- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

President Trump signed a $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act into law Tuesday, calling on congressional Democrats to stop their threats to shut down the government and allow his national-security priorities to receive the needed funding.

Pointing to a terrorist attack in New York on Monday, Mr. Trump said the incident that seriously injured only the Islamist bomber “underscore the dangers we face around the globe.” He said Democrats must “drop their shutdown threats and to send clean funding and a clean funding bill to my desk that fully funds our great military.”

“The NDAA increases the size of the American armed forces for the first time in seven years and it provides our military service members with their largest pay increase in eight years,” the president said. “Now Congress must finish the job by eliminating the defense sequestration and passing a clean appropriations bill. I think that’s going to happen. We need our military. It’s got to be perfecto.”

The NDAA sets Pentagon spending levels and policies. The president said the legislation “demonstrates our unwavering commitment to our men and women in uniform.”

“Only when the good are strong, will peace prevail,” Mr. Trump said.

The measure approved by Congress in November authorizes $626.4 billion for the base defense budget and $65.7 billion for a war fund called Overseas Contingency Operations.

It calls for a 2.4-percent pay raise for service members, beefed up missile defense programs, an increase of 20,000 active duty and reserve troops, higher spending on military operations in Afghanistan and military hardware.

Mr. Trump issued a signing statement along with the measure to note sections of the law with which he disagrees, such as restricting the transfer of terrorism suspects to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba.

“I fully intend to keep open that detention facility and to use it for detention operations,” the president wrote, saying restricting his ability to do so would violate the Constitution’s separation of powers.

The president said the overall legislation “will enhance our readiness, expand and modernize our forces and help provide our service members with the tool that they need to fight and to win.”

“And we will fight and win, but hopefully, with this, we won’t have to fight because people will not be wanting to fight with us,” he said.

Mr. Trump said a key component of the law will fund “our continued campaign to obliterate ISIS.”

“As you know, we’ve won in Syria, we’ve won in Iraq, but they spread to other areas and we’re getting them as fast as they spread,” he said. “We’ve had more success with ISIS in the last 8 months than the entire previous administration has had during its entire term.”

Referring to the missile threat posed by North Korea, the president said the NDAA will help the U.S. “create maximum pressure on the vile dictatorship” of Kim Jong-un.

“We’re working very diligently on that . We’ll see how it all goes down,” he said. “It’s a very bad situation, a situation that should have been handled long ago by other administrations.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, called on Democrats to fully fund the military in year-end negotiations facing a Dec. 22 deadline.

“It’s time to actually allocate those funds,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I can only hope that the Democrats who worked with Republicans and with President Trump to authorize funding to keep America safe won’t turn their back on our troops now and block that money from being spent. This is no time for Washington games.”

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