Some members of Congress are at odds over how to provide $10 billion in military aid for Taiwan that is included in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The funds are set to be disbursed over five years through the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program.
According to Defense News, top congressional appropriators want to provide the $10 billion through loans that need to be paid back rather than giving Taipei the money outright through grants. The idea of loaning the money would be to ease pressure on the State Department’s budget.
Members of Congress on the foreign relations committee prefer sending grants to Taiwan, and that is the form of aid Taipei is hoping to receive. “We urgently need the help and hope that assistance will be allocated as grants. We will maintain close communication and coordination with Congress and the executive branch to ensure that Taiwan’s defense needs are immediately met,” a spokesman for Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington told Defense News.
Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), James Risch (R-ID), and Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Mike McCaul (R-TX) favor sending the money in grants and took the issue to congressional leadership in the House and Senate in a letter that was sent on Thursday.
Whichever way the aid is given to Taiwan, it will be viewed as a major provocation by China as such assistance is unprecedented. Since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979, it has sold weapons to the island but never financed the purchases.
The NDAA also includes $1 billion in annual presidential drawdown authority, which will allow the US to send Taiwan weapons directly from Pentagon stockpiles. The Foreign Military Financing aid will be given to Taipei and used to purchase US-made arms.
The NDAA also contains provisions to boost informal diplomatic relations between the US and Taiwan, another type of cooperation that will anger Beijing. One amendment would send US government employees to Taiwan for two-year fellowship programs starting in the fall of 2023. US officials have participated in similar programs, but only for a few months at a time.