Biden Signs the $768.2 Billion Defense Bill

The National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Joe Biden, authorizes $768.2 billion in military expenditure year 2022, including a 2.7 percent pay boost for service members.

The NDAA permits a 5% increase in military expenditure and is the result of months of intensive discussions between Democrats and Republicans over everything from military justice reform to COVID-19 vaccine requirements for soldiers.

In a statement released Monday, Biden said, “The Act offers crucial benefits and improves access to justice for service troops and their families, and includes critical authority to assist our country’s national defense.”

The $768.2 billion price tag is $25 billion higher than Biden’s previous request to Congress, which was rejected by members of both parties because to worries that it would jeopardize the US’s attempts to stay up with China and Russia militarily.

The revised law received bipartisan backing earlier this month, with both Democrats and Republicans hailing victories in the final package.

Democrats praised measures in the bill that alter the military justice system’s handling of sexual assault and other similar offenses, effectively shifting prosecuting power away from military leaders.

Republicans, however, boasted about their victory in rejecting a bill that would have added women to the draft, as well as the inclusion of a clause that prevents service members from receiving dishonorable discharges if they refuse the COVID-19 vaccination.

The package includes $7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and a declaration of congressional support for Taiwan’s defense, both of which are meant to offset China’s regional dominance.

It also contains $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, as well as $4 billion for the European Defense Initiative, as a show of support in the face of Russian aggression.

In his remarks, the president also listed a number of measures that his government rejects due to “constitutional problems or construction questions,” as he put it.

Provisions in those planks prohibit the use of monies to transfer or release detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, which the Biden administration is working to abolish. The provisions “unduly impair” the executive branch’s ability to decide when and where to prosecute detainees and where to send them when they’re released, according to Biden’s statement, and could constrain US negotiations with foreign countries over detainee transfers in a way that could jeopardize national security.

The bill also includes rules prohibiting the importation of items made in China using forced Uyghur labor, and it begins to set out plans for the new Global War on Terror Memorial, which would be the newest addition to the National Mall.

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