President Joe Biden signed the Fiscal Year 2023 $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Friday after Congress passed the legislation just before the year-end deadline. This is a 10 percent increase over last year.
The NDAA will increase defense spending by $45 billion over what the president had proposed as there was a general bipartisan agreement that the president’s proposal did not offer enough money to counter Russia, China, and inflation.
The NDAA allocates $817 billion to the Department of Defense and $30 billion to the Department of Energy. The Senate, with bipartisan support, passed the bill 83-11 last week.
“The Act provides vital benefits and enhances access to justice for military personnel and their families, and includes critical authorities to support our country’s national defense, foreign affairs, and homeland security,” the president said in a statement on Friday.
Service members and civilians within the DoD will get a 4.6 percent pay raise. The FY2023 NDAA authorizes $12.6 billion to offset the inflation impact on purchases, $3.8 billion for the impact on military construction projects, and $2.5 billion for the impact on fuel purchases, even though the inflation rate is declining.
The Navy is getting more ships
The NDAA allocated $32.6 billion for the U.S. Navy to build three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; two Virginia-class submarines; two expeditionary fast transport ships; one Constellation-class frigate; one San Antonio-class amphibious ship; one John Lewis-class oiler and one Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship.
Also included in the NDAA are funds for eight F-18E/F aircraft, 16 F-35C aircraft, 15 F-35B jets, and 12 CH-53K helicopters. The legislation also authorizes the purchase of two more V-22 Osprey aircraft, seven E-2D Hawkeye aircraft, and five KC-130J tanker aircraft.
Supporting US special operations and allies
Support for Ukraine and Taiwan is included in the act as well. The Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative has been modified to increase spending to $800 million, an increase of $300 million over the proposed spending. Congress has also allocated spending for $11.5 billion of investments to support the Pacific Deterrence Initiative.
The NDAA authorizes DoD to establish a Center for Security Studies in Irregular Warfare to serve as the hub for developing an irregular warfare center. The center will be open to allies and partners.
The budget of Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was fully funded. The act also allocated $250 million for unfunded requirements identified by the commander of SOCOM.
The administration expressed concern with parts of the act
The new NDAA will also rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for uniformed service members. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the administration views the end of the vaccine mandate as “a mistake.” This could open the door for the secretary of defense to reinstate the mandate sometime after the bill becomes law.
President Biden noted that there were some items in the bill that he had concerns with, specifically, the provision that bans the Defense Department from using funds that would be used to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to certain foreign countries and the United States.
He also said that a portion of the NDAA, which says documents such as presidential communications be shared, is unconstitutional. The president is concerned that the provisions could reveal critical intelligence methods, sources, or military operational plans.
“I will commit to complying with its disclosure requirements only in such cases where a committee has a need for such Presidential communications that outweighs the potential harm to the confidentiality interests underlying the Presidential communications privilege,” President Biden said.
Feature Image: President Joe Biden signs executive orders on healthcare access and affordability in January 2021. (Photo by Adam Schultz/White House)
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