The House of Representatives passed a wide-ranging $768 billion defense bill on Thursday despite strong opposition from the right-wing members of the Republican party.
The House voted 316-113 in favor of the bill, which authorizes spending levels and sets Pentagon policy. The bill also includes means that women can be drafted into the military, and establishes a 12-member bipartisan commission to review the entirety of the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
The House Freedom Caucus party had called on the GOP to reject the bill for the inclusion of women in the draft.
In the vote, 181 Democrats teamed up with 135 Republicans to pass the bill, which also dealt a blow to President Joe Biden as the reps boosted the Pentagon’s budget to $740 billion, $25 billion more than Biden had requested.
‘Everybody here will find something that they do not like,’ House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington said on the House floor. ‘But it is also the nature of the legislative process, in this case, that we have produced a product that everybody in this House can be proud of.’
House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith, pictured on September 1, led the debate as the House passed a $768 billion defense spending bill on September 24
The bill includes the creation of a bipartisan commission to review the 20-year war in Afghanistan. U.S. Marines are pictured in Kabul on August 21, ten days before withdrawing
The commission will also focus on the US’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and demand details on current evacuation plans. Pictured, one of the evacuation flights on August 23
The $768 billion defense bill would:
- Give the Pentagon a $740 million budget for the spending year
- Allow women to be included in the military draft and Selective Service System
- Create a 12-member bipartisan commission to fully review the 20-year war in Afghanistan and the US’s future plans in the Middle Eastern nation
- Authorize $28.4 billion for 13 new Navy ships, including three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and two Virginia-class attack submarines
- Authorize the purchase of 85 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters, matching the Pentagon’s budget request
- Procure 24 Boeing F-15EX jets for the Air Force, double the number requested by the Pentagon
- Prohibit private funding for cross-state National Guard deployment except for emergency or disaster relief efforts
- Require generals and admirals to be out of the military for 10 years before they can serve as defense secretary, up from the current seven-year cooling off period
- Provide a 2.7 percent troop pay raise
Rep. Mike Rogers, the top Armed Services Republican from Alabama, added that the defense bill was pivotal to aiding the US keep up with its foreign rivals.
He said, the bill is ‘laser-focused on preparing our military to prevail in a conflict with China.’
The bill garnered support over the inclusion of a bipartisan 12-member commission that would review the Afghanistan war, including the chaotic withdrawal of US troops and citizens since August, Politico reported.
The commission, proposed by Rep. Liz Chenery, of Wyoming, would also require the administration to submit plans on how it will evacuate all willing US citizens and Afghan partners and conduct its counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.
The commission will also grill the Biden administration on the threats posed by Al Qaeda and ISIS-K now that the Taliban has taken over.
Lawmakers had said Biden’s original budget plan was insufficient and rejected efforts by Reps. Barbara Lee, of California, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, to stick with Biden’s plan in a 286-142 vote.
On the House floor, Ocasio-Cortez said, ‘We have increased our military spending year after year, senselessly and needlessly, and now again, during a time when we have ended a almost two decade war. there is no reason to be increasing our military spending and defense budget.’
The US spent about $825 billion in the war in Afghanistan, which killed about 3,500 US soldiers.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, right, had supported Joe Biden’s plan to cut the spending bill by $25 billion, but the house overwhelmingly voted against it
The bill also authorizes more spending for military crafts, like the F-35 fighters
The bill also requires women to register for a potential military draft and made similar changes to the Selective Service System.
Though there hasn’t been a military draft in more than four decades, men are still require to register when they turn 18, and some elected officials had been fighting to include women in the process.
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, of Pennsylvania, had championed the inclusion of women in the Selective Service, calling their exclusion ‘unconstitutional’ for discriminating based on sex.
House Freedom Caucus member Chip Roy, a Republican from Texas, said in a news conference on Wednesday that Republicans should oppose the measure.
‘Right now if you are voting for the NDAA, you’re voting to draft our daughters,’ Roy said. ‘There is no other position you can take.’
Fellow Republican Rep. Mary Miller, of Illinois, added, ‘The Democrats and, sadly, some Republicans want to draft your daughters. This is wrong, and it’s immoral, and they are doing it anyway.’
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan has pushed for the inclusion of women in the Selective Service System