U.S. President Biden signs $770 billion defense bill

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division soldiers listen as President Donald Trump speaks before signing the National Defense Authorization Act at Fort Drum, New York, U.S., August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, for fiscal year 2022, which authorizes $770 billion in defense spending, the White House said on Monday.

Earlier this month, the Senate and the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for the defense bill with strong support from both Democrats and Republicans for the annual legislation setting policy for the Department of Defense.

The NDAA is closely watched by a broad swath of industry and other interests because it is one of the only major pieces of legislation that becomes law every year and because it addresses a wide range of issues. The NDAA has become law every year for six decades.

Authorizing about 5% more military spending than last year, the fiscal 2022 NDAA is a compromise after intense negotiations between House and Senate Democrats and Republicans after being stalled by disputes over China and Russia policy.

It includes a 2.7% pay increase for the troops, and more aircraft and Navy ship purchases, in addition to strategies for dealing with geopolitical threats, especially Russia and China.

The NDAA includes $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which provides support to Ukraine’s armed forces, $4 billion for the European Defense Initiative and $150 million for Baltic security cooperation.

On China, the bill includes $7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and a statement of congressional support for the defense of Taiwan, as well as a ban on the Department of Defense procuring products produced with forced labor from China’s Xinjiang region.

It creates a 16-member commission to study the war in Afghanistan. Biden ended the conflict – by far the country’s longest war – in August.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Porter and Matthew Lewis)

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