UPDATE 1-U.S. lawmakers reach deal on must-pass annual defense policy bill

UPDATE 1-U.S. lawmakers reach deal on must-pass annual defense policy bill

(Adds details)

WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate Armed Services Committees announced on Monday they had reached an agreement on a $738-billion bill setting policy for the Department of Defense, after months of negotiations.

Aides said they expect the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, to pass before the end of 2019.

The legislation includes $658.4 billion for the Department of Defense and Department of Energy national security programs, $71.5 billion to pay for ongoing foreign wars, known as “Overseas Contingency Operations” funding, and $5.3 billion in emergency funding for repairs of damage from extreme weather and natural disasters.

There were concerns earlier this year that the NDAA might fail for the first time in 58 years over steep divides between the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and Republican-controlled Senate over the policies of President Donald Trump.

Because it is one of the few pieces of major legislation Congress passes every year, the NDAA becomes a vehicle for a range of policy measures as well as setting everything from military pay levels to which ships or aircraft will be modernized, purchased or discontinued.

This year’s bill provides a 3.1% pay raise, and funds new initiatives for addressing competition and threats from Russia and China.

Among other things, it reauthorizes $300 million of funding for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, to include lethal defensive items as well as new authorities for coastal defense cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles.

It also prohibits military-to-military cooperation with Russia. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Leslie Adler)


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