US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approves bill backing record military spending

WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday backed legislation that paves the way for the defense budget to hit a record $858 billion next year, an increase of $45 billion. than proposed by President Joe Biden.

The House passed the compromise version of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, an annual bill-setting policy must for the Pentagon, by 350-80, far exceeding a majority of two third party required to pass the legislation and send it for a vote in the Senate.

The NDAA for fiscal year 2023 authorizes $858 billion in military spending and includes a 4.6% wage increase for troops; funding for arms, ships and aircraft purchases; and support for Taiwan as it faces aggression from China and Ukraine as it fights an invasion by Russia.

“This bill is Congress exercising its power to authorize and oversee,” said Rep. Adam Smith, Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in a speech calling for support for the measure.

Because it is one of the few major bills passed each year, members of Congress use the NDAA as a vehicle for a range of initiatives, some unrelated to defense.

This year’s bill — the result of months of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate — needed a two-thirds majority in the House after some House members disagreed over whether to vote. include a voting rights amendment.

The fiscal year 2023 NDAA includes a provision demanded by many Republicans requiring the Secretary of Defense to rescind a warrant requiring members of the armed forces to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

It provides Ukraine with at least $800 million in additional security aid next year and includes a series of provisions aimed at bolstering Taiwan amid tensions with China.

The bill authorizes more funds to develop new weapons and purchase systems, including Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jets and ships manufactured by General Dynamics (GD.N).

The Senate is expected to pass the NDAA next week, sending it to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law.

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

Congressional leaders have yet to agree an appropriations bill for next year.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Mark Porter and Jonathan Oatis

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