House approves $695B defense spending bill, includes climate change requirement

With strong support from Democrats, the House of Representatives passed a broad $695.5 billion defense spending bill Friday.

By a 344–81 margin, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 passed with eight Republicans defecting and 117 Democrats opposed.

At odds with President Trump’s request for $603 billion, the bill also exceeds statutory budget caps from the 2011 Budget Control Act by $72 billion, which will force Congress to either repeal the act or increase its limits.

“If you don’t raise the budget caps, this leaves us once again in the land of absurdity,” said ranking House Armed Services Committee member, Adam Smith (D-Wash.).

Under the bill’s provisions, $75 billion is earmarked for war funding; the remaining $621.5 billion is designated the base budget for the military. The policy initiative also includes language that acknowledges climate change as a “direct threat to the national security,” and requires the Pentagon to report to Congress on the effects of rising global temperatures on military operations.

Despite a resounding vote in favor, the bill faced a series of hurdles and awaits a challenge in the Senate.

The House version of NDAA takes $10 billion from war funding to add to the Pentagon’s base budget. The White House also voiced some objections, specifically language preventing the closure of military bases, military uses in outer space, arms control agreements with Russia and preventing U.S. recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Additionally, the bill faced over 200 amendments from the House Rules Committee, more than any other previous NDAA.  Among those rejected was a motion proposed by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) to prevent tax dollars from paying for gender transition medical procedures.

Also included in the legislation is a provision which raises the cost requirement for reporting “noncompetitive” government defense contracts from $500,000 to $2.5 million. The Senate version would raise the threshold to $1 million.

The bill now heads to the Senate, which is currently considering a $700 billion NDAA.

 

[The Hill] [AP] [The Intercept] [Photo courtesy NAUS.org]