The US Senate passed legislation on Thursday approving a record $858 billion in defense spending as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – $45 billion more than requested by President Joe Biden. At least $800 million of the approved funds will be spent on providing military aid to Ukraine, according to a report by Reuters.
The document was passed by an overwhelming 83-11 bipartisan majority, having earlier been approved by the House of Representatives. The NDAA will now head to the White House, where US President Joe Biden is expected to quickly sign it into law.
The military budget for 2023 includes spending to increase military salaries, the purchase of new weapons, including ships and F-35 fighter jets, and the allocation of additional funds to develop hypersonic weapons.
In addition, the NDAA will provide funds to support Taiwan in countering the Chinese threat and Ukraine in its fight against Russian invasion. In particular, the US plans to replenish Kyiv’s stockpiles of equipment and supply munitions critical to the continuation of the war.
The document also contains a provision calling on Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to cancel the mandate requiring US military personnel to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The committees of both houses of Congress agreed on the defense spending bill at the beginning of December. At the time, reports stated that the bill would provide $6 billion for the containment of Russia in Europe and the introduction of secondary sanctions against entities dealing in Russian gold.
The Kremlin claimed that the NDAA was of an “unprecedentedly confrontational nature” with regard to Russia.
Politico reported, citing Pentagon officials, that the US Department of Defense feared “dire consequences” if Congress did not pass the budget by December 16. The supplemental funding resolution would have expired on that date, and would have to been extended if the bill was not passed.
According to Politico, the Pentagon feared that this would lead to a deadline for military funding. In particular, US Undersecretary of Defense Michael McCord said that without an approved military budget, money for aid to Ukraine would run out by next spring.
The previous US military spending bill totaled $740bn.