Dec 23, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden signs record $886 billion defense bill into law

Biden walks behind a lectern with the American flag behind him.

President Biden after delivering remarks in the Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Dec. 13 in Washington, DC. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed an $886 billion defense bill into law on Friday that extends Ukraine aid and joint programs with the Israeli military.

Why it matters: The legislation authorizes funding and sets policy for the Pentagon without including conservative provisions on abortion; diversity, equity and inclusion programs; or transgender health care.

Details: Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for more than six decades straight.

  • This year's bill, among other things, allows the Defense Department to continue the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative through 2027.
  • The Defense Department can also replace certain weapons and munitions transferred to Ukraine through fiscal year 2025, and procure additional munitions.
  • The bill says the U.S. can research and test "anti-tunnel capabilities" with Israel through 2026 as well, and authorizes funding for and coproduction with Israel for the David's Sling weapon system, designed to intercept enemy rockets and missiles.

By the numbers: The record $886 billion bill is up 3% from last year, per NBC News.

  • Troops will receive a 5.2% pay raise.

Of note: Also included in this year's NDAA is the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act, which Transparency International U.S. says is "arguably the most sweeping and consequential foreign bribery law in nearly half a century."

  • The legislation bars foreign officials from requesting or taking a bribe from an American, American company or anyone inside the country, Transparency International U.S. said.

Between the lines: Members of the House Freedom Caucus criticized Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) for allowing the NDAA to pass without certain conservative provisions, calling it "an utter disaster for House Republicans and a massive unforced error from leadership."

The big picture: House members left Washington after failing to reach an agreement with the Senate and White House on a new military aid package for Ukraine and Israel.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the Capitol earlier this month to make the case for continued support amid Russia's ongoing invasion.
  • Lawmakers have been negotiating a package that would pair Ukraine aid with U.S. border security funding, as well as assistance for Israel as the war in Gaza continues.

Go deeper: Senate passes defense bill despite culture-war pushback from GOP hardliners

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