US House passes Defense bill, boosts cooperation with India
The bill contains a provision proposing advanced defense cooperation with India.
Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera introduced the India-specific amendment which was passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2018 through a voice vote with overwhelming bipartisan support.
NDAA-2018 must be cleared by Senate, Trump to become law
The NDAA-2018 has been passed by the House of Representatives. Before it becomes law, the bill must now be passed by the Senate and sent to White House for President Donald Trump to sign into law.
What the bill means for India
The India-specific amendment requires the US Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State to develop a strategy to boost Indo-US defense cooperation within 180 days.
It also asks the State Department and Department of Defense to develop a strategy addressing common Indo-US security challenges and what role America's partners and allies can play in this relationship.
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Bill asks government to define bilateral cooperation initiative
It asks them to evaluate how communications interoperability and the basic exchange and cooperation agreement for geospatial cooperation, can be advanced.
Last year's NDAA-2017 designated India as a major US defense partner, bringing it at par with America's closest partners.
Indian-American Congressman hails India-specific amendment's passage
Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, who introduced the India-specific amendment, hailed its passage.
He said it's "vitally important" for America, the world oldest democracy and India, the world's largest democracy, "to develop a strategy that advances defense cooperation."
"Cooperation between the US and India enhances our own defense and our ability to meet the evolving security challenges of the 21st century," he added.
Defense bill proposes tighter conditions on funding to Pakistan
The House bill has cleared three amendments imposing more stringent conditions for the reimbursement of US defense funding to Pakistan.
It includes a measure that Pakistan must make satisfactory progress in counter-terrorism.
It requires the US defense secretary to certify that Pakistan has conducted military operations against the Haqqani Network based in North Waziristan.
The Haqqani Network is behind attacks on Afghanistan.
Defense bill exceeds Trump's $603bn budget request
The House NDAA-2018 increases defense spending from last year's $619 billion to $696 billion, in line with Trump's desire for a bigger, stronger military.
The bill however, exceeds the president's $603 billion defense budget request. It also considerably exceeds a longstanding cap on national defense spending.
The bill increases spending on missile defense by 25% and boosts salaries of troops by 2.4%.
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