U.S. Senate approves record $886 billion in defense spending

The U.S. Senate of the Congress supported a defense policy bill that provides a record $886 billion for national defense in the current fiscal year, which began on October 1. The approved amount is about 3% more than a year earlier, notes Voice of America.

The document calls for a 5.2% pay raise for military personnel, the largest increase in more than 20 years.

The draft was passed with significant support from both Democrats and Republicans, bypassing partisan differences on a number of social issues that could have stalled the process, Reuters reports. The House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill later this week, then it will go to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Among the expenses specified in the bill are purchases of new ships, ammunition, airplanes, as well as measures aimed at containing China in the Indo-Pacific region and assistance to Ukraine.

In particular, it provides for the extension of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative until the end of 2026 and allocates 300 million dollars to Kiev. This is significantly less – compared to the 61 billion dollars previously requested for Kyiv by the White House. This amount has not yet been approved by Congress because of the position of Republican lawmakers, who linked the Biden administration’s request to the adoption of sweeping immigration reforms. In an attempt to secure continued financial and military aid, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the United States earlier this week.

The bill passed by senators on Dec. 13 would create a special inspector general for Ukraine to check that taxpayer funds are being used for their intended purpose – in addition to the oversight mechanism already in place. “We will continue to monitor this, but I want to assure my colleagues that there is no evidence of misuse of weapons provided to Ukraine or any other assistance”, Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in support of the bill.

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