By Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com
The Senate on Thursday night passed the massive $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in a vote of 83-11. The spending bill has already been approved by the House and now heads to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
The $858 billion bill is $45 billion more than Biden asked for and represents an 8% increase from the 2022 NDAA. It marks the second year in a row that Congress added tens of billions of dollars to the president’s original request, as massive military spending is popular on both sides of the aisle.
Out of the $858 billion, $817 billion will go to the Pentagon, and the remaining funds will go toward military spending for other departments, including $30 billion for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons program.
The NDAA will ramp up tensions with Russia and China as it includes amendments that will help the US send more arms to Ukraine and Taiwan. One measure will give the Pentagon wartime purchasing powers by allowing non-competitive, multi-year contracts for certain arms. The authority could be used to refill US stockpiles, arm Ukraine, and assist foreign governments that have provided support for Ukraine.
Ukraine will also receive $800 million in the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative from the NDAA, a program that allows the US government to purchase weapons for Kyiv. The vast majority of aid for Ukraine will still be authorized as emergency funds, and the White House is currently seeking an additional $37.7 billion, which is expected to be included in an omnibus spending bill Congress wants to pass before the end of the year.
When it comes to arming Taiwan, the spending bill will give Taiwan $3 billion in annual military aid and includes other provisions to increase informal diplomatic ties with Taipei. Other notable amendments include $11.5 billion in new investments for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a program to build up in the Asia Pacific to confront China, and the bill will roll back the Pentagon’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.