Written by David Zimmermann
What happened? The GOP-led Freedom Caucus and other House Republicans celebrated the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Friday, as the draft includes several conservative-backed amendments that have sparked debate among Democrats. The annual bill, if passed in the Senate and approved by President Joe Biden, would allocate $886 billion in national defense for the next fiscal year.
Controversy: While past defense bills have mainly seen bipartisan support, this one passed by a near-party line vote of 219-210. This is because House Republicans advocated for numerous “culture war” provisions that were not in the original draft. These amendments include:
- Ending the Pentagon’s policy of funding service members’ abortions,
- Banning the display of Pride flags at military bases,
- Restricting the Defense Department from spending money on “woke” initiatives such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) or critical race theory training, transgender medical treatments, and drag shows.
Legislation: The bill also includes a 5.2 percent pay increase for active service members, increased housing allowances, hundreds of millions of dollars for “quality of life” improvements, and more money to confront China’s rising influence in the Pacific. It also authorized an extra $300 million to be sent to Ukraine, provisions Republicans have largely opposed but were unable to eliminate from the draft.
What’s next? After narrowly passing the House, the NDAA’s controversial amendments will likely have a more difficult time getting approval in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority of 51-49. The upper chamber is set to start debating the bill today.