US lawmakers included a statement of support for the defense of Taiwan in efforts to push back against China in a massive annual defense bill released on Tuesday that included a proposal for US$300 million to help Ukraine’s military.
The fiscal 2022 US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes US$770 billion in military spending, US$25 billion more than requested by US President Joe Biden and about 5 percent more than last year’s budget.
The bill — the result of intense negotiations in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate — includes a 2.7 percent pay increase for troops, and more aircraft and navy ship purchases, in addition to strategies for dealing with geopolitical threats.
On China, the bill includes US$7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and a statement of congressional support for the defense of Taiwan, as well as a ban on the US Department of Defense procuring products produced with forced labor from China’s Xinjiang region.
The US has labeled China’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang as genocide and lawmakers have been pushing a ban on imports of products made with forced labor from Uighurs.
China dismisses the genocide charge as a slanderous assertion about conditions in Xinjiang.
The compromise NDAA omits a proposal to require women to register for the military draft that was included in earlier versions.
It includes an overhaul of the military justice system to take decisions on whether to prosecute cases of rape, sexual assault and some other major crimes out of the hands of military commanders.
The NDAA normally passes with strong bipartisan support, and the House of Representatives backed the compromise measure by 363-70 later on Tuesday.
The bill is closely watched by a broad swath of industry and other interests because of its wide scope and because it is one of the only major pieces of legislation that becomes law every year.
This year’s bill was released shortly after US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held two hours of virtual talks on Ukraine and other disputes.
It includes US$300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which provides support to Ukraine’s armed forces, US$4 billion for the European Defense Initiative and US$150 million for Baltic security cooperation.
It does not include a provision that would force Biden to impose sanctions over the US$11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline to take Russian gas directly to Germany.
The measure’s supporters argue that the pipeline would be harmful to European allies.
Lawmakers also omitted an amendment that would have banned Americans from purchasing Russian sovereign debt.
Now that it has passed the House, the NDAA must win Senate backing and be signed by Biden to become law.
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