Update(1358ET): On Thursday the House passed the massive, record-setting annual defense authorization bill, which will now see the $847 billion measure go to the Senate, which has to be voted on before the year-end deadline.
It passed in a vote of 350-80 along largely bipartisan lines. According to The Hill, "It was approved under suspension of the rules, an expedited process to pass legislation in the House that requires a two-thirds majority."
One interesting measure which will be welcomes across the Department of Defense is a 4.6% pay raise for both military members and the DoD's civilian workers.
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As Dave DeCamp of AntiWar.com previously detailed, the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday narrowly voted down a bill that would audit the tens of billions of dollars that Congress has approved to spend on the war in Ukraine. The bill was rejected by the Democrat-led panel in a vote of 26 to 22. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and a small group of Republicans who oppose US aid to Ukraine, but it received strong support from more hawkish Republicans.
Republican Reps. Thomas Massie (KY), Matt Gaetz (FL), Barry Moore (AL), and Andrew Clyde (GA) cosponsored Greene’s bill. Greene has said that she will reintroduce the measure in the next Congress when Republicans have a majority in the House. "It’s official the Democrats have voted NO to transparency for the American people for an Audit for Ukraine," Greene wrote on Twitter after the vote. "But we take over in January! This audit will happen!"
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), who is expected to head the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the next Congress, has come out in favor of the audit bill. "The era of writing blank checks is over," McCaul said, according to The Washington Post.
McCaul has been critical of the Biden administration for not sending longer-range weapons to Ukraine and wants to encourage Ukrainian strikes on Crimea despite the risk of escalation. But he represents the mainstream Republicans who want to keep arming Ukraine but agree there should be more oversight.
Democrats have been critical of the growing Republican calls for more oversight of the Ukraine aid. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the head of the House Armed Services Committee, even dismissed the concerns as "Russian propaganda" and said the calls from Republicans to increase oversight “makes me a little crazy.”
Meanwhile also on Tuesday night, Congress unveiled the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), worth $858 billion, $45 billion more than what President Biden requested for the military spending bill. The House is expected to vote on the legislation this week, and it could be brought to the floor as soon as Thursday. Once the House approves the bill, it will be sent to the Senate, then to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
Biden's initial defense budget request: $813 billion— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) December 7, 2022
House Armed Services Committee version: $839 billion
Senate Armed Services Committee version: $847 billion
Final version, just released: $859 billion
Oddly, this one budgetary process always seems to go in the same direction
The massive $858 billion bill represents an 8% increase from the 2022 NDAA, which was also larger than what Biden requested. The $858 billion includes $817 billion for the Pentagon, and the remaining funds go toward military spending for other departments.
Notable amendments packed into the NDAA include $10 billion in military aid for Taiwan that will be dispersed over five years. The aid is in the form of Foreign Military Financing, a State Department program that gives foreign governments funds to purchase US-made military equipment.
The NDAA also includes $800 million in the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a program that allows the US government to purchase weapons for Ukraine. But the vast majority of spending on the Ukraine war will come through emergency funding, and the White House is hoping Congress approves a new $37.7 billion tranche of Ukraine aid during the lame-duck period.
Rep. Gerry Connolly was one of the Democrats who shut down @RepMTG’s resolution to audit the 80 billion+ taxpayer dollars flowing into the pockets of Ukrainian warlords.— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) December 7, 2022
“I support transparency and accountability,” Connolly claimed, “but not now.” pic.twitter.com/pkrPbU9vQY
The NDAA includes $11.5 billion in new investments for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a program to build up in the Asia Pacific to confront China. The Pentagon has identified China as its main focus, and the NDAA includes investment in new technology research and development that US military leaders say is meant to counter Beijing.