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Biden signs defense authorization bill days before deadline

President Biden on Friday signed the $858 billion annual defense authorization bill after Congress passed the legislation just before the year-end deadline.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the Senate last week with an overwhelming bipartisan majority, 83-11. The bill has been named the “James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023” after retiring Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“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,” Biden said in a statement on Friday. 

The measure provides $45 billion more for defense than called for in Biden’s budget, including allocating $817 billion to the Department of Defense and $30 billion to the Department of Energy. It includes language demanded by conservative Republicans to end the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which has been in place since August 2021. 

Biden noted in his statement that there are certain parts of the legislation he is concerned with.

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

He specially mentioned that the measures includes a provision that continues to bar the use of funds appropriated to the Defense Department to transfer Guantánamo Bay detainees to the custody or effective control of certain foreign countries. It also has a provision to continue to prohibit the use of such funds to transfer certain Guantánamo Bay detainees into the United States.

“In some circumstances, these provisions could make it difficult to comply with the final judgment of a court that has directed the release of a detainee on writ of habeas corpus, including by constraining the flexibility of the executive branch with respect to its engagement in delicate negotiations with foreign countries over the potential transfer of detainees,” Biden said, urging Congress to eliminate these provisions.

He also said he is concerned with provisions that would effectively require Biden and officials to submit reports to certain congressional committees that involve highly sensitive classified information, including information that could reveal critical intelligence sources or military operational plans, among other provisions.

This marked the 61st year in a row that Congress has passed the defense bill on time.

Source: The Hill

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