Women were forced to register for the draught, the Iraq war was cancelled and sanctions were placed on a Russian gas pipeline, all of which were abandoned immediately in a last-ditch effort to save what had been a bipartisan objective. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved the $768 billion defence policy measure by an overwhelming majority.
According to the legislation, which was unveiled just hours before the vote, the Democratic-led Congress is on track to increase the Pentagon’s budget by approximately $24 billion above what President Biden had requested. This has enraged antiwar progressives who had hoped that their party’s control of the White House and both houses of Congress would lead to cuts to military programmes after decades of expansion.
It instead provides significant increases for initiatives to counter China and strengthen Ukraine, as well as the procurement of new aircraft and ships, demonstrating the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill for continuing to spend massive amounts of federal money on defence initiatives, even as Republicans criticise Democrats for spending freely on social programmes.
A 363-to-70 vote on Tuesday sends the proposal to the Senate, where it is anticipated to pass with strong bipartisan support as soon as this week, despite the large margin of victory. After the House passed an unusual measure to pave the way for a swift increase in the debt ceiling to avert a first-ever federal default, Democrats in Congress were able to finish up their year-end business and use the remainder of their legislative calendar to try to pass President Joe Biden’s signature social and climate policy legislation.
Defense policy legislation has traditionally been regarded a must-pass issue since it permits an annual pay rise for the nation’s military as well as new Pentagon initiatives. Lawmakers have taken great satisfaction in passing the defence policy legislation on a yearly basis without fail for decades. House and Senate members normally write and approve their own legislation independently, considering hundreds of modifications along the way, before negotiating a final version that is acceptable to both chambers of Congress.
A number of foreign policy concerns were left unresolved since the Senate failed to approve its own military bill or debate any changes, giving MPs the opportunity to vote. Instead, senior congressional officials have been meeting behind closed doors in recent weeks to piece together a plan that might be passed by both houses in a short period of time.
As part of the agreement, the military commanders will be stripped of their jurisdiction over sexual assault cases and many other major offences, and these cases would be brought before independent military prosecutors, which has long been resisted by military officials and presidents. Earlier this year, President Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III both backed the adjustment in strategy.
The proposal had long been opposed by conservatives in Congress, who said that it was unethical to compel women to participate in the country”s conflicts. A group of House Republicans had threatened to withdraw their support for the bill if it was included in it. Their support was required since liberals were opposed to such a huge military spending and would not support it without their support.
A measure enacted by the House that authorised Mr. Biden to apply penalties on Russia for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany and is feared by legislators to give Moscow excessive control over Central Europe, was also left out of the final legislation.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Senate rejected a bipartisan effort by Senators Bernie Sanders (independent of Vermont), Rand Paul (Republican of Kentucky), and Mike Lee (Republican of Utah) to prevent a $650 million weapons deal to Saudi Arabia from proceeding. Sending the tranche, which includes 280 air-to-air missiles and roughly 600 missile launchers, according to the three legislators, would be a kind of compensation for the Saudi government’s continued involvement in the Yemen conflict, they said.
The Biden administration campaigned against the embargo, claiming that the tranche included only of defensive weaponry and hence should not be targeted. In the end, just 30 senators voted in support of the proposal, including Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who was the majority leader at the time.
Additionally, the legislation would prohibit military contractors and previous cabinet secretaries from sitting on the commission that would be established to investigate the war in Afghanistan.