President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will give the U.S. Military its largest pay raise in seven years, since 2010.
The NDAA calls for a $700 billion Pentagon budget and includes a 2.4-percent pay raise for troops, an increase in the number of troops, and increased spending for aircraft and ships as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.
The NDAA sets the budget but does not provide funding, which Congress must do. Trump urged Congress to pass legislation that will fund the defense budget.
“Now Congress must finish the job by eliminating the defense sequester and passing a clean appropriations bill,” Trump said. “I think it’s gonna happen. We need our military, it’s gotta be perfecto.”
The budget calls for an additional 20,000 troops; funding for weapons systems, retention pay and bonuses; and repairs for Navy ships such as the USS John S. McCain and the USS Fitzgerald, which were both involved in deadly collisions earlier this year.
This is the largest proposed military budget to date, particularly the most significant budget to be passed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Congress still has to come up with a definitive plan to fund the $700 billion budget. It has to approve a defense budget cap increase – the Department of Defense Appropriations Act – in order to accommodate the proposed NDAA. The Act has already been passed in the House.
Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said: “Having the President sign the NDAA conference report into law is a critical milestone in the effort to rebuild America’s military strength, support our troops, and reform the way the Pentagon does business. The policies in this bill reflect months of bipartisan work and agreement. But Congress must follow this authorization with a matching appropriation bill if we are to really rebuild our military. There is more work to do.”
The bill includes 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which is 20 more than the Trump Administration’s request.
The budget also allocates $26.2 billion for 14 new ships, including three littoral combat ships; and flexible spending for $5.9 billion for the Virginia-class submarine programs; $5.6 billion for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; $4.4 billion for aircraft carriers; $3.1 billion for Army helicopters; and $1.9 billion for 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets.
The plan calls for 7,500 Active Duty members, 500 National Guard members and 500 Reservists for the Army; 4,000 Active Duty and 1,000 Reserves for the Navy; 4,100 Active Duty, 900 Guard and 800 Reserves for the Air Force; and 1,000 Active Duty Marines.
The plan to create a new “Space Corps” under the umbrella of the Air Force was rejected.