Joe Biden signed a $770 billion defense bill to increase spending in almost every facet of the military.
The National Defense Authorization Act ended up being a whopping $24 billion more than Biden initially asked for, the Daily Caller reports. It passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support in December.
The bill increases spending to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia, counter military expansion in China and obtain more advanced aircraft and ships.
While making the budget proposal, the Biden administration identified China as a “top challenge.”
“The discretionary request prioritizes the need to counter the threat from China as the Department’s top challenge. The Department would also seek to deter destabilizing behavior by Russia,” Biden’s budget request issued in April read.
The bill also increases pay for more service members by 2.7 percent.
“The Act authorizes fiscal year appropriations principally for the Department of Defense for Department of Energy national security programs, and for the Department of State,” Biden said in a statement Monday following the bill’s signature. “The Act provides vital benefits and enhances access to justice for military personnel and their families, and includes critical authorities to support our country’s national defense.”
Biden criticized some parts of the bill relating to Guantanamo Bay, calling it unfortunate that one section “continues to bar the use of funds to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to the custody or effective control of certain foreign countries.” He also called out a section of the bill that “bars the use of funds to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees into the United States unless certain conditions are met.”
“It is the longstanding position of the executive branch that these provisions unduly impair the ability of the executive branch to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo Bay detainees and where to send them upon release,” Biden said.
Still, the bill, which covers the fiscal year 2022, includes some marked changes. One agreement will overhaul how the military handles internal criminal investigations. Military commanders will now lose much of the previous authority they had to prosecute sexual assault cases. They’ll often be replaced by independent military prosecutors.