For more than 60 years, Congress has passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act with bipartisan support.
"This is a bipartisan defense bill that addresses the long term challenges posed by China and Russia and other potential adversaries. It provides a historic pay rate for our military members," said Sen. Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
This year's bill also includes some benefits aimed at improving the quality of life for service members and their families. To start, there's a 5.2% pay raise for military members and the Defense Department's civilian workers. That's the biggest pay raise in over two decades.
Another key focus is mental health care. The bill will allow licensed counselors to provide nonmedical services regardless of their location, effectively making it possible for service members to keep the same mental health provider even if they're transferred to a new state.
And the bill aims to help family members too. This year's NDAA expands the ability for spouses to be reimbursed for business costs or relicensing when they start up in a new city.
Lawmakers hope to get the final version of the NDAA approved before going home for the holiday break.
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