House China Select Committee Chair Mike Gallagher and six panel Republicans are pushing congressional leaders to approve $12 billion for the Indo-Pacific beyond the $2 billion President Joe Biden asked for in his $106 billion emergency aid request.
In a Sunday letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, Gallagher (R-Wis.) and his colleagues panned Biden’s request as “wholly inadequate.”
An ‘afterthought’? The hawkish call is coming just days after President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping met on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit, partially in an effort to calm fears of a military confrontation in the region. It’s also coming amid headlines out of Congress on aid debates for Israel, Ukraine and the border, while the Taiwan portion has received less attention. Gallagher pressed the leaders on making sure the region didn’t hit the backburner.
“The Indo-Pacific, our priority theater, must not be an afterthought,” the letter reads. “In order to safeguard peace in Asia and deter conflict on a scale we have not seen in generations, we must act before it is too late. For while deterrence may be hard, war is hell. We must enhance the Indo-Pacific supplemental request and treat the [Beijing] threat with the gravity it deserves.”
The letter noted that in recent months, Beijing “orchestrated” a number of near-collisions with U.S. ships and aircraft, and it harassed Philippine resupply ships in the South China Sea. The country is also strengthening ties with Moscow and building up militarily “at warp speed.”
Make more munitions: The lawmakers argued that another $10 billion is needed to boost the U.S. military presence in the region — but mostly to crank up production and build factories for Indo-Pacific Command munitions.
The signatories also called for another $2 billion to replace weapons sent to Taiwan this year from U.S. military stockpiles. Additionally, they asked for Congress to authorize Biden to send another $650 million’s worth.
“Under [presidential drawdown authority], existing U.S. stocks of air defense systems, command-and-control equipment, gear for Taiwan’s reserve forces, land- and sea-based mines, and multiple launch rocket system vehicles could bolster Taiwan’s forces tomorrow,” he wrote.
Golf clap: The lawmakers support the $2 billion already in the request, for Pacific allies to buy American-made weaponry, which they said will fast-track the delivery of “harpoon coastal defense cruise missile systems, mine-laying systems, air defense weapons, anti-armor systems, drone systems, and multiple launch rocket systems” to Taiwan and elsewhere.
The request’s $3.4 billion for submarine industrial base investments to help implement the three-nation AUKUS pact with Australia and the U.K., also had their approval.
Who signed: Reps. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Darrin LaHood (R-Ill.), Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) and Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) also signed the letter.