Trump signs $716 bn defence authorization bill

Washington, Aug 14 (IANS) | Publish Date: 8/14/2018 12:55:41 PM IST

US President Donald Trump signed into law the $716 billion annual defence policy bill, the earliest in the year the bill has become law in more than four decades.

“The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is the most significant investment in our military and our warfighters in modern history, and I am very proud to be a big, big part of it,” Trump said before signing the bill on Monday.

“It was not very hard. You know, I went to Congress, I said let’s do it, we got to do it. We’re going to strengthen our military like never, ever before, and that’s what we did,” he said.

Trump signed the bill during a visit to Fort Drum, New York, where he was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, Deputy Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, reports The Hill.

This year’s NDAA authorizes about $639 billion for the base budget of the Pentagon and defence programmes of the Energy Department. 

It also allows for another $69 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

It fulfils several of the administration’s priorities to bulk up the military, including adding 15,600 troops across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

The bill also follows the administration’s request for 77 F-35 fighter jets and goes beyond the its request for Navy ships, authorizing a total of 13 new vessels.

“We will replace aging tanks, aging planes and ships with the most advanced and lethal technology ever developed, and hopefully we’ll be so strong we’ll never have to use them,” Trump said.

The bill also gives troops a 2.6 per cent pay raise, the highest in nine years, The Hill reported.

On Monday, Trump made no mention of the bill’s namesake.

With the NDAA signed into law, Congress now turns its attention to passing a defence spending bill to make the dollar amounts authorized by the NDAA a reality. The House passed a Pentagon spending bill in June, while the Senate is expected to start considering its version as soon as this week.

China to assess new US defence act

China’s Commerce Ministry said on Tuesday it will comprehensively assess a new US defence act that strengthens the role of a key committee tasked with reviewing proposed foreign investment, and called for fair treatment of Chinese investors.

US President Donald Trump signed a $716 billion defence policy act on Monday that authorises military spending and includes watered-down controls on US government contracts with China’s ZTE Corp and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

In a short statement, China’s Commerce Ministry said it had noted the inclusion of CFIUS in the act and would “comprehensively assess the contents”, paying close attention to the impact on Chinese firms.

“Chinese and US companies have a strong wish to deepen investment cooperation, and the potential is enormous,” the ministry added. “The governments of the two countries should listen to the voices of the companies, and provide a good environment and stable expectations,” it added.

“The US side should objectively and fairly treat Chinese investors, and avoid CFIUS becoming an obstacle to investment cooperation between Chinese and US firms.”

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