US Congress includes $300 million for Ukraine, addresses China in huge defense bill – Community News
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US Congress includes $300 million for Ukraine, addresses China in huge defense bill

US and Ukrainian military servicemen attend the opening ceremony of the military exercise “RAPID TRIDENT-2021” at the Ukrainian International Peacekeeping Security Center near Yavoriv in the Lviv region, Ukraine, September 20, 2021. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/ File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (Reuters) – US lawmakers have included efforts to push back Russia and China in a massive annual defense bill released Tuesday, proposing $300 million for the Ukrainian military and a statement of support for the defense of Taiwan.

But they left behind some measures that had strong support in Congress, including a proposal to impose mandatory sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and a plan to subject women to military service for the first time.

The compromise version of the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorizes $770 billion in military spending, $25 billion more than requested by President Joe Biden and about 5% more than last year’s budget.

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The plan includes a 2.7% pay increase for the troops and more purchases of aircraft and naval vessels to send a signal to Russia and China, as well as strategies to counter geopolitical threats.

The NDAA normally succeeds with strong bipartisan support. It is closely watched by a wide swath of industry and other interests because of its wide scope and because it is one of the few major pieces of legislation that becomes law every year.

This year’s bill was released shortly after US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held virtual talks over Ukraine and other disputes for two hours. read more

The NDAA for 2022 includes $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which provides support to the Ukrainian armed forces, includes $4 billion for the European Defense Initiative and proposes $150 million for Baltic security cooperation.

It contains no provision that would force Biden to impose sanctions on the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring Russian gas directly to Germany. Proponents of the measure say the pipeline would be harmful to European allies. read more

Lawmakers also omitted an amendment that would have banned Americans from buying up Russian government debt.

Biden’s fellow Democrats control both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The White House has said government officials will support sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, but no provisions that could threaten transatlantic ties.

EYES ON CHINA

As for China, the bill includes $7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and a declaration of congressional support for the defense of Taiwan, as well as a ban on the Ministry of Defense from purchasing forced-labor products from China’s Xinjiang region. .

The United States has labeled China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang as genocide, and lawmakers have banned the import of products made by forced labor by Uyghurs. China rejects the charge of genocide as a defamatory claim about the situation in Xinjiang.

The compromise text lacks a proposal to oblige women to register for conscription that was included in previous versions. The proposal met fierce opposition from socially conservative lawmakers who believed it would erode traditional gender roles, threatening to thwart the entire NDAA.

The compromise proposal includes a review of the military justice system to make decisions about whether or not to prosecute cases of rape, assault and some other major crimes at the hands of military commanders.

The change was a partial victory for activists because it did not strip military commanders of the power to prosecute all crimes. It came after advocates led by Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spent years trying to change the system in response to the thousands of cases of military assault, many of which are never prosecuted. read more

Gillibrand said she still wants a separate vote on her full proposal.

To become law for the 61st year in a row, the NDAA must pass the House and Senate and be signed into law by Biden.

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Reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington Editing by William Maclean and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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