The House on Thursday passed a sweeping $776 billion defense budget in 316-113, authorizing roughly $24 billion more in spending than the Biden Administration’s request.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2022 includes authorization for $250 million to conduct counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, which comes just weeks after President Biden came under fire for his handling of the troop withdrawal in the country.
The legislation includes language to approve a 2.7 percent pay increase for troops, provide an increase to parental leave and bolster aid to military families with special needs children.
The bill also reforms policies on sexual assualt in the military, creating an Office of the Special Victim Prosecutor, criminalizes sexual harassment and violent extremism, and establishes an Office of Countering Extremism tasked with providing training and education about extremist activities.
Under the legislation, the Department of Defense would be authorized to spend $115 million for research and treatment into Havana syndrome, an enigmatic ailment linked to suspected radiation attacks that have targeted American diplomats.
Lawmakers proposed more than 400 amendments to the legislation, having passed Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-Colo.) amendment to ban federal banking regulators from penalizing banks that service legal cannabis businesses.
House progressives unsuccessfully attempted to amend the legislation to lower defense spending ahead of the bill’s final passage, with some Democrats opting not to support the measure due to its price tag.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said she could not vote for the measure “in good conscience” despite praising multiple aspects of the bill including its reforms to sexual assault policy and strides to “increase the transparency and accountability of senior leaders in the Executive Branch.”
“However, even with these important provisions, I could not vote for legislation that continues to promote bloated and wasteful spending in the Pentagon’s budget while millions of Americans are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said in a statement.
Republicans slammed the Democrats push to cut military funding.
“Today was an actual good day on Capitol Hill where we were able to not only defeat Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s attempt to cut defense spending for about military, but also we were able to successfully push back on President Biden’s attempts to cut National Security funding,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) told The Post.
While the legislation received broad support from both parties, conservatives blasted the measure for its language requiring women to register for the draft.
“I want to be 100 percent clear: Any Republican who votes for this NDAA is voting to force our daughters to register for the draft,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told The Post in a statement.
The Senate Armed Services Committee advanced its version of the bill in July.