The House passed the compromise version of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act on Thursday, providing $25 billion more than President Biden’s request for Defense spending.
The $768 billion measure looks to allocate $740 billion toward Department of Defense programs, $27.8 billion for Department of Energy national security programs and $378 million for other defense-related matters.
The legislation includes a 2.7 percent pay raise for the troops, increases paternal leave for service members
As Ukraine faces increased threats from Russia, the measure would provide $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which is aimed at helping provide Kyiv the resources needed to combat aggressions at its border. The bill includes language calling for the secretary of Defense to provide “detailed reports” on counterterrorism efforts and plans to address Americans and Afghan allies that remain in Afghanistan following the military’s turbulent exit from the country earlier this year. An independent commission tasked with looking into the war in Afghanistan would also be established.
While the measure that passed the House in September included a provision requiring women to enlist in the draft, the controversial language was omitted from the compromise bill, providing a win for conservatives who were vocal in their opposition to the measure.
The legislation also calls for stringer repercussions for sexual assault in the military, criminalizing “sexual harassment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice” with all claims being subject to an investigation by an independent investigator.
In an effort to combat violent extremism, the bill includes a provision calling for the Department of Defense to submit a report on the matter.
While the House’s push to establish a Space National Guard did not make it into the final bill, it does include language to establish “an office, organizational structure, and provides authorities to address unidentified aerial phenomena,” better known as UFOs.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle praised its passage, touting that it provides the necessary resources for the troops to carry out their duties.
“This is an unbelievable process, it is representative democracy and this bill truly reflects that. It is a bipartisan, bicameral product that took into account every single opinion that it could,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said on the floor ahead of the vote.
“And I think we have produced an outstanding product The number one thing that I want to make sure that people are aware of is how important the Armed Services’ Committees job of exercising oversight over the Department of Defense is and how important our job is in making sure that the men and women who serve our country have everything they need to carry out the missions that we asked them to do.”
Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) echoed his sentiments, adding he believes the country needs to do all it can to protect itself and its allies from its adversaries.
Threats from China and Russia are not the only ones we face, so we must continue to take the fight to them,” he said. “With strong investments and new capabilities, this bill enables our war fighters to do that. We are horrified by the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, This bill includes provisions to provide accountability and ensure we honor the 2,500 Americans who gave their lives to keep our nation safe.”
The Senate expected to pass the massive annual defense bill before the end of the week.