US President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged Congress to pass a defense bill containing a provision restricting the drawdown of American troops in South Korea.
On Monday, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees agreed on the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which authorizes funding for the Department of Defense.
According to the accompanying conference report, the new bill restricts the use of funds for removing troops from South Korea, an issue that has drawn intense scrutiny amid contentious cost-sharing negotiations between Seoul and Washington.
“Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA,” Trump tweeted, citing a pay raise for troops, paid parental leave and border security, among other things.
“Congress — don’t delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!” he said.
The conference report states that no funds may be used to reduce the number of troops below the current level of 28,500 unless the US defense secretary certifies that it is in the US national security interest and that allies, including South Korea and Japan, have been appropriately consulted.
This year’s NDAA restricted any drawdown of troops below 22,000.
Later Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the defense bill, paving the way for a Senate vote and Trump’s signing before it is enacted into law.