858 billion dollars for defence with NATO, the war in Ukraine and tensions in the Indo-Pacific as important issues

United States: Senate approves largest military budget in US history

photo_camera REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN - U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

The US Senate passed the defence budget bill for 2023, making it the largest in US history with an $858 billion appropriation.

The military budget has increased by 45 billion dollars compared to what was originally planned by Joe Biden's government after the House of Representatives had given the green light on 8 December to the National Defence Authorisation Act, which was ratified by the Senate on Thursday 16 December thanks to 83 votes in favour as opposed to 11 against. The bill will now be sent to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law.

Support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the effort to continue to support Ukraine in the war against Russia and sustaining Taiwan in the face of the threat from China are the main challenges at the centre of the US military effort and a significant part of this budget is related to these issues. The new spending package is 10% higher than the previous one and allocates $816 billion to the Defence Department itself and just over $30 billion to national security programmes.  


This reaffirms that the commitment to NATO is "ironclad" and emphasises the importance of maintaining a unified response to Russia's "unjust" war in Ukraine and other common security challenges, as noted by the US Congress.  

On the other hand, the salaries of US soldiers will be increased by 4.6% and part of the money allocated will also be used to purchase military equipment such as weapons, ships and fighter planes, according to the bill.  

The budget allocated to defence is of vital importance for the world's superpower, as it could not be otherwise, and even more so in the current situation of global instability and struggle for world leadership in the face of emerging nations that are questioning the unipolar world that had been established in recent decades, with the United States as the only world leader since the fall of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and communism. Now, nations such as the People's Republic of China, Russia and India are demanding a more prominent role in global decision-making. Other important Middle Eastern nations, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have also acquired a prominent position in the international arena and are demanding a greater presence in establishing or settling important issues and are less dependent on US directives. This was evident, for example, in the question of the level of oil production, which was lowered after the last decision taken by OPEC+, comprising the world's main oil producers plus partner countries such as Russia, which was criticised by the West. Despite US pressure, the decision taken within the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries was respected and not bowed to. 


The defence budget bill is of the utmost importance in the US giant and an agreement has been reached after several months of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats both in the Senate and previously in the House of Representatives.  

This year's agreement, according to the text of the bill, focuses on the country's "vital" defence priorities, including "strategic competition with China and Russia, disruptive technologies such as hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, and the modernisation of aviation, ships and defence vehicles". Thus, the bill allocates more money for the development of hypersonic weapons and gives the US State Department around $2 billion in foreign military assistance each year until 2027. This military effort involves foreign aid to Ukraine to confront Russia and assistance to Taiwan to counter the Chinese threat. 


The bill provides Ukraine with at least $800 million in additional security assistance next year and includes granting military aid and arms sales to Taiwan worth $10 billion over five years, according to Bloomberg. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez confirmed that this will "greatly enhance the US defence partnership with Taiwan".

President Joe Biden himself pledged to defend Taiwan militarily if China tries to annex it by force, which is what is feared on the Taiwanese island, especially in the wake of China's recent military manoeuvres in the Taiwanese environment.


In fact, Taiwan is by far the geographical area most mentioned in the bill, with 438 mentions, more than Russia, with 237, and Ukraine, with 159. This shows the importance that the United States now attaches to the Indo-Pacific in order to confront the spread of Chinese influence.  

Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.