Conservative Policy Push Looming over Must-Pass Defense Spending Bill

July 13, 2023

A string of policy amendments by far-right members of Congress are threatening the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) needed to fund the military.

The bill passed its first procedural hurdle in the House on Wednesday, but proposed amendments that aim to eliminate Pentagon policies on abortion, LGBTQ or racial identity have led to an impasse, raising questions about whether the bill will pass this week as planned. 

Some far-right Republicans are also pushing to add severe restrictions on U.S. military support for Ukraine as it fights its war against Russia.

House members voted 217-207 along party lines to move the bill forward—while considering a batch of nearly 300 amendments.

However, most of the amendments are uncontroversial, and they reportedly buy House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) time to reach a deal on the more partisan amendments with the far-right wing of his party. 

Adding to McCarthy’s challenge is that Democrats’ votes will likely be needed to pass the final bill because many conservatives often oppose the NDAA no matter which party is in power.

Even so, some top Republicans are expressing confidence in the defense bill’s chances. House Armed Services Chair Mike Rogers (R-AL) said Tuesday, “Everything’s gonna work out.”

Pointing to his committee’s 58-1 vote to approve the bill during its June markup (only Democrat Ro Khanna of California voted against it), Rogers called the legislation “the definition of a bipartisan bill.”

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