Connect with us

News

House agrees with $839 billion defense bill

The National Defense Authorization Act, passed by the House, is $37 billion above the president’s requested budget.

Published

on

Thursday’s vote in the House of Representatives marks the second year in a row that Democrats and Republicans have agreed to significantly increase the Pentagon’s spending plan.

329-101 voted for the $839 billion National Defense Authorization Act, an increase of $37 billion over what the White House sought.

Additionally, the bill criticizes several of Vice President Biden’s national security initiatives. A nuclear cruise missile was kept in place, F-16 sales to Turkey were scuppered, and the Pentagon’s ability to retire planes and ships was restricted.

Bipartisanship was on display in the passage of legislation authorizing the Pentagon’s budget and establishing overarching military policy, which was signed into law by 180 Democrats and 149 Republicans.

Advertisement

House Armed Services Committee Republican Chairman Mike Rogers of Alabama called it “the definition of a bipartisan bill.”

Following a bipartisan vote by the House Armed Services Committee to increase the bill’s price tag by $37 billion, it includes billions for more aircraft and ships than the Pentagon requested. Biden’s request — a $30 billion increase over the current year — was seen by Republicans and a significant number of Democrats as being insufficient to keep up with runaway inflation and meet challenges posed by China and Russia.

House and Senate leaders will have to come to an agreement on the final Pentagon budget in order to pass a defense bill. In addition, a corresponding increase in government spending must be approved by the legislature.

This week, lawmakers fought over the Pentagon’s budget. Reps. Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Mark Pocan (Wis.) pushed for a reversion of the bill to Biden’s original $802 billion request, but most Democrats supported the effort. The House rejected it.

Advertisement

During a June committee markup, House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) unsuccessfully fought against an increase in the topline budget. According to him, Vice President Joe Biden’s proposed $37 billion budget cut is sufficient to meet the military’s needs.

“As long as the president’s budget is adhered to, “it’s not like we aren’t spending money.” That, in my opinion, should be the number we use from now on.”

To make matters worse for Biden’s F-16 sales to Turkey, Democrats in the House approved an amendment that would impose additional restrictions on such sales, citing concerns about Turkey’s purchase of Russian weapons, territorial incursions into neighboring countries, and human rights abuses.

The proposal was approved by a vote of 244 to 179, with 184 Democrats voting in favor of it. As a result of the new law, Vice President Joe Biden will be required to certify that the sale is critical to the security of the United States.

Advertisement

Funding for the development of a sea-launched nuclear cruise missile, which the White House had hoped to kill, was included in the bill. Legislators, on the other hand, put safeguards on the weapon by requiring an examination of alternatives and the declassification of the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review before funding can be released.

In order to keep the bill’s bipartisan support intact, the bill’s most contentious issues were kept off the table, including a progressive-led effort to expand military personnel’s access to abortions.

Democrats managed to get some of their agenda items passed, however.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s (D-DC) proposal to give the mayor of the District of Columbia the same control over the National Guard as the governors of states was narrowly approved by the House. Currently, the president controls the city’s National Guard powers. after being defeated in the Armed Services Committee.

Advertisement

Additionally, the Democratic Party voted to repeal the 2002 Iraq War authorization, which was a post-9/11 presidential power that authorized military force with the approval of Congress following the 9/11 attacks. Despite Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claiming that the move was a top priority, similar proposals have already passed the House.

The bill also contained provisions that had nothing to do with defense. As a result of Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-Colo.) efforts, banking access for marijuana businesses was granted. Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and others proposed a bipartisan plan to eliminate the federal disparity in sentencing for powder and crack cocaine drug crimes.

More planes and ships were proposed for purchase and the military was prevented from retiring older weapons as a cost-saving measure due to an increased budget topline.

An additional Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and two Constellation-class frigates, as well as an additional fleet oiler and two expeditionary medical ships are included in the bill.

Advertisement

Also, the Navy must keep five of the nine littoral combat ships it had planned to retire. Legislators rebuffed a request from Smith to allow the Navy to demolish all nine of its ships.

The bill also provides for 64 F-35 fighter jets, three more than the Pentagon requested for each of the military branches. The Navy will get three more F-35C carrier-based jets after lawmakers approved $354 million in funding.

A total of $1 billion has been set aside for the Pentagon to arm Ukraine in the face of Russia’s onslaught in the eastern Donbass region.

As part of this legislation, military service academy students must fulfill their service obligations before they can participate in professional sports.

Advertisement

In addition, the bill authorizes a 4.6% pay increase for military personnel. For federal contractors, Biden’s $15-an-hour executive order will be codified in this bill.

A vote on the Senate’s own defense bill has yet to take place.

senator from Rhode Island who chairs the senate armed services committee, says he expects his bill to be introduced in the Senate in September.

Advertisement
Advertisement