President-elect Donald Trump hasn’t been sworn into office yet, but that hasn’t stopped the Republican-controlled Congress from already getting started on his agenda, most specifically that of rebuilding and strengthening the military.
According to Fox News, the Senate voted 92-7 on Thursday to pass the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, a spending bill of about $611 billion that will fund the military for fiscal year 2017.
The veto-proof bill, which has already passed the House by an extremely wide margin, will increase defense spending over the amount President Barack Obama had requested, halt the draw-down of active-duty Army troops, forestall planned base closings, prohibit the closure of the military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and give troops a long-awaited pay raise.
Stars and Stripes reported that the 2017 NDAA included the largest pay raise for the troops in six years, which could kick in as early as Jan. 1.
That pay raise of 2.1 percent was half a point higher than the 1.6 percent Obama had requested, which was just marginally higher than the 1.3 percent raise troops received in 2016.
The bill also began the process of overhauling the military’s health care system and acquisition processes, as well as blowing apart the arbitrary spending caps put in place by the “sequester” years ago, according to The Daily Caller.
“With today’s overwhelming 92-7 vote in the Senate, the NDAA has now passed the Congress with veto-proof majorities in both houses,” read a joint statement from Sen. John McCain and Rep. Mac Thornberry, heads of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. “This legislation marks another important step toward reforming our defense enterprise to meet current and future threats.”
“Building on this year’s NDAA, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees will continue to champion the cause of defense reform in the new Congress,” their statement added with an eye toward the next session and the expected agenda of President-elect Trump.
Obama had previously warned that he would veto any defense spending bill that didn’t remain within the confines his budget request had set for the military, but such a move seems highly unlikely given the wide margins by which the spending measure passed both houses of Congress.
This is certainly not something Obama wanted to see as he is about to leave the White House, as it begins the process of reversing his efforts to diminish the U.S. military.
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