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Trump signs $717 billion defense bill with record military pay increase, and more

President Donald J. Trump (Joyce N. Boghosian/White House)
August 13, 2018

A ceremony held Monday afternoon at Fort Drum commemorated the signing of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, or H.R. 5515, the $717 billion bill that will fund the military for Fiscal Year 2019.

President Trump signed the bill, titled the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, during the ceremony.

Watch the ceremony here:

The bill allocates $717 billion in military funding, including a 2.6-percent pay raise for military personnel, along with bonuses and special compensation for high-demand service roles. The pay raise surpasses the 2.4-percent increase in the 2018 budget, and is the largest increase in military pay since the 2010 budget.

The bill is a relatively small increase of $17 billion over the 2018 budget, which increased by over $150 billion, or about 27 percent. The bill also authorizes an additional 15,600 service members, according to a Department of Defense release.

It is also the first defense bill since 1996 to be signed into law before Oct. 1. ahead of the fiscal year, Politico reported.

Vice President Mike Pence also attended the ceremony. The trip is a first for the President and Vice President to Fort Drum in upstate New York.

In March, Rep. Elise Stefanik invited President Trump to visit the Army base, which is home of the 10th Mountain Division.

“I am honored that the President will sign the historic National Defense Authorization Act in our district at Fort Drum. I am proud of the partnership with this Administration to begin rebuilding our military and the President’s visit is an important opportunity to highlight this achievement and to thank our men and women in uniform for their service,” Stefanik said, according to local news outlet Watertown Daily Times.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, also released a statement on Monday’s signing:

“I appreciate President Trump’s commitment to strengthening our military, as evidenced by his signing this bill.  This action, and the large votes in both the House and Senate, confirm that overwhelming majorities of both parties can work together on behalf of the men and women who serve our nation in the armed forces and their families.”

“This measure continues to rebuild and repair our military while making needed reforms in the Pentagon. It takes important steps to confront the aggressive behavior or Russia, China, and others. Most of all, it helps see that our troops get what they need to carry out the missions they are assigned.”

“It is now essential that we follow this bill with matching appropriations before the beginning of the fiscal year.”

The bill was named in honor of Sen. John McCain, who serves as chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I am particularly humbled that my colleagues chose to designate legislation of such importance in my name,” McCain said, as ABC News reported.

The senator is currently in his home state of Arizona where he is receiving treatment for brain cancer.

“I have found high purpose in the service of a cause greater than self — the cause of the women and men in uniform who defend America and all she stands for,” he said. “I look forward to the president quickly signing it into law.”