The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a significant piece of legislation concerning U.S. defense policy, is now awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature after receiving approval from both the Senate and the House. The Senate passed the bill with an 87-13 vote on Wednesday night, followed by the House’s approval on Thursday morning with a 310-118 vote. The bill’s passage is seen as a compromise by some, including House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL), but it has also stirred concerns among other Republicans.
Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) has been a vocal critic, particularly regarding the bill’s handling of FISA Section 702 extensions, which he views as a compromise of personal privacy and liberties. During a House floor speech on Thursday, Roy challenged the process and decision-making involved in the bill’s passage. He criticized the leadership of both parties for what he perceived as circumventing proper legislative procedure and leveraging the defense bill to pass controversial measures.
Roy argued that the process is indicative of broader issues in Washington, D.C., citing concerns such as the national debt and government surveillance of American citizens. He contended that these issues are being ignored or exacerbated by the passage of the NDAA, which he believes fails to address key Republican concerns adequately.
The bill has been criticized for not including several provisions that were part of the original House Republican version. These omitted provisions include bans on taxpayer-funded abortion travel and gender transition surgeries, restrictions on radical climate agenda measures, prohibitions on race-based admissions at military academies, and elimination of Chief Diversity Officers. The bill also faces criticism for providing weaker protections for servicemembers discharged for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine and lacking robust accountability for funding Ukraine.
Supporters of the bill, including some members who voted in favor, emphasize that it does include provisions prohibiting funding for Critical Race Theory (CRT) and preventing adverse actions against members who decline the COVID-19 vaccine. These aspects align with some Republican priorities.
Rogers spoke about the practical challenges in satisfying all members with significant legislation, highlighting that achieving complete consensus is often not feasible. This sentiment reflects the complex nature of legislative negotiations and the difficulty of aligning diverse political interests.
Interestingly, the NDAA saw more support from Democrats than Republicans in the House, despite Republican control of the chamber. This pattern was also observed in other recent votes, including those on the continuing resolution, debt ceiling, and measures to avert a government shutdown.
The vote on the NDAA is viewed as an indicator of the evolving partisan dynamics in national defense politics. The bill’s passage, along with the internal disagreements it has sparked within the Republican party, underscores the ongoing debates over military policy and the direction of U.S. defense strategy.