The House and Senate are set up for a fight over how much military aid to include for Taiwan in 2024 spending bills as each chamber’s appropriators granted a different amount, Defense News reported Thursday.
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday passed its 2024 State Department and foreign aid spending bill that includes $113 million in Foreign Military Financing grants for Taiwan. The House Appropriations Committee’s version of the bill includes $500 million in FMF grants for Taiwan.
FMF is a State Department program that gives foreign governments money to buy US-made arms. The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act included $2 billion in FMF for Taiwan, but congressional appropriators only approved the funds as loans that need to be paid back, as opposed to grants, over concerns that the State Department budget would need to be slashed in other areas.
While the Republican-led House is looking to give Taiwan more military aid than the Senate, its State and foreign aid spending bill is $52.5 billion, lower than the Senate’s version, which is $61.8 billion. The two chambers will need to negotiate the final version, and it’s unclear how much military aid Taiwan will end up getting.
The US is also looking to give Taiwan military aid through the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which authorizes weapons shipments direct from Pentagon stockpiles, the primary way the US has been arming Ukraine. The 2023 NDAA included $1 billion in PDA funds for Taiwan. The Pentagon said in May that it was preparing a $500 million PDA arms package for Taiwan but has yet to send the arms.
From China’s perspective, US military aid for Taiwan is extremely provocative. The US has sold weapons to Taiwan since severing diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 but has not financed the purchases or provided arms free of charge. When President Biden signed the 2023 NDAA into law that included military aid for Taiwan, China launched major military exercises around Taiwan in response.