A bipartisan group of lawmakers on foreign relations panels are urging Senate and House leadership to pass additional military spending for Taiwan and Ukraine in the next congressional budget package.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and ranking member James Risch (R-Idaho), asked for $500 million to support Ukrainian troops and another $250 million to support allies of Ukraine on top of what was included in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The senators were joined by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and ranking member Michael McCaul (R-Texas) in Thursday’s letter to congressional leadership.
They said growing tensions in Taiwan, which the U.S. fears could see an invasion from China, call for $500 million in emergency appropriations and another $1 billion in presidential drawdown spending, which draws from the Defense Department’s stocks, for the democratic island nation.
“The threat Taiwan faces is both urgent and unprecedentedly large,” the letter reads. “As the war in Ukraine has demonstrated, it is imperative that the United States provide partners with strategic, long-term security assistance well in advance of conflict in order to effectively deter, and, when necessary, to respond to acts of aggression.”
The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
The House passed a short-term spending bill on Wednesday to keep the government open until Dec. 23, buying time as lawmakers seek to pass a wider omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2023.
Last week, the House also passed the $847 billion NDAA, which authorizes programs to spend $10 billion in Taiwan military aid through 2027 and another $800 million in security assistance for Ukraine.
But only a congressional appropriations bill can formalize the spending and decide how the money is authorized.
That could be via a shorter-term spending authorization, such as a presidential drawdown, or a longer-term provision through the foreign military financing program, which provides grants and loans to allies and was included in the NDAA for Taiwan.
In Thursday’s letter, leaders of the House and Senate foreign affairs committees pushed for authorization of the full security spending included the NDAA.
They also asked for authorization of the foreign military financing program, saying the program is “chronically underfunded” in the Indo-Pacific and Eastern Europe.