A U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would significantly enhance U.S. military support for Taiwan, including provisions for billions of dollars in additional security assistance, amid increased pressure from China toward the democratically governed island.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee backed the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 by 17-5. The strong bipartisan vote was a clear indication of support from both Republicans and President Joe Biden’s fellow Democrats for changes in U.S. policy toward Taiwan, such as treating Taiwan as a major non-NATO ally.
The act also includes extensive language on sanctions toward China in the event of hostilities across the strait separating it from the mainland.
“We need to be clear-eyed about what we are facing,” said Senator Bob Menendez, the committee’s Democratic chairman, while stressing that the United States does not seek war or any increase in tensions with Beijing.
The committee’s approval paved the way for a vote in the full Senate, but there has been no word on when that might take place. To become law, it must also pass the House of Representatives and be signed by President Joe Biden, whose administration has expressed concerns about portions of the legislation.
The White House said on Tuesday it was in talks with members of Congress on how to change the bill to ensure that it does not change long-standing U.S. policy toward Taiwan that it considers effective.
The Taiwan bill is likely to be folded into a larger piece of legislation expected to pass late this year, such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual bill setting policy for the Department of Defense.