Congress passes $768 billion defense policy bill
US bipartisan lawmakers rushed to advance a bill that would increase the defense budget by more than what Biden has requested.
Congress passed on Tuesday a $768 billion defense policy bill with an overwhelming majority after bipartisan lawmakers dropped proposals that would have repealed the 2002 authorization of the Iraq war and imposed sanctions for a Russian gas pipeline.
According to The New York Times, the legislation, which was only unveiled hours before the vote, increased the Pentagon's budget by $24 billion above what US President Joe Biden had requested. This angered progressives in Congress, who were hoping that Democratic control of the White House and Congress would lead to cuts to military programs.
Biden had pledged, following the withdrawal from Afghanistan, that the US would counter threats through military technology and cybersecurity, declaring the end of an era defined by ground wars and large troop deployments.
Lawmakers rejected Biden's request to keep military spending flat and called to increase it substantially, “One of the major challenges our military faces right now is dealing with the rapid pace of technology, is getting the Pentagon to better and more quickly adopt the innovative technologies that we need to meet our national security threats,” said Representative Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “Those threats are very real.”
The legislation was sent to the Senate, where it is expected to pass with a bipartisan vote. It will ultimately also authorize a 2.7% pay increase for the US military.
In order to pass it, lawmakers had to discard a measure requiring women to register for the draft, a bill to repeal the 2002 law authorizing the invasion of Iraq, and a bill to impose sanctions over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.