It is unlikely that the proposed US Taiwan policy act would clear the US Congress this term, a senior Taiwanese official with knowledge of the issue said on Wednesday.
The bill was approved by a US Senate committee last week.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Taiwanese authorities “had known the proposed bill would not clear the current Congress before it was introduced to the Senate” in June.
The bill, which contains a pledge to provide Taiwan with up to US$6.5 billion in arms purchases, on Thursday last week passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a 17-5 vote and was sent to the US Senate for consideration.
However, some of the bill’s original proposals — including renaming Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the US, requiring Senate approval for the appointment of envoys to Taipei and designating Taiwan as a major non-NATO ally — were either removed or made nonbinding.
The official said it would be “highly difficult” for the bill to clear the Senate and the US House of Representatives before the congressional term ends on Jan. 3 next year.
The bill would also still need to be signed into law by US President Joe Biden.
Nevertheless, one of the bill’s sponsors, US Senator Robert Menendez, who also chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had hoped to “demonstrate his support for Taiwan” by sponsoring the bill, the official said.
Taipei and Menendez started discussing the bill in April, when the senator and the bill’s other sponsor, US Senator Lindsey Graham, who is a ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, visited Taiwan.
Commenting on the bill at an event in Washington last week, US Representative Brad Sherman also said it was unlikely that the bill would clear the current Congress.
However, some of the bill’s provisions could be included in the proposed US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal 2023, which authorizes funding levels and provides key policy guidance for the US military, Sherman said.
The Taiwanese official held similar views, saying that Taipei hopes that provisions of the Taiwan policy act pertaining to national security would be included in the NDAA.
The source declined to elaborate, saying only that “we are still in the process of negotiating with their Congress.”
The US Congress has passed the NDAA every year for the past 60 years, the official said.
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