The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a bill to increase US security assistance to Taiwan, authorizing $6.5 billion over the next five years.
The bill passed by a 17-5 vote, with Democratic Sens. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky voting against the measure, according to a Democratic aide.
The bill now heads to the Senate. It remains unclear if he will receive a vote.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration approved the sale of more than $1.1 billion worth of arms to Taiwan, a move that could potentially fuel heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. The administration formally notified Congress of the proposed sales, which included up to 60 anti-ship missiles and up to 100 air-to-air missiles.
A State Department spokesman said at the time that the sales were consistent with United States policy toward Taiwan, noting the long history of the U.S. providing defensive weapons to the island.
The “prompt provision” of such weapons, they said, “is essential for Taiwan’s security, and we will continue to work with industry to support this goal.”
Tensions between China and the US have risen since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in early August. The visit was the first by a US speaker in 25 years, at a time when relations between Washington and Beijing were particularly strained.
Delegations from the US Congress have also visited the self-governing island in recent weeks.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez gave a nod to the visits when announcing the legislation Wednesday.
“After soliciting and incorporating input from Committee members to address broad views and concerns, holding numerous hearings and briefings on the issue, and allowing Committee members to travel to Taiwan, we passed comprehensive legislation to lay out a new and bipartisan way forward for US-Taiwan policy , which maintains cross-strait stability while reinforcing a status quo that is under threat from Beijing and will inevitably and invariably collapse without reinforcement,” the New Jersey Democrat said.