US President Donald Trump signed into law a sweeping defense bill that authorizes a $700 billion budget for the military, including additional spending on missile defense programs to counter North Korea’s growing nuclear weapons threat, Chicago Tribune reported.
The report said that the $700 billion budget won’t become reality until lawmakers agree to roll back a 2011 law that sets strict limits on federal spending, including by the Defense Department. The current law caps 2018 defense spending at $549 billion.
Before he signed the bill at the White House, Trump called on Congress to “finish the job” and end the cap on defense spending.
“I think it’s going to happen,” said Trump, joined by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and other senior military leaders. “We need our military. It’s got to be perfecto.”
The 2018 defense bill allots about $634 billion for core Pentagon operations. Nearly $66 billion will be spent on wartime missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.
The funding boost is to pay for more troops, jet fighters, ships and other weapons needed to halt any erosion of the military’s combat readiness, according to the bill’s backers. It also grants troops a 2.4 percent pay raise, slightly higher than what the Pentagon sought.
Trump’s 2018 request sought $603 billion for basic functions and $65 billion for overseas missions.
The defense legislation includes $12.3 billion for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency and orders a more rapid buildup of the nation’s missile defense capabilities “as we continue our campaign to create maximum pressure on the vile dictatorship in North Korea,” Trump said.
“We’re working very diligently on that by building up forces,” Trump said.