The agreed upon text includes a $45 billion bonus on top of the $813 billion request by the Biden administration with those extra dollars increasing the allotment provided for procurement; research, development, test and evaluation; operation and maintenance; military construction; and defense-related nuclear programs.
“We are pleased to announce we’ve come to a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. This year’s agreement continues the Armed Services Committees’ 62-year tradition of working together to support our troops and strengthen America’s national security. We urge Congress to pass the NDAA quickly and the President to sign it when it reaches his desk,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA), ranking member Mike Rogers (R-AL), Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-RI), and SASC ranking ember Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said in a statement.
Tuesday’s agreement includes a controversial measure to end the military’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, which President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had been in favor of maintaining. The mandate has already resulted in the separation of thousands of service members. The mandate has garnered conservative criticism for months, with many promising the reversal of the policy if Republicans won back the majority in the midterm elections.
The language within the NDAA encourages Austin to ensure all service members who had been discharged for refusing to get the vaccine receive their full veterans benefits, and it requires the secretary report to Congress on efforts to standardize the religious and administrative vaccine exemption requests.
“We lost a million people to this virus… A million people died in the United States of America. We lost hundreds in DOD. So this mandate has kept people healthy,” Austin said this weekend, adding, “I support continuation of vaccinating the troops.”
The legislation also authorizes $800 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which is when the department funds the production of military equipment, requires quarterly briefings on the efforts to replenish U.S. stocks of tactical missiles that have been provided to Ukraine. The latter has occurred through the president’s drawdown authority, or his ability to provide Ukraine with weapons from U.S. stockpiles. The language, per a readout from the GOP, authorizes the acquisition of lethal drones for Ukraine and the replenishment of defense equipment provided to the country from allies.