Senate clears military authorization hurdle, sets up showdown with House

Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 12:29 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Senate passed its annual military authorization package Thursday in a 86-11 vote before getting out of town for its August recess. The legislation dictates how nearly $890 billion dollars in military funds should be spent next year. Passage of the National Defense Authorization Act sets up a showdown with a Republican-controlled House that approved a more controversial version of the bill.

“Let’s give our men and women who are in uniform the support that they need. Let’s make sure that we strengthen our national security,” said Senator Raphael Warnock (S.C.), who voted in support of the bill.

The wide-ranging legislation would increase service member pay, bolster nuclear capabilities, improve military bases, and much more. The Senate version stands in contrast to the House bill, which included provisions getting rid of funding for travel for troops to get abortions, trans-affirming care, and diversity offices and training.

“We see that there’s a corrupting influence of social pressures on the military. And this really should not be about social experimentation, it should be about readiness and lethality to protect the freedoms that we have here at home,” said Senator Ted Budd (R-N.C.).

Budd supports the controversial elements of the House bill which were not included in the Senate version because they were seen as nonstarters for Democrats. Budd did vote in favor of his chamber’s bill, which he says supports servicemembers in his state.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was a no vote.

“National defense is important, and maybe the most important thing we do up here. Still doesn’t mean we can pass defense budgets, military budgets, with unlimited spending,” said Paul.

The budget hawk argues spending across the board needs to be slashed. Paul expects a compromise bill to come from Senate and House negotiators, despite conservatives in the House sticking by their amendments that Democrats will not accept.

When lawmakers return from their August break not only will they have to reconcile differences on this legislation, but all other spending bills before the next fiscal year begins on October 1.