NewsHouse approves massive $883.7B defense bill including $300M arms for Ukraine and largest soldier pay raise in 20 years. Awaiting Biden's sign-off

House approves massive $883.7B defense bill including $300M arms for Ukraine and largest soldier pay raise in 20 years. Awaiting Biden's sign-off

The U.S. Congress has adopted the defense spending plan. It includes 300 million for Ukraine.
The U.S. Congress has adopted the defense spending plan. It includes 300 million for Ukraine.
Images source: © EPA, PAP | MICHAEL REYNOLDS

5:06 AM EST, December 15, 2023

The House approved the plan with 310 votes out of a total of 428, maintaining the annual tradition. The Senate had previously approved the project, clearing the path for the President's signature.

The bill apportions a total of 883.7 billion dollars for defense purposes, with 841.4 billion set aside for the Pentagon, an increase of 28 billion from last year's fund.

The spending plan includes the largest pay raise for soldiers in over two decades (5.2%), the highest ever funding for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a defense investment program in the Indo-Pacific region, at 14.7 billion. Further, the NDAA makes provisions for the implementation of the AUKUS partnership agreement to build Australian nuclear submarines, and setting up a program to train and reinforce Taiwan's forces.

Allocating 300 million dollars for arms to Ukraine offers a glimmer of hope for new aid packages

The Act administers 3.6 billion dollars for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), a defense investment plan for Europe, including Poland. Expenditures have also been increased for the production and purchase of crucial ammunition types, including the new land-to-land Precision Strike Mission missiles. Aid procurement procedures for Ukraine have been simplified, with the Act allocating 300 million dollars for arms. However, despite this, the Lend-Lease Act, which allows Ukraine to lease military equipment, albeit unused so far, has not been extended.

The Act also contains provisions including a ban on U.S. withdrawal from NATO without Senate or Congressional Act approval and a temporary extension of the controversial rights of the intelligence services to surveil foreigners without court approval. Despite the demands of some Republicans, the compromise version does not include clauses that prevent the department from paying for the travel of female soldiers to get an abortion in a state where it is legal.

The vote on the NDAA was cast just in time for the Congressmen's planned holiday break, which is set to last until January. Consequently, unless there is a change of plans or the Republican leadership of the House calls a new session, further aid for Ukraine won't be passed this year - a move the White House has been advocating for.

According to the leading Democratic negotiator in the Senate, Chris Murphy, discussions on immigration reforms to unlock the deadlock on the aid package are underway. He called on the House to remain in Washington on Thursday. An appeal that President Biden echoed separately.

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