U.S. Senate passes a record $858 billion defense bill
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted to approve a plan that would authorize yearly defense expenditure of a record $858 billion, which is $45 billion more than what President Joe Biden had suggested. The bill would also repeal the requirement that members of the military get the COVID vaccine.
An overwhelming majority of senators, 83 out of 11, were in favor of passing the National Defense Authorization Act, also known as the NDAA. This is an annual must-pass bill that determines policy for the Pentagon. The negative votes came from a combination of liberals and fiscal conservatives, both of whom are opposed to the ever-increasing budget for the military and both of whom want more stringent spending restraints.
Following the passage of the defense bill by the House of Representatives the previous week, the NDAA is now on its way to the White House, where Vice President Biden is predicted to sign it into law as quickly as possible. In addition to authorizing $858 billion in spending on the military, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2023 includes a pay raise of 4.6% for the armed forces, funding for the purchase of weapons, ships, and aircraft, and support for Taiwan in the face of aggression from China and for Ukraine in the face of an invasion by Russia.
As a result of the vote, the NDAA has been approved by Congress on an annual basis since 1961.
Senator James Inhofe, the senior Republican member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, was quoted as saying in a statement that “this is the most important defense bill we do every year.” The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for this year bears Inhofe’s name in honor of his departure from the Senate.
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Assistance Was Provided to Taiwan, Ukraine, and the Judges
Legislators utilize the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as a vehicle for a wide variety of projects because it is one of the few major measures that is guaranteed to pass every time.
The legislation that was passed this year, which was the result of months of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, includes the authorization for the State Department as well as legislation that would make it possible for justices on the United States Supreme Court and federal judges to prevent their personal information from being viewed online.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2023 has a provision that many Republicans wanted, but many Democrats opposed. This provision requires the secretary of defense to remove a mandate that requires members of the armed forces to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
An attempt to change the bill in order to restore servicemen who refused the vaccine and grant back pay was unsuccessful. The bill includes a number of provisions to strengthen Taiwan in the midst of tensions with China. These provisions include billions of dollars in security assistance for Taiwan as well as expedited procurement of weapons for Taiwan. Additionally, the bill provides Ukraine with at least $800 million in additional security assistance for the following year.
The Ministry of Defense of Taiwan has expressed its appreciation for the support and stated that the planned actions will assist in improving the island’s military preparation and “ensure the freedom, openness, peace, and stability of the Indo-Pacific area.”
Additionally, the bill authorizes additional funding for the development of hypersonic weapons, the closure of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii, and the purchase of weapons systems such as the F-35 fighter jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp. and ships manufactured by General Dynamics.
The National Defense Authorization Act is not the last word on expenditure. Authorization bills are what really get projects off the ground, but appropriations bills are what provide the federal government the legal power to spend money from the federal budget.
It is anticipated that Congress will vote to approve a bill to continue funding the government through the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2023, the following week.
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