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Trump signs $738B defense bill creating Space Force

By
Sommer Brokaw
President Donald Trump speaks during the $738 billion defense bill signing ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on Friday.  Photo by Al Drago/UPI
President Donald Trump speaks during the $738 billion defense bill signing ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on Friday.  Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 21 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump signed a $738 billion defense bill into law, establishing the Space Force in a compromise with Democrats to grant federal employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

Trump told troops gathered for the signing ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Friday that the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a 3.1 percent troop pay raise, represents history's largest investment in military power. He later boarded Air Force One to fly to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., for the holidays.

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"Our military is now dominant," Trump said. "Together we are protecting our people."

The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, including $635 billion for the base Pentagon budget, $23.1 billion for Energy Department nuclear weapons programs, $71.5 billion for war operations and $5.3 billion in emergency disaster recovery for military bases.

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In a compromise with Democrats to get them to sign off on the Space Force, the defense bill includes 12 weeks of paid leave for 2.1 million civilian federal workers after the birth of a child, adoption, or start of foster care.

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The president's daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, lobbied for the parental and family leave legislation.

Trump promoted the Space Force, which is now the sixth branch of the U.S. military and the first created in seven decades.

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"It's a big moment," Trump said, which will allow the U.S. government to control "the ultimate high ground."

Senate appropriations committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., praised the legislation.

"Finally, we have secured the funds and resources for our military -- our national security," Shelby said in a statement. "This package includes a significant increase in defense funding and the largest pay raise in a decade for our men and women in uniform."

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