President Biden’s request for $715 billion for the Pentagon was struck down last month in favor of $25 billion additional dollars in defense spending, along with another $28 billion authorized for national security programs within the Department of Energy. Congressional members on both sides of the aisle lauded various items included in the final bill, despite contention surrounding some aspects of the original proposal.
In order to prevent further delay for passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, the final text excludes the original bill’s language for the addition of women to the Selective Service that could allow for their future conscription. Politico reported in Thanksgiving that the bill remained under dispute as Republican senators pushed for various amendments, ranging from a ban on vaccine mandates for federal contractors to sanctions imposed on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Republican lawmakers also advise that the original funding amount was inadequate to address the threats posed by Russia and China.
The 61st National Defense Authorization Act passed into law on December 27, allows for a 2.7% increase in pay for service members in 2022. Also included is $4 billion for the European Defense Initiative and $300 million for support of Ukraine’s military. Military justice, particularly in regards to the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault and other crimes, will undergo a massive overhaul under the new legislation. Notably, the NDAA also provides for an independent commission to “study U.S. involvement in Afghanistan from 2001-2021 and requires recommendations and lessons learned.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman said of the legislation’s passing, “It addresses a broad range of pressing issues, from strategic competition with China and Russia, to disruptive technologies like hypersonics, AI, and quantum computing, to modernizing our ships, aircraft, and vehicles.” Republican Senator Jim Inhofe likewise praised the bill, stating, “This bill provides our military with the resources and authorities they need to defend our country — which is more important now than it’s ever been before, at least in my lifetime.”
The most recent annual defense spending bill most definitely provides needed resources to counter the growing threats posed by China and Russia. While the newly passed bill authorizes funding for defense, it does not specifically allocate funds. Republicans and Democrats will next need to work together on an improved spending plan for 2022.