Senate panel OKs $6 billion military fund to confront China

Senate panel OKs $6 billion military fund to confront China

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WASHINGTON ― Plans for a Senate-crafted version of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a new military fund to boost deterrence against China in the Pacific, is one step closer to becoming law.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved nearly $6 billion for the fund in its version of the annual defense policy bill, the panel announced Thursday. It authorizes $1.4 billion in fiscal 2021, which would be $188.6 million above the administration’s budget request, and $5.5 billion for fiscal 2022. The bill also directs the defense secretary to create a spending plan for all of the funds.

“The best way to protect U.S. security and prosperity in Asia is to maintain a credible balance of military power, but, after years of underfunding, America’s ability to do so is at risk,” the committee’s summary stated. “The FY21 [National Defense Authorization Act] establishes the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) to send a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is deeply committed to defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific.

“PDI will enhance budgetary transparency and oversight, focus resources on key military capability gaps, reassure U.S. allies and partners, and bolster the credibility of American deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.”

Though not all details of the fund were immediately made public, SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., previously said they would sponsor a measure to enable U.S. military operations in the region, beyond supporting new weapons platforms.