The House on Thursday passed the massive $858 billion 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in a vote of 350-80, sending the bill to the Senate, where a vote is expected to be held next week.
The $858 billion NDAA is $45 billion more than President Biden asked for, marking the second year in a row that Congress made the military budget higher than what the White House requested. The amount represents an 8% increase from the 2022 NDAA, which was finalized at $782 billion.
According to Defense News, the 2023 NDAA dropped amendments added to the House version that would have restricted weapons sales to countries accused of human rights abuses. Such provisions were included in the House version of the NDAA but didn’t make it past into the final version that was negotiated with the Senate.
Notable amendments packed into the NDAA include a measure that will give the Pentagon wartime purchasing powers by allowing non-competitive, multi-year contracts for certain arms. The authority could be used to refill US stockpiles, arm Ukraine, and assist foreign governments that have provided support for Ukraine.
The list of munitions the Pentagon is allowed to procure using the purchasing powers is extensive and includes HIMARS rocket launch systems, 155mm ammunition, Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and much more.
US weapons manufacturers will benefit greatly from the new authority, especially Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, as many of their systems are on the list. The multi-year contracts will incentivize the arms makers to significantly ramp up production.
The NDAA includes unprecedented military aid for Taiwan, including $10 billion that will be disbursed over five years and $1 billion in annual presidential drawdown authority, which will allow the US to send Taipei weapons directly from Pentagon stockpiles.
Ukraine will receive $800 million in the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative from the NDAA, a program that allows the US government to purchase weapons for Ukraine. But the vast majority of spending on the Ukraine war will come through emergency funding, and the White House is hoping Congress approves a new $37.7 billion tranche of Ukraine aid during the lame-duck period.
The NDAA includes $11.5 billion in new investments for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a program to build up in the Asia Pacific to confront China. The Pentagon has identified China as its main focus, and the NDAA includes investment in new technology research and development that US military leaders say is meant to counter Beijing.