Republicans’ version of the National Defense Authorization Act passed today, but it faces little chance of getting past President Obama.
The bill authorizes a $552.1 billion topline for “base” national defense programs, which includes $7.7 billion in mandatory defense spending and $544.4 billion in discretionary spending.
The White House warned on Tuesday that it would veto the bill — for reasons other than just defense. “H.R. 1960 assumes adoption of the House Budget Resolution framework, which would hurt our economy and require draconian cuts to middle-class priorities,” the Office of Management and budget said in the veto threat. “These cuts could result in hundreds of thousands of low-income children losing access to Head Start programs, tens of thousands of children with disabilities losing Federal funding for their special education teachers and aides, thousands of Federal agents who can’t enforce drug laws, combat violent crime or apprehend fugitives, and thousands of scientists without medical grants, which would slow research that could lead to new treatments and cures for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, and hurt America’s economic competitiveness.”
The 315-108 vote was more bipartisan than the White House would have liked, though, with 18 Republicans and 90 Democrats voting against the appropriations bill.
“The Rules Committee provided for a robust debate of NDAA under an open process – making in order a total of 172 amendments, roughly divided between the parties. This action reflects our Majority’s commitment to enabling the House to work its will on behalf of the American people,” said Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
“In these times of fiscal restraint, we must continue to prioritize a strong national defense, and we must make the tough choices within our defense budget to make sure we are doing all that we can within our limited resources to secure this nation,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). “This bill meets that test.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), sponsor of the House bill, noted that “for the 52nd year in a row, the House has come together – Republicans and Democrats- to do our most important work; support the troops, and provide for our common defense.”
“This bill makes vital investments to repair our crumbling readiness, ensures our troops have the support and benefits they deserve and have earned, and institutes reforms designed to stamp out the incidents of sexual assault within the ranks. Every member can be proud of the work they have done here today,” he said.
McKeon also noted “the Senate Armed Services Committee also got their work done this week.”
The upper chamber finished its markup of the Senate version today. “This bipartisan bill provides for our nation’s defense and upholds our obligations to our men and women in uniform and their families,” Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said. “An important part of keeping faith with service members is addressing the plague of sexual assaults in our military, and the bill includes the strongest, most effective approach to combating sexual assault.”
Levin went to battle with other Dems this week over efforts to remove prosecution of sexual assault cases out of the chain of command. That language was eventually stripped from the bill as Levin won.