The Senate Armed Services Committee sent to the full chamber its recommended 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which increases defend spending and extends the Pentagon's ability to support Ukraine and Taiwan.
A bipartisan 23-3 vote approved advancing the bill, which calls for $857.6 billion in defense spending, $45 billion above the budget requested by the Biden administration "to address the effects of inflation and accelerate implementation of the National Defense Strategy."
The legislation authorizes $817.33 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) and $29.5 billion for national security programs within the Department of Energy (DOE).
"As this committee has always done for as long as I can remember, we came together in a bipartisan way to build a strong bill," Ranking Member Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said in a release Thursday. "We were able to strengthen national security in the face of unprecedented threats, including from China and Russia, and take care of our troops and their families, who sacrifice so much.
"It's not the bill I would have written on my own, but it's a good bill that deserves, and has rightfully earned, broad support."
Active-duty troop strength authorized by the legislation includes 473,000 for the Army, 354,000 for the Navy, 177,000 for the Marines, 325,344 for the Air Force, and 8,600 for the Space Force.
The bill extends and modifies the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Pentagon to buy new weapons and ammunition to supply to Ukraine as opposed to drawing from the current U.S. military inventory.
It authorizes more than $2.7 billion for the U.S. to ramp up munitions production and expand for future production to replenish the artillery rounds, rockets, and missiles supplied to Ukraine.
With Taiwan, the bill would make it the official policy of the U.S. to maintain the ability of the armed forces to deter China from "using military force to unilaterally change the status quo with Taiwan."
It also seeks to bolster Taiwanese defenses by requiring Taipei to "develop and implement a multi-year plan to provide for the acquisition of appropriate defensive capabilities," as well as for the U.S. military to engage in combined planning and training exercises with Taiwan.
"As President Reagan once said, we can safeguard peace only with strength. This year's NDAA, if enacted, would send a strong signal to nations like China and Russia that the U.S. is serious about our national defense during the most dangerous time since the Cold War," Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. tweeted.
The bill also includes:
- Amending the Military Selective Service Act to require the registration of women for Selective Service.
- Supports the Air Force plan to phase out the A-10s, "Warthogs," over the next six years and assign its close air support mission to F-16s.
- Puts the brakes on the Air Force plan to retire 33 older F-22 Block 20 Raptors, considered by many to be the world's best air-to-air fighters.
- Provides funding for 40 new F-35As for the Air Force — seven more than the administration requested — 13 F-35C aircraft for the Navy and 15 F-35Bs for the Marines.
- Authorizes a 4.6% pay raise for the military and the DOD civilian workforce.
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