House passes defense spending bill with conservative provisions

Republicans passed legislation that would fund the military next year, but the historically bipartisan bill had little help from Democrats.
Posted at 12:48 PM, Jul 14, 2023

The House passed H.R. 2607 on Friday with primarily Republican support and opposition from leading Democrats. The bill as it currently stands likely would need to be amended by a Democratic-led Senate for it to pass. 

The bill provides the military with its annual funding for the 2024 fiscal year. Republicans boasted that the authorization gives troops their largest pay raise in decades. 

They have used the fact that all but four Democrats voted in opposition of raising military pay. But many Democrats say some of the social provisions in the bill went too far. 

"Are the rest of the Democrats against a pay raise for the (troops)?" House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said. "Are they against deterring China for a safe future? Are they against rooting out wasteful spending because they all voted against it today?"

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Among them were provisions to end inclusion and diversity training in the military and bar service members from accessing transgender health care services. The bill also prohibits the military from reimbursing abortion expenses. Troops would also not be required to wear masks in times of pandemic or infectious diseases. 

“Extreme MAGA Republicans have chosen to hijack the historically bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act to continue attacking reproductive freedom and jamming their right-wing ideology down the throats of the American people," said Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries. "House Republicans have turned what should be a meaningful investment in our men and women in uniform into an extreme and reckless legislative joyride. The bill undermines a woman’s freedom to seek abortion care, targets the rights of LGBTQ+ servicemembers and bans books that should otherwise be available to military families."

While four Republicans voted in opposition, four Democrats who voted in favor gave the bill enough of a cushion for passage. 

"Radical programs that are enforced on our troops at the expense of our readiness are now eliminated," McCarthy said.

The annual National Defense Authorization Act generally gets strong bipartisan support. The 2022 defense bill passed the Senate by an 88-11 margin. It also passed the House with a 363-70 margin. This year's authorization was approved by an 83-11 ledger in the Senate and 350-80 margin in the House.