WASHINGTON-- President Bush signed the long-delayed and sometimes-contentious fiscal 2008 National Defense Authorization Act into law today.
The Senate passed a $696 billion 2008 defense authorization bill Jan. 22. It includes a 3.5 percent military pay raise and provisions to improve health care and benefits for wounded troops and veterans.
“Today, I have signed into law H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008,” Bush said in a statement released by the White House. “The act authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, for military construction, and for national security-related energy programs.”
The fiscal 2008 defense budget has been laden with challenges, from Congress’ inclusion of non-defense-related earmarks to its insertion of controversial language regarding Iraq. Bush announced Dec. 28 that he wouldn’t sign the bill until it was revised.
Instead, the president signed an executive order authorizing a 3 percent military pay raise. The amount was 0.5 percent lower than the 3.5 percent rate provided for in the authorization act, but took effect Jan. 1.
All pays and incentives included in the authorization act will be retroactive to Jan. 1, a defense official said.
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino told reporters today Bush was gratified that Congress moved forward with the budget bill.
“He appreciates the cooperation of both House and Senate leaders to quickly address the concerns raised by the president over the Christmas holiday,” she said at the White House. “Congress passed the legislation swiftly, and that is a very good thing for our troops and the Iraqi people.”
The bill became law just a week before the next budget cycle begins as Bush sends his fiscal 2009 request to Capitol Hill. That budget proposal, along with a requested $70 billion in emergency war spending, is expected to be delivered to Congress Feb. 4.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters today the president plans to ask for $70 billion to fund the global war on terror, including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for the first months of fiscal 2009.
Bush Signs Fiscal 2008 Defense Budget Legislation Into Law