Senate Approves Unprecedented $886 Billion Defense Policy Legislation

The Senate greenlit a historic $886 billion military budget for 2024 by approving the annual National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday. With robust bipartisan backing, the extensive 3,000-page legislation sailed through the Senate in a 87-13 vote. The bill is now on its way to the House, set to be deliberated before lawmakers depart for the holidays on Thursday.

In a move that sidestepped contentious social issues, the Democrat-controlled Senate omitted provisions from the House version that addressed abortion access restrictions and limitations on transgender healthcare treatment for military personnel and their families. Notably, Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) 10-month-long protest, blocking military promotions, centered around a Pentagon policy reimbursing out-of-state travel for service members undergoing abortions.

The legislation prolongs Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act until April 19, preventing the expiration of the surveillance authority that allows warrantless monitoring of foreigners in the United States, originally set to lapse at the end of December.

Additionally, the bill includes the most substantial pay raise for service members in over two decades, with a 5.2% increase slated for the next year, aimed at bolstering military recruitment and retention efforts.

The 2024 NDAA, defining the Pentagon’s spending priorities for the fiscal year, allocates $11.5 billion to counter China in the Indo-Pacific and earmarks $800 million in military aid for Ukraine.

“At a time of huge trouble for global security, doing the defense authorization bill is more important than ever,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the floor ahead of the vote.

“Passing the NDAA enables us to hold the line against Russia, stand firm against the Chinese Communist Party and ensure America’s defenses remain state of the art at all times.”

Before the week concludes, President Biden has urged Congress to greenlight an extra $61 billion in aid for Ukraine.