WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed into law a sweeping defense policy 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.
But there’s a catch. The $700 billion budget won’t become reality until lawmakers agree to roll back a 2011 law that set strict limits on federal spending, including by the Defense Department — and they haven’t yet.
The 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 eliminate the cap on defense spending.
"I think it’s going to happen," said the president, joined by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and other military leaders. "We need our military. It’s got to be perfecto."
He urged Democrats in Congress to quit threatening to shut down the government and "send clean funding and a clean funding bill to my desk that fully funds our great military. Protecting our country should always be a bipartisan issue, just like today’s legislation."
Temporary government funding is set to run out on Dec. 22, the deadline for lawmakers to send the White House a broader government funding bill or risk a partial government shutdown.
Many Republicans favor easing the caps for defense spending only. Democrats also want increases in other government spending.
Trump released a lengthy statement after signing the bill in which he complained that multiple provisions amounted to congressional overreach that he argued infringed upon his executive authority.
The 2018 defense bill allots about $634 billion for core Pentagon operations and nearly $66 billion for wartime missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. The funding boost pays for more troops, jet fighters, ships and other weapons. It also grants troops a 2.4 percent pay raise, slightly higher than what the Pentagon sought.