House passes NDAA authorizing huge spending boost for Trump’s Defense Department

July 14, 2017

The House on Friday passed a defense policy bill that calls for more ships, aircraft, and soldiers, and authorizes $696 billion in defense spending in fiscal year 2018, well above President Trump’s request.

The House approved the National Defense Authorization Act after days of debate that saw lawmakers block many controversial amendments to the bill, including a proposed ban on transgender medical care for troops and the closure of excess military facilities. The House defeated that in a narrow 209-214 vote.

On Friday morning, the House also shot down a proposal from Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., that would have required the Defense Department to assess the use of violent Islamic religious doctrine to support terrorism. Lawmakers defeated that amendment in another close vote, 208-217, which was followed by cheers on the floor from some Democrats.

A measure creating a new Space Corps military service survived debate and remained in the bill despite opposition from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Air Force leaders and the White House.

Despite these disputes, the NDAA passed easily in a bipartisan, 344-81 vote. Majorities in both parties supported it, and just eight Republicans voted against it along with 73 Democrats.

The House-passed NDAA bill would add 17,000 soldiers to the Army, something requested by the service but unfunded under the president’s budget, as well as authorize purchase of four additional Navy ships, 17 more F-35 fighter jets, and eight more F/A-18 Super Hornet jets. The House bill is comprised of two sections, one that would authorize $631.6 billion in base defense spending, and $65 billion in overseas war spending.

Trump requested a $603 billion defense plan in May that was already an increase over last year’s funding, but still focuses on shoring up existing forces and pushes his promised military buildup into 2019.

The House’s NDAA defense bill must be reconciled with Senate plans, but the vote Friday was another sign the two chambers may push big increases for the military for the coming fiscal year.

Senators are now weighing an NDAA authorizing $700 billion in spending, which also blows past Trump’s defense budget and also hikes aircraft, ship and troop numbers.

That bill has not yet made it to the Senate floor but could be considered before senators leave Washington at the end of the month for the summer recess.