Biden Signs $768B Defense Bill That Keeps Women From Draft, Alters Military Justice System
On Monday, President Joe Biden signed a $768.2 billion defense bill into law that keeps women from the military draft and alters the military justice system.
The National Defense Authorization Act has measures in it that change how the military justice system manages sexual assault and other related crimes, essentially removing military commanders’ prosecutorial jurisdiction over those cases.
Republicans were able to prevent attempts to include women in the draft and added a measure that prohibits dishonorable discharge for service members who refuse to take the COVID vaccine.
The authorized $768.2 billion includes a number of items for defense, such as a 2.7 percent pay raise for service members in 2022. The act, which received bipartisan support when it was passed earlier this month, increases overall military spending by 5 percent.
“The Act provides vital benefits and enhances access to justice for military personnel and their families, and includes critical authorities to support our country’s national defense,” the president said in a statement.
Along with spending and provisions for the U.S. military, the act also prohibits goods manufactured via forced Uyghur labor in China from entering the U.S. and starts planning on the proposed Global War on Terror Memorial on the National Mall.
The $768.2 billion price tag marks $25 billion more than Biden initially requested from Congress in a prior proposal that was rejected by members of both parties out of concerns it would undermine U.S. efforts to keep pace militarily with China and Russia.
The bill includes $7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and a statement of congressional support for the defense of Taiwan, measures intended to counteract China’s influence in the region.
It also includes $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a show of support in the face of Russian aggression, as well as $4 billion for the European Defense Initiative.
In his statement, the president also outlined a number of provisions his administration opposes over what he characterized as “constitutional concerns or questions of construction.”
Those planks include provisions that restrict the use of funds to transfer or release individuals detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, which the Biden administration is moving to close. Biden’s statement said the provisions “unduly impair” the executive branch’s ability to decide when and where to prosecute detainees and where to send them when they’re released and could constrain U.S. negotiations with foreign countries over the transfer of detainees in a way that could undermine national security.