U.S. President Donald Trump signed a $716 billion defense policy bill on Monday.
Congress approved $24.1 billion for shipbuilding including funding for 13 new warships. The funding includes $1.56 billion for three littoral combat ships as well as the fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier, six icebreakers and a Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine. It also includes the potential for building two Virginia-class submarines.
The White House described the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 as “unprecedented support” to help deter adversaries and maintain the Trump Administration’s policy of peace through strength.
In reinforcing ties with Israel, it authorizes the co-development and co-production of missile defense systems. The NDAA also bolsters support for European allies against “Russian aggression” by funding the European Deterrence Initiative.
“In confronting these dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defense,” Trump says addressing his national security policy.
Reuters reports that even though Trump said the bill “is the most significant investment in our military and our war-fighters in modern history,” Barack Obama’s first three defense budgets were larger, when adjusted for inflation, according to Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Some commentators have been critical of the bill for lifting an earlier ban on China’s telecommunications company ZTE after the company allegedly shipped products to Iran and North Korea illegally. The company is also seen as a potential espionage risk.
In a move believed to be targeted at China, the bill strengthens the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States – the body responsible for reviewing proposed foreign investments for potential national security threats.
The NDAA also fulfills the President’s request to give troops a pay raise.