What’s Not In The Latest National Defense Authorization Act
While the latest National Defense Authorization Act contains a pay raise for the military, funding for jets and warships as well as nearly $70 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, there are some glaring omissions in the defense policy bill.
Among which being the saving grace for Chinese tech giant ZTE which was banned from receiving any government contracts under the act signed by President Donald Trump Monday.
Initially, Trump had fought to include both ZTE and Huawei on a list of acceptable government contractors, but after wrangling in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, the new defense bill bans them from being used by both the government and contractors for the U.S. government.
In June, Senators passed a bill banning ZTE from purchasing any electronic components manufactured in or software created in the U.S. The ban came just two months after the U.S. Department of Commerce initiated a trade ban on ZTE for alleged violations of trade sanctions with Iran and North Korea.
After the Commerce Department ban, Trump indicated he would attempt to resuscitate the company with a deal.
However, members in the House failed to agree with the Senate’s ban, leaving in question whether the tech company would face any sanctions at all.
But, as a compromise, the contractor ban was inserted into the defense policy bill.
Another part left out of the NDAA was a provision argued for by Defense Secretary James Mattis to allow the waiver of sanctions against countries who previously purchased arms from Russia, but now seek to buy arms from the United States. Mattis said lifting the sanctions would help relations with countries like Vietnam and Indonesia, however the final language lifting the sanctions was stripped out of the bill.
What the act does include is a 2.6 percent pay increase for the military along with funding for 77 new F-35 fighter jets and 13 new vessels for the U.S. Navy. The measure also includes funding to increase military strength by 15,600 across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. It also includes full funding for the development of the new B-21 bomber.
“This measure continues to rebuild and repair our military while making needed reforms in the Pentagon,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in a statement. “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.”
In total, the act funds approximately $717 billion — which includes the $639 billion base budget for the Pentagon and defense programs within the Department of Energy.
“With this new authorization, we will increase the size and strength of our military by adding thousands of new recruits to active duty, Reserve and National Guard units, including 4,000 new active duty soldiers,” Trump said during the act signing ceremony at Fort Drum in New York, according to a statement by the Department of Defense. “And we will replace aging tanks, aging planes and ships with the most advanced and lethal technology ever developed. And hopefully, we’ll be so strong, we’ll never have to use it, but if we ever did, nobody has a chance.”
Another provision of the act is for the establishment of domestic violence as a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The amendment creating the policy was authored by Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada) and Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) and passed by the House in December 2017. The provision makes domestic violence a separate criminal offense in the UCMJ, thus it would prevent those convicted of domestic violence from being able to purchase firearms. Prior to the passage of the Military Domestic Violence Enhancement Act, domestic violence was not categorized as assault.
“This bill gives our men and women in uniform the pay raise they deserve and will improve our military’s aviation safety,” Rosen said, in a statement on her website. “I’m also happy to see my amendment, to close a dangerous loophole and make domestic violence a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, become law.”
The next step in the defense funding process will be for appropriations committees to use the NDAA as a guideline to set specific funding measures. The defense appropriations bill is still maneuvering through Congress.
Matthew Clark is an Executive Editor for theDailyLead.