On Monday, President Biden signed the massive $777.7 billion 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law.
The bill authorizes $740.3 billion for the Pentagon, $27.8 billion for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons program, and $9.9 billion for “Defense-related Activities Outside NDAA Jurisdiction.” Many media outlets are reporting the NDAA as a $768 billion bill, ignoring the additional $9.9 billion.
Biden initially requested $753 billion for the NDAA, but Congress decided to add another $25 billion. The push to increase the NDAA was led by hawkish Republicans who argued that more spending was needed to confront China, but the effort ultimately received bipartisan support.
With China being the Pentagon’s main focus, a good portion of the spending bill will go towards the research, development, testing, and evaluation for new weapons technology, known as RDT&E. The NDAA authorizes over $117 billion for RDT&E, which will be used to develop hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, space and cyber capabilities, and other advanced weaponry.
The NDAA includes $7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), another China-related measure. US military leaders requested the PDI to build up forces in the Asia Pacific to further encircle China. Part of the plan includes establishing a network of long-range missiles near China’s coast.
The NDAA passage comes amid heightened tensions between the US and Russia around Ukraine, and the spending bill includes $300 million in military aid for Kyiv.
An earlier House version of the NDAA included an amendment from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) that would have required the US to end support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, but it was stripped in the compromise version. An amendment requiring women to register from the draft was also removed from the final NDAA.