WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to pass a roughly 770-billion-U.S.-dollar defense spending bill for fiscal year 2022.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) cleared the House last week and now goes to President Joe Biden's desk to be signed into law.
"For the past six years, Congress worked on a bipartisan basis to pass an annual defense authorization act without fail. ... With so many priorities to balance, I thank my colleagues for working hard over these last few months, both in committee and off the floor, to get NDAA done," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York.
Passed in the Senate in an 89-10 vote, the 768.2-billion-dollar package provides 740 billion dollars for the Defense Department, 27.8 billion dollars for defense-related activities in the Department of Energy, and another 378 million dollars for other defense-related activities.
The NDAA authorizes 25 billion dollars to increase Biden's defense budget request for fiscal year 2022. Plus, it gives a 2.7 percent pay rise for military service members and the Pentagon's civilian employees.
Along with authorizing funding for the Defense Department, this year's NDAA includes changes to the military justice system to address the inability the Pentagon has been accused of for decades to stem sexual assault in military ranks. The bill strips authority from military commanders to prosecute sex offenses, and instead tasks independent military lawyers with prosecuting sexual assault cases.
The bill will also establish "a multi-year independent Afghanistan War Commission" to examine the 20-year conflict and the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops ordered by Biden in August, according to a summary of the legislation. It requires the secretary of defense to provide "in-depth" reports to Congress about the U.S. ability to counter terrorism in the region, the "accountability" of military equipment left in the country, as well as plans to evacuate Americans and "Afghan allies" who still remained there.
Other issues in the bill include addressing extremism in the military by directing the Pentagon to submit a report with recommendation for adopting a "separate punitive" measure to tackle violent extremism.
The legislation, however, does not contain a repeal of the 2002 war resolution that paved the way for the U.S. military invasion of Iraq, despite the fact that the Senate Democratic leadership has vowed to take up the provision and that the White House has endorsed it.
The two-decade-old resolution has long been controversial because then President George W. Bush's claims that the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction -- the excuse used by the Bush administration to invade Iraq -- have never been proven factually correct.
Sanctions called for by Republican senators Ted Cruz and Jim Risch in relation to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline didn't get into the legislation either.