Both houses of the US Congress have made progress on their respective drafts of an annual defense policy bill — the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — that includes provisions to strengthen defense-related engagement with Taiwan.
In the US Senate, the Armed Services Committee on Thursday said that it had passed a draft version of the NDAA for fiscal year 2023 in a bipartisan 23-3 vote and had sent it to the full Senate for consideration.
A summary released by the committee said that the draft bill would require engagement with Taiwanese officials to develop and implement a multi-year plan for the acquisition of appropriate defensive capabilities.
The bill would also mandate engagement with Taiwan on a series of combined training, exercises and planning activities, the committee said.
The US’ policy would be to maintain its armed forces “to deny a fait accompli against Taiwan,” to deter China from using military force to unilaterally change the “status quo” with Taiwan, the committee said in the summary.
The draft Senate bill calls for US$857.6 billion of defense spending, an increase of US$44 billion over the US$813.3 billion requested by US President Joe Biden.
That is an increase of US$87 billion from last year’s defense budget.
Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee on Monday released the full text of its draft version of the NDAA, which is still in the committee’s markup process and is to be reviewed today.
In its current form, the House’s draft bill largely hews to the final version of the NDAA that was signed into law last year, with the exception of an expanded “sense of Congress” section on US-Taiwan defense relations.
While last year’s version of the NDAA committed to supporting Taiwan’s acquisition of defense articles with an emphasis on asymmetric capabilities, this year’s draft specifies that this might include “anti-ship, coastal defense, anti-armor, air defense [and] undersea warfare” capabilities.
The section also contains a new phrase that says the US should be “committed to the defense of a free and open society in the face of aggressive efforts by [China] to curtail or influence the free exercise of rights or democratic franchise.”
The House draft would authorize a lower amount of US$802.4 billion of defense spending.
Typically, both houses of Congress pass their own versions of the NDAA and negotiate a reconciliation of the bill to be signed into law — a process that last year was not completed until December.
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