Senator Collins Stresses Need to Arm Taiwan for Self-Defense, Replenish U.S. Military Stockpiles to Deter China
Washington, D.C. – At a full Appropriations Committee hearing to review the President’s fiscal year 2024 budget request related to U.S.-China policy, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Vice Chairman of the Committee, questioned Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on U.S. military stockpiles affected by obligations of legislation to provide Taiwan with means to defend itself. Secretary Austin confirmed press reports that the Administration will be exercising authority to provide additional arms to Taiwan and that the Department of Defense requires funding to backfill weapons and munitions provided to Taiwan from Department of Defense stockpiles.
As Senator Collins noted in last week’s Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing, the Administration’s fiscal year 2024 budget request does not include any funding for the replenishment of those stockpiles.
Senator Collins said in her opening statement:
We must ask ourselves if the Pentagon and Taiwan have the weapons, munitions, and manpower necessary to credibly deter China from using force to accomplish its objectives. As Secretary Austin knows, from our hearing last week, I believe that the Administration could do better in this regard…
During Q&A with Secretary Austin, Senator Collins said:
Last year, Congress authorized up to $1 billion to send existing [Department of Defense] weapons to Taiwan, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act. You've testified that the Administration intends to exercise this authority, and there were press reports, just last week, that the Administration was contemplating a $500 million package for Taiwan.
Will the Administration be requesting the necessary funding to backfill any U.S. weapons and munitions that are provided to Taiwan, as we have done with Ukraine, so that there is no net loss to the U.S. military capability as a result of the package under consideration by the Administration?
Thanks, Vice Chair. First of all, let me thank Congress for what you've done, to provide us with the authority to effect a presidential drawdown. That's critical in our efforts to provide Taiwan what it needs for self-defense going forward. And you are correct, we are working on that initiative, and we hope to have an action forthcoming here, in the near term. We will absolutely need to have the appropriations to replace those things which we provide. And so, Vice Chair, we won't hesitate to come forward and ask for what we need, to make sure that we maintain our stocks.
As the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins is pressing forward with Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) to hold subcommittee hearings on the President’s budget request. These hearings provide an important opportunity to assess our country’s needs for the coming year and will help guide Senators Collins and Murray’s efforts to write the annual government funding bills.
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