Senate Approves $886 Billion Defense Spending Bill Featuring Salary Boosts for Troops and Aid Package for Ukraine


Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed a defense policy bill that authorizes a record $886 billion in yearly military spending. The bill had strong support from both Democrats and Republicans, avoiding partisan disagreements over social issues that had made the bill less likely to pass.

The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, is different from the appropriations bills that decide how much the government can spend. It allows purchases of ships, ammunition, and aircraft, as well as policies like steps to help Ukraine fight China in the Indo-Pacific. This year’s pay raise for troops will be 5.2%.

The bill this year is almost 3,100 pages long and gives a record $886 billion in aid, which is 3% more than last year.

Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “The NDAA will make sure that America can hold the line against Russia and stand firm against the Chinese Communist Party. It will also make sure that America’s military stays cutting edge all around the world at all times.”

But the final version of the NDAA left out parts that dealt with controversial social problems like transgender service members’ rights and access to abortion. These parts were in the version that passed the House, even though Democrats were against them, and they threatened to stop the legislation.

The Senate, which has 100 members, voted 87 to 13 in favor of the NDAA. It might pass in the House by the end of the week. It will then go to the White House, where President Joe Biden will sign it into law.

The NDAA for fiscal year 2024 also includes a four-month extension of a controversial domestic surveillance power. This gives lawmakers more time to change the program or keep it. The program is called Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

On Wednesday, the Senate tried to get rid of the FISA extension from the NDAA but failed. They then voted to pass the bill.

The NDAA was first passed by the House, which is mostly made up of Republicans, earlier this year. It was then passed by the Senate, which is mostly made up of Democrats, with Biden’s support. Last week, negotiators from both parties and both chambers showed off their joint version.

The bill continues the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a program that helps Ukraine, until the end of 2026. It gives $300 million to the program in the fiscal year that ends on September 30, 2024, and in the next one as well.

To be fair, that amount is very small compared to the $61 billion that Biden has asked Congress to approve to help Ukraine fight a Russian attack that began in February 2022.

That emergency spending request is stuck in Congress because Republicans won’t give money to help Ukraine until Democrats agree to make immigration law a lot stricter.

Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met with lawmakers at the Capitol to make the case for the money that Biden has asked for. However, when he was done, Republicans had not promised to support him.

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