House narrowly passes $733 billion NDAA, setting up for Senate fight

Pentagon (DoD photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force)

The House passed its $733 billion defense authorization bill along party lines, 220-197, without any Republican support.

The July 12 vote closed out weeks of debate over high-profile issues, namely the topline budget, which is $17 billion less than the president’s request and the Senate’s version of the bill, funding for additional nuclear capabilities and an amendment that would prevent war with Iran without Congress’ approval.

President Donald Trump announced July 9 that the current version of the House National Defense Authorization Act would get vetoed.

Republicans pushed for the bill to be sent back to the House Armed Services Committee to consider an amendment to further increase the topline budget, but they were unsuccessful. Tech initiatives were not subject to much debate, but some efforts may have received more funding with Republican-supported amendments.

HASC Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) grew increasingly frustrated during the floor debates, saying, "the Pentagon is apparently the only place in the country where Republicans feel they can throw money at the problem."

Smith has complained that Republicans are calling for giving the Defense Department more money than can be efficiently spent. Ranking Member, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) has argued that more funds are needed to reverse damage from years of continuing resolutions and sequestration and to stay competitive.

5G is "a big deal for the military," Thornberry said in closing floor remarks, "and yet the bill cuts $261 million from what the administration requested."

The 2020 defense policy and program bill will likely continue to face opposition as it heads to the Senate, which passed its own $750 billion bill, 86-8, in June.


About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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