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Joe Biden passes $858B defense bill days before deadline

Washington, Dec 23 (Prensa Latina) President Joe Biden on Friday signed Congress´ 2023 defense bill into law just before deadline, authorizing $858 billion in spending and overturning his administration´s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for service members.

The National Defense Authorization Act was passed by Senate last week with an overwhelming bipartisan majority (83-11 vote).

“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, foreign affairs, and homeland security,” President Biden said in a statement on Friday.

“While I´m pleased to support these critical objectives, I note that certain provisions of the Act raise concerns.”

Biden particularly mentioned these new measures include a provision that continues to prevent the use of funds appropriated to the Department of Defense to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to the custody or effective control of certain foreign countries.

“In some circumstances, these provisions could make it difficult to comply with a court’s final judgment, including restricting the flexibility of the executive branch with respect to its involvement in negotiations with foreign countries,” Biden stressed, and urged Congress to eliminate these measures.

The approved National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is $45 billion more than the Biden administration’s initial request. It allocates $817 billion to the Department of Defense and $30 billion to the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons programs.

It marks a roughly a 10% jump in military and defense spending from last year. U.S. service members had been required to get the COVID-19 vaccine since September 2021.


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