Must-Pass Defense Bill Aims to Strengthen US Military
The Senate and House Armed Services committees have introduced a $886.3 billion defense bill with the goal of providing the largest raise for service members in over two decades. In addition to this, the bill aims to temporarily extend a controversial surveillance program and bolster the US posture in the Indo-Pacific region to counter Chinese actions.
Increased Funding and Policy Agenda
The recently approved National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2024 authorizes $28 billion, a 3% increase from the previous fiscal year. This legislation serves as a framework for the Department of Defense and the US military’s policy agenda, aligning spending with the Pentagon’s priorities.
Notable Omissions and Inclusion of Measures
Unlike the House defense policy bill, the joint package does not include two controversial provisions related to abortion and transgender healthcare access. However, it does feature multiple measures aimed at “ending wokeness in the military.” The bill also extends the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and authorizes funding for the program.
Support for Service Members and Families
The defense bill includes various provisions to enhance service members’ wages and benefits, with the intention of improving recruitment and retention. These provisions encompass a boost in service member basic pay, monthly bonuses for junior enlisted members, increased reimbursements for housing and childcare expenses, and support for military spouses.
Surveillance Program Extension and Chinese Aggression
The bill incorporates a short-term extension of a controversial law allowing warrantless surveillance of foreign nationals. It also aims to counter Chinese aggression through the authorization of funds for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and the establishment of a military training program for Taiwan. Additionally, the bill facilitates the implementation of the AUKUS agreement and the eventual sale of nuclear-capable submarines to Australia.
Critical Race Theory and Parents’ Rights
The package prohibits the teaching, training, or promotion of critical race theory in the military and restricts the display of unapproved flags at military installations. Moreover, it introduces a Parents Bill of Rights, granting parents the authority to review curriculum and provide consent for various activities within Department of Defense schools.
Covid-19 Vaccines and Personnel Files
The legislation requires the defense secretary to inform service members who were discharged for not receiving the Covid-19 vaccine about the reinstatement process. It treats the lapse in service as a “career intermission” to prevent negative impacts on future promotions. Additionally, the bill mandates the correction of personnel files for discharged individuals to ensure they receive full retirement benefits.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice.
Contributor: Clare Foran
Read More of this Story at www.cnn.com – 2023-12-14 02:53:00
Read More Latest News