The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $768 billion military budget on Tuesday, Dec. 7, with overwhelming bipartisan support. Officially named the National Defense Authorization Act, the compromise bill passed 363-70, with 169 Democrats joining 194 Republicans in approving the 2,000 page legislation.
The bill – which increases military spending at a historic rate – adds $25 billion to the Pentagon’s budget, high above what President Joe Biden requested. It will now head to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.
“Providing the authorities and resources our service members need to defend our nation and defeat our adversaries is the greatest responsibility we have here in Congress,” said Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, who is the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. “We accomplish that responsibility with the bill before us today.”
However, there is a minority of lawmakers who did not share Rogers’ sentiment. Rep. Anthony Brown of Maryland and Rep. Jamaal Bowen of New York are some of them.
“$770 Billion to the Pentagon just easily passed the house 363-70. I voted No,” Bowman tweeted Tuesday. “It is astounding how quickly Congress moves weapons but we can’t ensure housing, care, and justice for our veterans, nor invest in robust jobs programs for districts like mine.”
While successful overall, the vote came after weeks of negotiations and guts to several provisions that Democrats included in the initial version of the bill, Politico reported. Among the provisions to either be whittled down or gutted altogether is failure to establish a Pentagon office to counter racism and extremism.
It was a provision Brown introduced and, at its exclusion, caused him to withdraw support.
“Supporting our troops does not require us to pass the NDAA simply because it includes important provisions such as an annual pay raise, it must also protect the Black men and women who are disproportionately the target of extremism and a biased military justice system,” Brown said in a statement.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the then-proposed increase in spending in November, citing the threat of climate change as among her reasons. “National security advisors all tell us that the climate crisis is a national security matter,” Pelosi said.
However, during the same month, former presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said climate change was the very reason the high-priced bill should not have been supported.
At a time when the scientists are telling us that we face an existential threat in terms of climate change, we are told that we just don’t have enough money to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and create a planet that will be healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations,” Sanders said in a statement. “Just don’t have enough money. Yet today the U.S. Senate will begin consideration of an annual defense budget that costs $778 billion.”