U.S. Senate passes $858 billion defense bill
Updated 18:35, 16-Dec-2022
U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. /CFP
U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. /CFP

U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. /CFP

The U.S. Senate passed legislation on Thursday authorizing a record $858 billion in annual defense spending, $45 billion more than proposed by U.S. President Joe Biden.

It has become a "trend" that the congress, which has passed the defense budget every year since 1961, approves a figure that is always more than requested. This year's budget is an over 4 percent increase from the fiscal year 2022 amount, and about 10 percent higher than in the fiscal year 2021.

The U.S. accounted for 39 percent of global total military spending in 2020, more than the total military spending by China, India, Russia, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Australia, according to the 2020 global military spending trend report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in April last year,

This year's National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, an annual must-pass bill-setting policy for the Pentagon, was passed by an overwhelming 83-11 bipartisan majority. The no votes came from a mix of liberals who object to the ever-rising military budget and fiscal conservatives who want tighter controls on spending.

The increased defense budget cites national security, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and "increased competition from other nation states." The bill says it will provide Ukraine with at least $800 million in additional security assistance next year and it also includes a range of provisions regarding Taiwan.

The bill also authorizes more funds to develop hypersonic weapons, close the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii and purchase weapons systems including Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jets and ships made by General Dynamics.

The NDAA is not the final word on spending. Authorization bills create programs, but Congress must pass appropriations bills to give the government legal authority to spend federal money.

A bill to fund the government through September 30, 2023, the end of the fiscal year, is expected to pass Congress next week.

(With input from Reuters)

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