Congress introduces new, revised $857.9 billion national defense bill, $45 billion over Biden’s proposal

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers in the House and Senate late Tuesday unveiled their revised annual national defense policy and spending bill, which is $45 billion more than the Biden administration’s original March requirement.

Congress is expected to vote Thursday on the $857.9 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which would increase spending on key weapons systems to keep up with China’s rapidly advancing military — and dwindling ones would replenish Pentagon inventories after months of sending military aid to Ukraine.

The law also introduces important policy changes, increasing troop pay by 4.6% and funding a force of 452,000 troops, 354,000 sailors, 325,344 airmen, 177,000 marines and 8,600 Space Force Guards.

It would also nullify Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s August 2021 mandate that all military personnel be vaccinated against COVID-19 or involuntarily discharged. The White House opposed the latter, but 13 GOP senators vowed not to pass the annual spending bill unless the firing order was lifted.

“This year’s agreement… focuses on key national security priorities for the United States, including strategic competition with China and Russia; disruptive technologies such as hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, 5G and quantum computing; modernization of our ships, aircraft and vehicles; and improving the lives of our service members and their families,” said members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in the summary of the bill.

Soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces
The US has sent nearly $20 billion in military aid to Ukraine since President Joe Biden took office last year.
AFP via Getty Images
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s mandate that all service members be vaccinated against COVID-19 or involuntarily fired could go away.
Getty Images / Alex Wong

The legislation would allocate $1 billion to stockpile national defense stockpiles with “strategic and critical materials needed to meet defense, industrial and essential civilian needs,” according to the abstract. It would also direct the camp’s manager to notify Congress of “strategic and critical material shortages.”

The US has given Ukraine nearly $20 billion in military aid since President Joe Biden took office last year — most of it after Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. The new law would authorize the US to provide Ukraine with an additional $800 million in aid over fiscal year 2023 — about $500 million more than the Pentagon has requested.

“[The bill] expresses Congress’s sentiment that the United States must continue to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s unjust and unprovoked onslaught,” the committees wrote.

The bill also calls for more than $2.7 billion to increase the defense industry’s capacity to manufacture munitions and weapon systems. The industry is struggling to meet delivery deadlines as the invasion of Russia progresses, and the bill would also mandate a study of the industry’s production needs “to meet steady-state and propellant and explosives needs.”

US military
Congress is expected to vote on the $857.9 billion National Defense Authorization Act.
Only Photo via Getty Images/Artur Widak/

The bill also directs money to deter a possible war with communist China. For example, it would direct the Pentagon to study future military needs in Hawaii, such as: B. Training areas, land forces and other facilities “in light of changes in attitude in the Indo-Pacific region”.

It would also give $11.5 billion to the Pentagon’s Pacific Deterrence Initiative, with funds earmarked for investments to counter the Chinese threat.

The bill also authorizes $32.6 billion for Navy shipbuilding — $4.7 billion more than last year. The Navy asked in March to build just nine more ships and cut 24, but the bill calls for 11 new ships and cuts the hit list by half.

The 2018 NDAA ordered the Navy to build a fleet of 355 ships “as soon as possible,” but the service has made little progress toward that goal. The navy had a combined strength of about 293 ships since its last update last week, while China has about 350 ships and plans to build dozens more.

marines
The bill also calls for more than $2.7 billion to increase the defense industry’s capacity to manufacture munitions and weapon systems.
MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Congress and the Navy have been at odds over the total number of ships for years, with the Naval Service regularly campaigning to dismantle platforms like littoral combat ships to afford advanced technology. The idea is largely rejected in Congress, which argues that the LCS – first developed in 2008 – is too young to retire.

Not all funding would go to the Pentagon. The bill also directs $30.3 billion to the Department of Energy, which oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons program. In addition to funding the roughly 5,428 nuclear warheads in the current US stockpile, it would support research and development of new systems to modernize the aging stockpile.

That’s especially important as China is in the process of increasing its nuclear stockpile from the current 350 to at least 1,000 warheads by 2030, according to the Pentagon’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review released in October.

“At a time of rising nuclear risks, a partial remediation strategy no longer serves our interests,” the document said. “We need to develop and deploy a balanced, flexible stock that is able [keeping up with] Assess threats, respond to uncertainty and maintain effectiveness.”

https://nypost.com/2022/12/07/congress-unveils-new-revised-857-9b-national-defense-bill-45b-over-biden-request/ Congress introduces new, revised $857.9 billion national defense bill, $45 billion over Biden’s proposal

JACLYN DIAZ

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