President Joe Biden on Monday signed a $768 billion annual defense bill after Congress allocated even more money than his administration requested, Politico reports.
The Biden administration asked Congress for $715 billion in Pentagon funding but lawmakers allocated $740 billion for the Defense Department.
While the bill gives troops a raise of about 2.7%, much of that money will flow to major defense contractors. Unlike Biden’s social policy proposals, Republicans and conservative Democrats did not raise any concerns about inflation or runaway spending.
Republicans argued that Biden’s request was insufficient to keep up with military advances by China and Russia. Democrats largely agreed.
Along with $740 billion for the Pentagon, the bill also includes billions more for the nuclear weapons program, which is overseen by the Energy Department.
Budget games have cut Pentagon funding:
Lawmakers still have to reach a deal to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.
Despite Republican concerns that Biden’s Pentagon budget request was insufficient, the party has pushed back on any possible full-year budget. As a result, Congress has repeatedly passed continuing resolutions that have left funding levels for the Pentagon and other federal agencies at the previous year’s levels under Trump.
That means the Pentagon is running on less funding than even Biden proposed and Congress decided was not enough.
If Congress can authorize the funds, the additional billions will go toward buying weapons, planes, and ships.
Bill includes reforms:
The defense bill also included an overhaul of how the military’s justice system handles sexual assault allegations, which has been a top priority for Democrats.
The bill also includes a Democratic proposal banning private funding for cross-state National Guard deployments, except during natural disasters, after South Dakota used funding from a Republican megadonor to send its National Guard forces to the US-Mexico border.
"There’s a lot to be proud of in this bill," said House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith. "Ultimately, this year’s NDAA focuses on what makes our country strong: our economy, diversity, innovation, allies and partners, democratic values, and our troops."