Lazy eyes listen
US President Joe Biden has signed into law the country’s largest-ever military budget. The $886.3 billion bill increases salaries for American troops while providing only a quarter of the military aid requested by Ukraine.
On Friday, Biden signed the 2024 National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), which was enacted by Congress with bipartisan backing last week. The bill, at $886.3 billion, gives the Pentagon 3% more money than last year’s NDAA, which was $858 billion at the time.
Despite “concerns” about the bill’s substance, Biden stated he signed it. He criticised clauses that compel the White House to use US government funds to transfer detainees from Guantánamo Bay to prisons in the US or other countries, as well as measures that require the White House to use US government funds to transfer detainees from Guantánamo Bay to prisons in the US or other nations
The bill also extends until April the authorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Despite the FBI admitting to using it to illegally spy American citizens more than 280,000 times in 2020 and 2021, the statute authorises US intelligence services to conduct warrantless surveillance of international communications. Several Democrats and Republicans opposed the reauthorization, with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden protesting earlier this month that it was slipped into the NDAA “without a vote or debate.”
The NDAA includes $300 million in military aid for Ukraine over the next year, which the Pentagon intends to spend on private contractors to procure weaponry and ammunition for Kiev. This programme, known as the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, is one of the methods that Biden has supported.
However, $300 million falls well short of the $61 billion in direct military help pledged by Biden to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky as part of a separate $105 billion budget measure. Republicans have threatened to prevent the bill’s passage unless Biden includes significant revisions to immigration law as well as measures to strengthen border security.
The United States now spends more than twice as much on defence as it did 20 years ago. Former President Barack Obama is the first recent US leader to have reduced military spending, reducing the Pentagon’s budget from $752 billion in 2011 to $633 billion in 2015.