WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump signed a $738 billion defense bill into law Friday that hinged in part on two seemingly disparate issues: Paid parental leave and the president's treasured new "Space Force."
The National Defense Authorization Act, which includes pay raises for troops, represents history's largest investment in military power, Trump told troops gathered for a signing ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland.
"Our military is now dominant," Trump said. "Together we are protecting our people."
Trump signed the bill before boarding Air Force One for a flight to his end-of-the-year stay at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
The legislation passed Congress after a deal that involved family and parental leave and the Space Force.
Congressional Democrats signed off on money for Space Force as Republicans agreed to demands on parental and family leave. The bill provides 12 weeks of paid leave for 2.1 million civilian federal workers after the birth of a child, adoption, or start of foster care.
Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, lobbied on behalf of the parental and family leave legislation.
Standard defense funding in the bill will keep the U.S. military the strongest in the world, Trump told troops, and "there's no country that comes even close."
As he often does, Trump promoted the new Space Force, now the sixth branch of the U.S. military and the first created in seven decades.
"It's a big moment," he said, and will enable the U.S. government to control "the ultimate high ground."
During a political rally Wednesday in Battle Creek, Mich., Trump told supporters that "I will be able to tell my kids someday, and everybody else, 'See that Space Force? That was my baby.'"
On Dec. 11, as the bill made its way through Congress, Trump said "all of our priorities have made it" into the defense bill. "Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force!" Trump tweeted, pledging to sign it immediately.
The bill includes a 3.1% pay raise for Pentagon personnel, the largest in more than a decade.
"America's armed forces are more powerful than ever," Trump said, "and growing even stronger."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump signs defense bill to create Space Force, expand leave