House Passes $883 Billion Annual Defense Bill With Culture War Amendments

The House of Representatives on June 14 passed its annual defense policy bill with GOP-approved culture war amendments that are certain to put the House on a collision course with the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The final tally on the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) vote was 217–199, with six Democrats voting in favor and three Republicans voting against.

The $883.7 billion bill, which has more than 1,000 pages, provides continued funding for military aircraft, ships, vehicles, and weapons programs. It also includes a 4.5 percent pay raise for U.S. service members and about 15 percent in additional pay for some junior enlisted service members, bringing their overall pay boost to nearly 20 percent under this year’s budget.

The NDAA includes culture war provisions such as eliminating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) positions within the Department of Defense (DoD) and imposing a hiring freeze on DEI positions in the DoD. there is a measure to block DoD funding for abortion-related expenses, another that bars the DoD from funding or providing gender transition surgeries and hormone treatments, as well as measures to prohibit the DoD’s education arm from purchasing or displaying material that “promotes radical gender ideology or pornographic content.”

The House version also includes an amendment, introduced by Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.), that prohibits the Pentagon from contracting with entities that have engaged in boycotts of Israel and would bar the department from selling products made by entities that boycott Israel at any of its commissary stores or military exchanges.

Another amendment, introduced by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), would block the DoD from allocating funds for various climate-action-related executive orders issued by President Joe Biden.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the House-passed bill will find no traction in the upper chamber.

“The legislation coming out of the House today is loaded with anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice, anti-environment, and other divisive amendments guaranteed not to pass the Senate,” he said in a statement.

“As we move forward with this year’s NDAA process, both sides will have to work together to pass bipartisan legislation that honors and respects all who serve in defense of our nation.”

While the defense bill has traditionally passed in a bipartisan fashion, recent years have seen a marked increase in partisan amendments that are viewed as “poison pills” by the opposing party.

The Senate version of $911.8 billion does not include the culture war amendments. Like the House, it does include support for military operations in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, a 4.5 percent increase for service members. Unlike the House, however, the Senate would require women to sign up for the Selective Service System, the U.S. draft program that has not been in use since the Vietnam War.

The House and Senate must now come up with a final bill that passes both chambers before it is sent to President Biden for his signature. The last NDAA, which was negotiated by leaders in the House and Senate, stripped most of the culture war amendments that had passed in the House version.

“As we confront increasingly hostile threats from Communist China, Russia, and Iran, we must provide our military with all the tools they need to defend our nation and deter our enemies,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) in a statement following the House NDAA’s passage.

“This year’s NDAA will refocus our military on its core mission of defending America and its interests across the globe, fund the deployment of the National Guard to the southwest border, expedite innovation and reduce the acquisition timeline for new weaponry, support our allies, and strengthen our nuclear posture and missile defense programs.”

Senators have yet to respond to the House NDAA, but Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) voted against the version that came out of his committee on June 14. He released a statement that said, “It includes a funding increase that cannot be appropriated without breaking lawful spending caps and causing unintended harm to our military.”

The House NDAA is $12 billion less than the $895 billion cap for defense spending for the 2025 fiscal year under the debt ceiling deal that was agreed to last year while the Senate version is $16.8 billion more than that.

On June 11, the White House issued a statement of administration policy laying out President Biden’s objections to several of the bill’s provisions.

The White House expressed disappointment that the current version of the House NDAA provides $700 million less than the president requested for the annual shipbuilding budget and calls for funding one less ship than he had hoped for.

President Biden also signaled his opposition to House provisions that would limit DEI programs.

“The prohibitions regarding DEI efforts would impede DoD’s and Federal agencies’ ability to recruit and retain the diverse perspectives, experiences, and skill sets that are foundational to the strength of the Federal workforce,” the White House said.

“Creating and supporting programs and policies that embrace DEI fosters workforce cultures that are inclusive of all individuals.”

From The Epoch Times