The House on Friday voted to pass a broad defense policy bill following a contentious debate and adoption of controversial amendments that touched on social issues.
Amendments proposed by conservative hardliners related to abortion policy and transgender health care access and diversity and inclusion programs have angered Democrats and led to pushback from some moderate Republicans — and could set up a clash with the now Democratic-controlled Senate. .
The bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, sets the policy agenda and authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and is considered critical, requiring legislation to pass.
It also authorizes $886 billion for national defense programs and a 5.2% pay raise for service members. House Armed Services Committee Fact Sheet. The bill includes provisions to counter China’s influence, improve overall military readiness and missile defense capabilities, and promote technological innovation.
The move to allow the controversial amendment vote marked a major concession by GOP leaders to conservative hardliners — and could be a preview of legislative battles to come, including more efforts to fund the government.
The fight to pass the defense bill out of the House again showed the power of conservative hardliners in the narrow GOP majority, and conservatives cheered the bill’s passage.
While national security bills usually pass with broad bipartisan support, the bill passed on a party-line vote of 219 to 210. Four Democrats voted across the aisle along with Republicans and four GOP members voted against the bill.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, has backed the strategy of allowing controversial amendments proposed by the right wing, telling CNN’s Manu Raju that members should “have a voice on what the bill actually looks like. It does not predetermine what the bill will contain.
In a scathing statement, three House Democratic leaders attacked Republicans for pushing the defense bill to the right.
The Senate is expected to consider its own version of the NDAA next week — with an early procedural vote to take up the bill on Tuesday. The House-passed bill must be reconciled with whatever the Senate passes.
Four Republican “no” votes on the House-passed bill: Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Eli Crane of Arizona and Tom Massey of Kentucky.
Four Democratic “yes” votes: Representatives from Maine. Jared Golden, Donald Davis of North Carolina, Gabriel Vasquez of New Mexico and Mary Klusenkamp Perez of Washington.
The House voted until nearly midnight Thursday night, including the adoption of a controversial provision on diversity, equity and inclusion programs and employees at the Defense Department, a tough pill to swallow for Democrats and a victory for conservative hardliners.
Representative Ralph Norman, a Republican from South Carolina, offered a measure that would eliminate all Pentagon DEI programs and personnel. Dramatically the amendment initially failed 216-216, but was reconsidered and passed 214-213.
Another high-profile amendment passed by the House Thursday evening would prohibit the secretary of defense from paying or reimbursing expenses related to abortion services.
Many Democrats made it clear ahead of the vote that they were unlikely to support final passage if the amendment were included as part of the defense bill.
The Pentagon’s abortion policy has drawn serious attention recently, with GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville countered that by preventing military appointments and confirmations from moving quickly through the chamber.
The House also passed an amendment that would block a health care plan for service members that covers hormone treatments and gender confirmation surgeries for transgender people.
Colorado Conservative Rep. Lauren Bobert’s amendment prohibits military schools from purchasing or possessing “obscene and radical sexist books” in their libraries.
In a landslide vote, the House rejected an amendment banning the sale or transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine. GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia offered the amendment, which failed 147-276.
The NDAA, which has been passed by Congress every year for the past six decades, now faces an uncertain future as the House and Senate clash over competing priorities for the bill.
Greene told CNN last night that he would vote against the defense bill supporting the war in Ukraine, calling it his “red line.” But he voted for the massive bill Friday morning.
McCarthy offered him a seat on a House-Senate conference committee to negotiate a bicameral compromise, the hard-right Georgia Republican told CNN. The Green House is not on the Armed Services Committee, so the appointment is unusual.
The move provides a unique window into the frenzied horse-trading that took shape behind the scenes to push the bill by the speaker’s narrow margins — and sets the stage for things to come as both chambers face an uphill battle in the effort. To fix a version of the bill that would pass both.
Asked by CNN if he voted for the bill because of his nomination, Green said, “This week I have the opportunity to do what I continue to do. And I want this opportunity. I think this is an important opportunity for me to represent people across the United States who don’t want their tax dollars on the NDAA to fund a foreign war.
This story has been updated with additional updates.