Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA) on Wednesday introduced a bill in the House that would allow the US to lend or lease weapons to Taiwan as Congress is looking for ways to ship more arms to the island.
The legislation is modeled off the World War II-era Lend-Lease Act that allowed the US to arm the Soviet Union, Britain, and other allies prior to its entry into the war. A similar law for Ukraine was signed into law by President Biden last year in the wake of Russia’s invasion.
Versions of the bill for Taiwan were introduced in both the House and the Senate last year but were never put to the floor for a vote. “I’m reintroducing the Taiwan Democracy-Defense Lend-Lease Act to arm Taiwan with the tools it needs to defend itself and deter a #CCP [Chinese Communist Party] invasion,” Steel wrote on Twitter.
Steel claimed in comments to The Washington Times that China is “the greatest threat to global stability and America’s national security.” So far, her bill has received 12 bipartisan cosponsors; four Democrats and eight Republicans.
Congress has been scrambling for ways to get more weapons in Taiwan’s hands in the name of deterring a Chinese attack. But the increasing US military support for Taiwan has led to more Chinese military pressure on the island.
For example, the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act includes $2 billion in military aid for Taiwan in the form of loans to finance weapons purchases. In response to President Biden signing the bill into law, China launched major military exercises around Taiwan.