House Prepares to Pass $768 Billion Defense Policy Bill

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Lawmakers tossed retired immoderate bipartisan provisions arsenic they rushed to beforehand the bill, which would summation the Pentagon’s fund by much than what President Biden had requested.

The defence  argumentation  measure  would authorize a 2.7 percent wage  summation   for the nation’s military.
Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Catie Edmondson

Dec. 7, 2021, 4:46 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — The House raced connected Tuesday to walk a $768 cardinal defence argumentation measure aft lawmakers abruptly dropped proposals that would person required women to registry for the draft, repealed Congress’s 2002 authorization of the Iraq warfare and imposed sanctions for a Russian state pipeline, successful a late-year thrust to salvage a bipartisan priority.

The legislation, unveiled conscionable hours earlier a planned vote, enactment the Democratic-led Congress connected way to summation the Pentagon’s fund by astir $24 cardinal supra what President Biden had requested, angering antiwar progressives who had hoped that their party’s power of the White House and some houses of Congress would pb to cuts to subject programs aft decades of growth.

Instead, the measurement provides important increases for initiatives intended to antagonistic China and bolster Ukraine, arsenic good arsenic the procurement of caller craft and ships, underscoring the bipartisan statement connected Capitol Hill for continuing to walk immense amounts of national wealth connected defence initiatives, adjacent arsenic Republicans lash Democrats for spending freely connected societal programs.

Because it authorizes an yearly wage summation for the nation’s troops arsenic good arsenic caller Pentagon programs, the defence argumentation measure has typically been considered a must-pass item, and lawmakers person prided themselves connected doing truthful annually without neglect for decades. The House and Senate usually trade and walk their ain bills separately, considering dozens of amendments on the way, earlier negotiating a compromise version.

But this year, that process collapsed successful an end-of-year spasm of dysfunction antithetic adjacent for a legislative assemblage that is plagued by partisan paralysis.

The Senate neither passed its ain measure nor considered immoderate amendments, denying lawmakers the accidental to ballot connected a fig of overseas argumentation issues. Instead, apical legislature officials huddled down closed doors successful caller days to cobble unneurotic a measure that could rapidly walk some chambers.

In its last form, the authorities would authorize a 2.7 percent wage summation for the nation’s military, telephone for an autarkic committee to scrutinize the warfare successful Afghanistan, and prohibit the Pentagon from procuring items produced with forced labour from the Xinjiang portion of China, wherever arsenic galore arsenic 1 cardinal Uyghurs person been detained successful enactment camps.

It besides contains a painstakingly negotiated compromise to portion subject commanders of authorization implicit intersexual battle cases and galore different superior crimes, placing them nether autarkic subject prosecutors successful a determination that had agelong been opposed by subject leaders and presidents. Both Mr. Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III endorsed the shift earlier this year.

Other important changes were near retired successful the involvement of swift passage. Lawmakers tossed retired a measurement requiring women to registry with the Selective Service System for the archetypal clip successful American history, a measurement endorsed by a nationalist committee past twelvemonth that recovered expanding eligibility for the selective work would beryllium a important measurement toward expanding some sex equity and readiness successful the military.

Some conservatives successful Congress had agelong resisted the idea, arguing that it was immoral to unit women to combat the nation’s wars, and a bloc of House Republicans had threatened to withhold their enactment for the measure if it was included. Their votes were needed due to the fact that of absorption among liberals, who refused to endorse specified a ample defence budget.

Leaders of the equipped services committees besides excluded a House-passed measure to repeal the 2002 instrumentality authorizing the penetration of Iraq, which has been stretched by aggregate administrations to warrant subject enactment astir the world. Repealing the authorization was expected to triumph wide bipartisan backing successful the Senate.

Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and 1 of the pb authors of the measure, told reporters helium was “confident” that the contented would get a ballot successful the “near future,” citing a committedness from enactment leaders.

Also missing from the last authorities was a proviso passed by the House that directed Mr. Biden to enforce sanctions implicit the Nord Stream 2, an undersea state pipeline moving from Russia to Germany that lawmakers fearfulness volition springiness Moscow undue leverage implicit Central Europe.

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“This sends the worst imaginable connection to Ukraine arsenic Putin’s forces basal astatine its doorstep,” said Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, the apical Republican connected the Foreign Relations Committee, connected the determination to propulsion the connection from the bill. “So overmuch for Congress reasserting its relation successful overseas policy.”

The defence argumentation measure was expected to walk the intimately divided House by a constrictive margin, with a bloc of liberals voting “no.”

In September, the House Armed Services Committee approved its mentation of the legislation, aft implicit a twelve mean Democrats connected the sheet joined Republicans successful pushing it through.

The measure inactive includes a slew of provisions requiring that the medication supply much reports to Congress connected Afghanistan, including 1 requesting regular briefings that measure the surveillance and reconnaissance capableness of the United States to behaviour counterterrorism operations there.

In summation to authorizing the instauration of a committee to scrutinize the 20-year warfare successful Afghanistan, the measurement would barroom defence contractors and erstwhile furniture secretaries from serving connected it.

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