By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration said on Tuesday it strongly supports swift passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, as Congress rushed to complete the $886 billion defense policy bill before the end of the year.
“The NDAA provides the critical authorities we need to build the military required to deter future conflicts while supporting the service members and their spouses and families who carry out that mission every day,” the administration said in a statement.
The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, is one of the few major pieces of legislation Congress passes every year.
The Senate and House are both expected to approve the fiscal 2024 bill later this week, sending it to the White House for Biden to sign into law. The Senate backed a procedural measure ending debate on the measure by 85 to 15 on Tuesday, far beyond the 60 needed to advance the measure to a final vote.
Separate from the appropriations bills setting government spending levels, the NDAA governs everything from pay raises for the troops – this year’s will be 5.2% – to purchases of ships and aircraft to policies such as support for Ukraine.
This year’s bill also includes a four-month extension of a key domestic surveillance authority, giving lawmakers more time to either reform or keep the disputed program, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The fiscal 2024 NDAA authorizes a record $886 billion in military spending, up 3% from last year.
The Republican-majority House passed its version of the bill earlier this year, followed by the Senate, which is controlled by Biden’s fellow Democrats. Negotiators from both parties and both chambers unveiled their compromise version last week.
The final version of the NDAA left out many provisions addressing divisive social issues, such as access to abortion and treatment of transgender service members, that had been included in the version passed by the House, threatening to derail the bill.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Deepa Babington)