President Donald Trump signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act into law in an event held in the White House on Tuesday.  The bill represents a significant step toward ending the current continuing resolution spending the Defense Department has been trapped under since the start of the new fiscal year on November 1st, but the appropriations bill, which actually provides lines of accounting for the defense bill, has yet to be approved by Congress.

Once the appropriations bill passes as well, the 2018 NDAA will provide the Pentagon with a whopping $692 billion, with $626 billion for the department’s base budget and another $66 billion allocated for ongoing combat operations in theaters around the globe.

This historic legislation demonstrates our unwavering commitment to our men and women in uniform — the greatest fighting force in the history of the world — and we’re making it a lot better than even that,” Trump said before signing the bill.

The president went on to say that the legislation “represents a momentous step toward rebuilding our military and securing the future for our children.”

In his remarks, Trump seemed to extend an olive branch of sorts to Republican Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who has been a target of the president’s criticisms in the past.

I also want to thank Senator John McCain for the work he’s done on this bill. He has fought very, very hard to make it just the way he wants it and that we all want it.” He said.

Senior defense officials have been calling on lawmakers to provide not only an influx of funding, but more financial stability for years now.  Budget constraints, particularly under the Obama-era sequestration, significantly hindered the Defense Department’s ability to continue necessary maintenance and training operations through the past 16 years of warfare in multiple theaters.

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In recent years, our military has undergone a series of deep budget cuts that have severely impacted our readiness, shrunk our capabilities and placed substantial burdens on our warfighters. History teaches us that when you weaken your defenses, you invite aggression.” Trump said.

The government’s inability to pass budgets in a timely manner has left the Pentagon operating without a budget at regular intervals throughout the past two decades.  While this bill does provide a needed influx of cash over previous budgets, the fight for budget stability will remain ongoing.

The president listed a few new toys the surge in spending will allow the Defense Department to acquire, including more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and submarines.

It upgrades our Ground Combat Vehicles, allows for the purchase of new Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, and paves the way for beautiful new Virginia-class submarines — the finest in the world.”

In keeping with the president’s stated emphasis on America’s war fighters, the bill also includes a 2.4 percent raise for the military, which represents the largest pay hike for service members since 2010.

 Finally, the defense bill authorizes major investments in our military’s greatest weapon of all: its warriors,” he said. “The NDAA increases the size of the American armed forces for the first time in seven years, and it provides our military service members with their largest pay increase in eight years.”

 

 

Image courtesy of the Associated Press