Senate Passes Crucial Military Spending Bill in Bipartisan Vote amid Looming Clash in House

July 28, 2023

The Senate late Thursday passed along a bipartisan vote of 86-11 the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill needed to fund the military.

The Senate’s version of the bill would allocate $886 billion for national defense over the next year, including a 5.2% pay raise to service members as well as civilian employees. It also includes investments in hypersonic missile and drone technology as well as measures to improve competition with China.

The proposed legislation is next headed toward a clash in the House, which passed its own version of the bill on July 14. That happened despite objections from far-right House Republicans who have not only pushed to add severe restrictions on U.S. military support for Ukraine, but also want to eliminate Pentagon policies on abortion, LGBTQ or racial identity. Democrats have insisted that they would never support those measures.

The Senate’s bill, passed Thursday evening just before Congress adjourned for August recess, makes no reference to abortion or transgender services. However, it does offer a few nods to Republicans’ frequent complaint that the Pentagon has become “woke” due to liberal policies. For example, it bars the Defense Department from requiring that people list their preferred pronouns on official correspondence. It also imposes salary caps and hiring freeze on positions dedicated solely to promoting equity and inclusion.

Even so, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said there is a “glaring contrast” between the two chambers’ defense bills, asserting that the Senate had no “animus or acrimony” in contrast to the House’s partisan battles.

The House and Senate will now have to write a final bill based on each chamber’s version before it can be signed off on by President Biden and continue the military’s funding, as the legislation has annually since 1961.

Sen. Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said talks with the House would start “very soon.” He expressed confidence that Congress will be able to pass the final needed legislation.

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