Mr. SCOTT of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 6646) to require the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, to provide detailed briefings to Congress on any recent discussions conducted between United States Government and the Government of Taiwan and any potential transfer of defense articles or defense services to the Government of Taiwan, as amended.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. FINDINGS.
Congress finds the following:
(1) Relations between the United States and Taiwan are governed by the Taiwan Relations Act (22 U.S.C. 3301 et seq.; Public Law 96-8), three joint communiques, and the Six Assurances.
(2) The Taiwan Relations Act has governed United States arms sales to Taiwan since 1979, when the United States extended diplomatic recognition to the People's Republic of China.
(3) The Taiwan Relations Act specifies that it is United States policy, among other things, to consider any nonpeaceful means to determine Taiwan's future ``a threat'' to the peace and security of the Western Pacific and of ``grave concern'' to the United States, ``to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character'', and ``to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion'' jeopardizing the security or social or economic system of Taiwan's
(4) Section 3(a) of the Taiwan Relations Act states that ``the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability''.
(5) Section 3(b) of the Taiwan Relations Act stipulates that both the President and the Congress shall determine the nature and quantity of such defense articles and services ``based solely'' upon their judgment of the needs of Taiwan.
(6) Taiwan has recently reversed a downward trend in defense spending with a $2.2 billion increase in 2007 to $9.8 billion and the Defense Ministry has requested and the Executive Yuan approved a 2008 budget of $10.6 billion, an increase of 15 percent.
(7) According to the Congressional Research Service, the executive branch has yet to send any arms transfer notifications to Congress during calendar year 2008, including notifications on at least seven pending arms sales programs with a total value of about $11 billion that encompass programs on a submarine design, Patriot PAC-3 missile defense systems, and Apache and Blackhawk helicopters.
(8) Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou stated on July 12, 2008, that the island needs to secure defensive weapons from the United States, despite a warming of relations with mainland China.
(9) On July 16, 2008, Admiral Timothy Keating, Commander of the Hawaii-based United States Pacific Command, acknowledged that the executive branch had imposed a ``freeze'' on arms sales to Taiwan, a decision that is in contradiction to longstanding United States law and policy.
SEC. 2. MANDATORY CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFINGS.
(a) Briefings.--Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, and not later than 120 days thereafter, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, shall provide detailed briefings to Congress on--
(1) any discussions conducted between any executive branch agency and the Government of Taiwan during the covered period; and
(2) any potential transfer of defense articles or defense services to the Government of Taiwan.
(b) Definitions.--In this section:
(1) COVERED PERIOD.--The term ``covered period'' means--
(A) with respect to the initial briefings required under subsection (a), the period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act and ending on the date of the initial briefings; and
(B) with respect to the subsequent briefings required under subsection (a), the period beginning on the day after the date of the initial briefings required under subsection (a) and ending on the date of the subsequent briefings.
(2) EXECUTIVE BRANCH AGENCY.--The term ``executive branch agency'' has the meaning given the term ``agency'' in section 551(1) of title 5, United States Code.
(3) DEFENSE ARTICLE.--The term ``defense article'' has the meaning given the term in section 47 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2794 note).
(4) DEFENSE SERVICE.--The term ``defense service'' has the meaning given the term in section 47 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2794 note).
Mr. SCOTT of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution, and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
I would like to first thank my distinguished colleague, the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for introducing this very, very important legislation.
When it comes to arms sales to Taiwan, U.S. policy is clear. We must ensure that the thriving democracy of Taiwan has the military capability necessary to defend itself from outside threats.
The United States is obligated to provide defensive military equipment to Taiwan, not just because it is right to aid our democratic friends, but also because it is the law of the land under the Taiwan Relations Act.
This act, which has been at the core of our policy towards Taiwan for almost three decades, clearly states that the United States should base its decision whether to supply defensive military equipment to Taiwan solely on the security needs of the Taiwanese military.
The Taiwan Relations Act is also clear that it is the President and Congress that determine what military equipment shall be sold to Taiwan. Apparently, the White House does not understand the Taiwan Relations Act.
As we speak, the administration is refusing to move forward with $11 billion worth of arms to Taiwan, arms which the administration has already [Page: H8629]
agreed to sell. The Taiwanese government wants the weapons, and the administration has recommended that the sales be approved. The only thing remaining is for the administration to notify Congress, and yet, no notification has come.
To address this peculiar situation, over the past months the Foreign Affairs Committee has repeatedly requested briefings from the administration. Most often, the answer is simply no response. When pressed, State Department and other administration officials throw up their hands and tell us to ask the White House because it is the White House that is making the decision to delay notification of the sales and not to talk to Congress.
H.R. 6646 requires the administration to brief the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on all discussions that the administration has had with the Taiwanese Government regarding the arms sales and on any potential transfer of defense equipment to Taiwan.
I would like to point out the extraordinary measure we are taking by introducing this legislation. Section 15(b) of the State Department Basic Authorities Act provides that the Department ``shall keep the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives fully and currently informed with respect to all activities and responsibilities within the jurisdiction.'' With respect to these arms sales to Taiwan, this law has been ignored.
Because of the importance of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship and the importance of the Taiwan Relations Act, which has helped keep peace in East Asia for almost 30 years, it is time for Congress to take a more direct step in compelling the administration to explain its decision-making on arms sales to Taiwan.
The stakes are too high to let the White House continue its policies of secrecy and disregard for congressional oversight. It is an injustice to our Taiwanese friends. It is a danger to our national security, and it is against the law.
I strongly support this legislation and encourage my colleagues to do the same.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I want to just begin by thanking Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, our distinguished ranking member on Foreign Affairs, for bringing this bill up before us. And, of course, this bill requires the State Department to provide detailed briefings to Congress on defense sales to the Government of Taiwan.
Mr. Speaker, I think it's clear to us Taiwan and the U.S. have a long and valued partnership. Taiwan is one of the few, very vibrant democracies in the region, in Asia, and we continue to build on our already strong economic partnership that we have with that country. Taiwan is an important ally, and we have long considered its security a priority. We have commitments there with regard to that security.
That is why this administration's decision to sit on an arms package worth approximately $11 billion is of concern. Today, the People's Republic of China continues to expand its military capabilities, amassing hundreds of short-range missiles pointed across the strait. Now they're pointed at Taiwan.
Now some of us support arms sales to Taiwan. Others may not. But we can all agree, I think, that Congress should be involved in this process. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, legislation that governs U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, stipulates that both the President and Congress, this body, shall determine the nature and quantity of such defense articles.
Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, Congress has been left out. This bill, however, helps right that wrong, and I commend its author, Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for bringing this bill before us today, and I urge its passage.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise in strong support of H.R. 6646, a bill to require the executive branch to provide quarterly briefings to Congress on possible defense transfers from the United States to Taiwan.
At the outset, I'd like to thank Chairman Howard Berman and the leadership on both sides for helping to expedite consideration of this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, this is a modest bill. It requires the executive branch again to regularly brief Congress on our policy toward Taiwan and, in particular, the defense needs of Taiwan and the security balance across the strait.
Why is this bill even necessary? Well, it's necessary because a long-rumored freeze on United States foreign military sales to Taiwan was confirmed on July 16 by Admiral Timothy Keating, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific.
According to press accounts of his remarks at the Heritage Foundation, Admiral Keating observed that there have been ``no significant arms sales from the U.S. to Taiwan in relatively recent times,'' and that the absence of arms sales under the Foreign Military Sales process reflected ``administration policy.''
Admiral Keating went on to suggest that he had, in fact, discussed the issue of Taiwan arms sales with leaders in Beijing, noting that, ``The Chinese have made clear to me their concerns over any arms sales to Taiwan.''
I found Admiral Keating's remarks at the Heritage Foundation affirming that there was, in fact, a ``freeze'' on arms sales to Taiwan to be a cause for great concern. Even more disturbing was the Admiral's indication that the Chinese leadership had had some input into the decision of the United States about Taiwan's defensive needs and our commitment to Taiwan under our laws.
The Taiwan Relations Act gives Congress a clear role in the provision of defensive weapons to Taiwan. President Reagan's ``Six Assurances'' to Taiwan was a solemn commitment made over a quarter century ago making it clear that there should be no pre-consultation with Beijing on this matter. However, it seems that, while Congress has been left in the dark on this issue--which is of vital concern to our national security interests--the Chinese leadership has been kept fully abreast of our Nation's
Last year, the House passed a resolution that I put forward which declared, ``It shall continue to be the policy of the United States, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, to make available to Taiwan such defense articles and services as may be necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.'' That remains my firm position.
The legitimate defense needs of our friends in Taiwan must be met no matter who attended the Beijing Olympics nor how helpful the State Department says that China has been in the talks with North Korea. That is the clear intention of the Taiwan Relations Act. That is the clear commitment that President Reagan gave to Taiwan. On this matter, Mr. Speaker, there can be no backsliding or compromise.
I hope and I trust that this bill can be passed swiftly prior to congressional adjournment and thereby alleviate some of the confusion over this so-called arms ``freeze.''
For almost 30 years, the judicious sale of defensive weapons has been an essential element in the United States support for a secure, stable and democratic Taiwan as well as for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Now is not the time to backtrack from that historic and bipartisan policy.
Mr. Speaker, this Congress should do everything in its power to ensure that Taiwan will continue as a beacon of democracy shining its light directly across the strait in the very heart of Tiananmen Square.
I urge support of this bill.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. BERKLEY. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) for her strong leadership on this issue.
I will not speak long, Mr. Speaker, because this issue could not be more simple to understand. [Page: H8630]
I rise today as a proud cosponsor of this bill and as co-chairman of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus.
Mr. Speaker, this administration talks about spreading democracy and expanding liberty. In the case of Taiwan, we don't need to topple a dictator in order to show our support for one of the world's most embattled democracies, we simply need to help them protect themselves. And yet we cannot get this administration to tell us if they in fact will deliver the arms that they have already promised to Taiwan. Will they allow Taiwan to acquire the weapons they need, or will this administration continue
to curry favor with the Chinese and refuse to help our democratic ally in its time of need?
We have written letters, Members of this body have made statements, and now we're passing a law just to get simple answers from the President of the United States. We cannot and should not wait any longer. Taiwan and its democratic citizens ought not have to wait any longer. Let us deliver the arms that we have promised to the Taiwan people.
I urge support for this bill.