The FY24 National Defense Authorization Act is finally moving towards passage. A compromise version was approved by House and Senate negotiators late on Dec. 6 and breezed through a procedural vote, 82-15, in the Senate on Dec. 7. A few of the provisions in the 3,000-page bill, highlighted in news reports, are as follows:
• The bill prohibits information sharing with Russia under the New START treaty, reports TASS, while also containing a waiver if it is deemed “in the national security interest of the United States,” or if Russia also provides the U.S. with similar information. TASS notes that the White House was opposed to this measure.
• The bill takes major steps towards full implementation of the AUKUS deal to provide Australia with a nuclear attack submarine capability. As reported by Defense News, the bill includes all four authorizations needed to implement the AUKUS agreement, through which the U.S. and Britain will help Australia develop its own nuclear-powered submarine fleet in the decades ahead, starting with the transfer of at least three Virginia-class submarines in the 2030s.
Separately, the bill also includes provisions to “institutionalize” the nuclear armed cruise missile that the Trump Nuclear Posture Review mandated for the U.S. Navy back in 2018. The Biden Administration has professed opposition to it, but Congress has kept it alive as a research and development program. Now it seems intent on moving forward by providing the infrastructure to make Virginia-class submarines nuclear-capable at some point down the road.
• The bill includes a provision that would require the Defense Department to “establish a comprehensive training, advising and institutional capacity building program for the military forces of Taiwan.”
• It authorizes $8 million to establish the lead inspector general for Operation Atlantic Resolve, the U.S. military deployment to Europe that began in 2014, and authorizes $300 million in both FY24 and FY25 to continue arming Kiev through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, even though this is only a small fraction of the amount the Biden administration has deemed necessary to continue warding off Russia’s invasion.
• It codifies into law an existing authority allowing U.S. special operations units to arm irregular forces for warfare against rivals like China and Russia with an eye on expanding these activities.
• It adds Kosovo to the list of Eastern European countries eligible for U.S. military training amid heightened tensions with neighboring Serbia.