US: House passes $733B defense bill

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $733 billion defense policy bill on Friday, defying President Donald Trump's veto threat by including provisions like a clampdown on funding for his planned wall on the border with Mexico. The House passed its version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, by a 220 to 197 vote without a single Republican voting in favor of the bill and after some of the most liberal Democrats opposed it as they pushed for a reduction in defense spending.

Republican voting against the bill sets the stage for a stiff fight over its provisions later this year that could threaten Congress' record of passing the NDAA annually for nearly six decades. The version of the bill passed by the Democratic-controlled House has several provisions that angered Republican Trump, including providing $17 billion less for the military than he wanted and denying funds he wants to fulfill his campaign promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

Because it is one the few pieces of major legislation Congress passes every year, the NDAA becomes a vehicle for a broad range of policy measures as well as setting everything from military pay levels to which ships or aircraft will be modernized, purchased or discontinued.

The NDAA is still several steps from becoming law. In the months to come, lawmakers must come up with a compromise version between the one passed by the House and the one passed last month in the Senate, where Trump's fellow Republicans hold power.

There are some key differences between the two bills. The Senate's provides $750 billion for the Pentagon and does not include several provisions designed to limit Trump's power to shift military funds for use building the wall or to deploy troops to work on the border. Read more via Reuters

House Passes National Defense Authorization Act with Amendment to End Trans Military Ban

HRC responds to the U.S. House passage of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA includes an amendment offered by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) that would codify non-discrimination protections in the military and end the ban on transgender military service.

“Today’s vote sends a powerful message to our transgender troops, their families, and their fellow service members that they have our country’s full support,” says Sarah McBride, HRC National Press Secretary. “We are grateful to all the troops and veterans who spoke out against this discriminatory ban, and to our partners who helped lead the fight. Reps. Adam Smith and Jackie Speier, along with fellow members of Congress, tirelessly advocated for equality in our country and helped ensure that transgender service members can serve our nation openly and freely.”

Sponsored by Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA), the National Defense Authorization Act authorizes FY2020 appropriations and sets forth policies for Department of Defense programs and activities. The defense authorization bill includes several amendments including: 

  • An amendment offered by Speier that would codify the military’s existing equal opportunity policies to include non-discrimination protections on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation, and end the ban on transgender military service;

  • An amendment offered by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) that would make it easier for service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to upgrade their discharge characterization;

  • An amendment offered by Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) that would require a report to gather vital information to analyze the effect of the ban on transgender military service.

Read more via HRC