Senate Sends Mammoth $738BN Defense Bill To Trump's Desk, Creating Space Force

The U.S. Senate has joined the House of Representatives in passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, and it will now go to the White House where President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

The Senate passed the massive $738 billion defense spending bill on Tuesday, which as we previously noted when it cleared the House last week, also officially establishes the president's much sought after 'Space Force' as a sixth branch of the military.

A second package of bills is expected to also go speedily through both bodies of Congress before the Senate leaves for the holiday, with the White House indicating Trump will sign them both into law.

File image of the NDAA 2018 signing ceremony, via the AP.

The Senate vote was 86-8 in favor of the mammoth NDAA, which passed after a significant compromise, as The Hill summarizes:

The $738 billion bill — which authorizes spending and lays out policy guidelines for the Pentagon — includes a high-profile deal that grants federal employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave in exchange for creating Trump’s "Space Force."

The bloated budget did receive backlash from senate fiscal conservatives, however. The Hill continues:

But the trade off for paid parental leave — and the large tab — earned the defense policy bill backlash from fiscal conservatives in the Senate. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued that the bill included “bad compromises” that had “nothing to do with the national defense.” 

Though the DoD initially requested $72 million for the Space Force in 2020, and the NDAA authorized that, the spending bill actually only allocates $40 million.

The administration previously said it expects the newly established Space Force to cost $8 billion over the next 5 years, so clearly the NDAA funding appears severely "limited" in that regard. 

It's part of a broader $1.4 trillion spending plan approved by the House also on Tuesday that appropriates approximately the same $738 billion spending for defense. 

Last week Trump let it be known he plans to sign the legislation "immediately" upon it coming across his desk.

The president has also tweeted last week: “Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA: Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force! Congress – don’t delay this anymore!”