A US government funding bill for next year that was unveiled on Tuesday authorized US$2 billion in loans to Taiwan to buy weapons, but did not include grants for similar purposes that had been approved in a separate defense bill.
The Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, covering funding for the US government for fiscal 2023, allowed up to US$2 billion in direct loans to Taiwan under the Foreign Military Financing Program.
That was consistent with provisions in the Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed earlier this month by the US House of Representatives and the US Senate.
However, the appropriations bill left out a provision in the NDAA that called for the provision of grants to Taiwan of up to US$2 billion annually from 2023 to 2027 for military-related purposes amid military pressure from China.
The grants were part of another bill, called the Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act, that was folded into the NDAA.
US Senator James Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was disappointed with the outcome.
“I remain disappointed that the [US President Joe] Biden administration refuses to comply with congressional inquiries regarding Taiwan’s military needs and refuses to request money to implement the Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act,” Inhofe said in a statement. “This is simply another national security misstep by the administration.”
Defense News reported that the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, US senators Bob Menendez and James Risch respectively, were pushing for up to US$500 million in grants, while US Senator Lindsay Graham advocated loans.
“You’ve got all kinds of needs. You’ve got a famine all over the world. You’ve got food shortages. I want to be helpful to Taiwan, but probably the better approach is loans,” Graham was quoted as saying by Defense News.
Despite the passage of the NDAA, grants and loans must still be proposed through appropriation bills and approved by the US Congress before Taiwan can receive them.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act provides US$1.7 trillion in discretionary resources for the US government in fiscal 2023, a news release issued by the Senate Appropriations Committee said.
In total, the regular 12 appropriations bills include US$800 billion in non-defense funding, a 9.3 percent increase over the funding for fiscal 2022.
This is the highest level of non-defense funding ever.
The bill also provides US$858 billion in defense funding, the news release said.
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