Dhaka,   Monday 22 April 2024

The South Asian Times | সাউথ এশিয়ান টাইমস
Biden signs record $886b defense bill into law

Biden signs record $886b defense bill into law

USA President Biden signed an $886 billion defense bill into law on Friday that extends Ukraine aid and joint programs with the Israeli military. The record $886 billion bill is up 3% from last year. Congress has passed the annual bill on a bipartisan basis for the past 61 years. On Wednesday, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in a bipartisan 87-13 vote. The Senate bill includes $844.3 billion for the Department of Defense and $32.4 billion for the Department of Energy`s national security initiatives. It also authorizes a full budget request of $300 million for 2024. "At a time of huge trouble for global security, doing the defense authorization bill is more important than ever," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor. "Passing the NDAA enables us to hold the line against Russia, stand firm against the Chinese Communist Party, and ensure America`s defense remains state of the art at all times," he added. More than two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a defense policy bill on Thursday that includes a record $886 billion in annual military spending and authorizes policies such as aid for Ukraine and pushback against China in the Indo-Pacific. The House backed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, by 310 to 118, with strong support from Republicans and Democrats. It was more than the two-thirds majority required to pass the measure and send it to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law. Separate from the appropriations bills that set government spending levels, the NDAA authorizes everything from pay raises for troops — this year’s will be 5.2% — to purchases of ships, ammunition, and aircraft. As it is one of the few major pieces of legislation that becomes law every year, members of Congress use it as a vehicle for a wide range of initiatives. It is also closely watched by major defense companies, such as Lockheed Martin, RTX Corp, and other firms that receive Department of Defense contracts. This year`s bill, among other things, allows the Defense Department to continue the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative through 2027. The Defense Department can also replace certain weapons and munitions transferred to Ukraine through fiscal year 2025, and procure additional munitions. The bill says the U.S. can research and test "anti-tunnel capabilities" with Israel through 2026 as well and authorizes funding for and coproduction with Israel for David`s Sling weapon system, designed to intercept enemy rockets and missiles. Troops will receive a 5.2% pay raise. Also included in this year`s NDAA is the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act, which Transparency International U.S. says is "arguably the most sweeping and consequential foreign bribery law in nearly half a century." The legislation bars foreign officials from requesting or taking a bribe from an American, American company or anyone inside the country, Transparency International U.S. said. The legislation authorizes funding and sets policy for the Pentagon without including conservative provisions on abortion; diversity, equity, and inclusion programs; or transgender health care. Members of the House Freedom Caucus criticized Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) for allowing the NDAA to pass without certain conservative provisions, calling it "an utter disaster for House Republicans and a massive unforced error from leadership."

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