House passes $840B national defense bill in 329-101 bipartisan vote

In an uncharacteristically bipartisan manner, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act on Thursday by a vote of 329-101, as Roll Call reports, and in doing so, nixed a number of President Joe Biden’s national security priorities.

This time around, the measure, which has been approved annually for the past 61 years, authorizes $840.2 billion in spending for national defense, an amount that, according to Politico, represents $37 billion more in funding than the administration sought.

Despite the larger monetary appropriation, the bill in its final form diverged from Biden’s preferences in some noteworthy ways, such as keeping a nuclear cruise missile development program the administration hoped to scuttle, capping the ability of the Pentagon to retire ships and aircraft, and hindering planned sales of F-16s to Turkey.

According to the terms of the measure, Biden’s wish to maintain a military of approximately 2.1 million service members will continue to be supported, with those individuals receiving a 4.6% pay increase. Lower-earning military personnel and civilian employees will also be eligible for a 2.4% “inflation bonus” as well, as a result of the bill.

A number of provisions regarding American support for Ukraine in the ongoing war with Russia were also included in the bill, such as one requiring heightened efforts to prevent U.S.-made weapons sent to that country from falling into the hands of extremists.

In the aftermath of the bill’s passage, House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith (D-WA) said, “As the legislative process continues, I thank my House colleagues for their thoughtful contributions and support of this year’s NDAA. There’s a lot to be proud of in this bill, and the stakes for our country’s national security could not be higher.”

Rep. Mike Rogers, ranking Republican member of the Armed Services Committee heralded the process through which agreement was reached, saying, “It is the definition of a bipartisan bill.”

Indeed, as Politico noted, especially controversial proposals that could have torn the bipartisan coalition asunder – such as one that would have expanded service members’ access to abortions at military-run medical facilities – were prevented from reaching the floor.

Now, the process will move to the Senate, where a defense bill compromise will have to be achieved, and according to Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed (D-RI), his preferred iteration of the measure is unlikely to reach the floor until September, and what happens from there, only time will tell.