House passes $839 billion defense bill, more than Biden’s request

The House on Thursday passed an $839 defense authorization act bill for the 2023 fiscal year, $37 billion beyond what President Biden requested in his budget. 

The Senate still needs to vote on its version of the National Defense Authorization Act before the two bills can be reconciled. The bipartisan vote in the House was 329-101. For the last six decades, the annual defense authorization bill has set the military’s budget and policies for the year ahead. 

The legislation fulfills the president’s budget request to keep a military of approximately 2.1 million members. Among other things, the House bill gives service members and civilians a 4.6% pay raise for and includes inflation bonuses for service members and civilians earning less than $45,000 a year. 

“At a time when democracies worldwide face both old and new threats, the FY23 NDAA supports investments in what makes our country competitive around the world and strong at home: a diverse and talented military and civilian workforce; groundbreaking science and technology research, especially at Historically Black Colleges and Universities; and the alliances and partnerships we need to meet our biggest global security challenges,” Rep. Adam Smith, the Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “I am especially proud that this year’s bill supports those who defend our country by giving them the compensation they deserve with a 4.6% pay raise for service members and civilian personnel, as well as relief for their housing and other everyday costs.”

Supplying Ukraine with aid in its war against Russia was also a focus of the bill and its amendments. The bill requires the Pentagon to establish and use a strategy to increase competitive opportunities for defense contractors making artificial intelligence technology, a provision Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, applauded. 

“The full-scale invasion of Ukraine has highlighted challenges to our defense industry,” McCaul said in a statement. “Should more conflicts around the world erupt, the U.S. cannot afford to have outdated processes that impede our procurement of necessary weapons systems. We must rejuvenate our aging systems with American innovation, while setting the stage for new, best-of-breed systems.”

Mr. Biden is in the Middle East this week for a trip to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia. In Israel, Mr. Biden and Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid reiterated their commitment to supporting Ukraine. 

“Israel and the United States also stand together to defend the fundamental values and underwrite global security, prosperity, and freedom, not just for us but for many around the world,” Mr. Biden said Thursday. “And Putin’s assault on Ukraine is a challenge to the peace and stability everywhere in the world. Putin’s war must be a strategic failure, and the free world must sustain our resolve to help Ukraine defend its democracy.”



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