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Biden signs $886 billion US defense policy bill into law

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Biden signs $886 billion US defense policy bill into law © Reuters. Members of the military salute during the 19th annual September 11 observance ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 11, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott/ File Photo

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By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden on Friday signed into law the U.S. defense policy bill that authorizes a record $886 billion in annual military spending and policies such as aid for Ukraine and push-back against China in the Indo-Pacific.

The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, passed Congress last week. The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate approved the legislation with a strong bipartisan majority of 87 to 13 while the House of Representatives voted in favor 310 to 118.

The bill, one of the few major pieces of legislation Congress passes every year, governs everything from pay raises for service members and purchases of ships and aircraft to policies such as support for foreign partners like Taiwan.

The act, nearly 3,100 pages long, called for a 5.2% pay raise for service members and increased the nation’s total national security budget by about 3% to $886 billion. It also lists certain Chinese battery companies that it says are ineligible for Defense Department procurement.

The fiscal 2024 NDAA also includes a four-month extension of a disputed domestic surveillance authority, giving lawmakers more time to either reform or keep the program, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

That provision faced objections in both the Senate and House, but not enough to derail the bill.

The bill extends one measure to help Ukraine, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, through the end of 2026, authorizing $300 million for the program in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2024, and the next one.

However, that figure is small compared to the $61 billion that Biden had asked Congress to approve to help Kyiv combat a Russian invasion that began in February 2022. Republicans had refused to approve assistance for Ukraine without Democrats agreeing to a significant toughening of immigration law.

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