The National Defense Authorization Act, the yearly legislation which establishes the policy schedule and approves $770 billion for the Department of Defense, received approval from the House of Representatives this week.
The bill advances to the Senate, where it will have to be voted on (and passed) by the Senate and later signed by President Joe Biden.
The bill won with robust bipartisan backing, with 169 Dems and 194 GOPs voting yes for the bill and a conclusive vote of 363-70. However, 19 Repubs and 51 Dems decided against the bill. House Speaker Pelosi was the sole Congressperson not to vote.
The ultimate transcription of the bill, receiving support from leaders on both sides, includes modifications to the ways sexual harassment and assault get handled and prosecuted inside the military, a 2.7 percent pay raise for Defense Department civilian employees and military service members, plus $300M in military assistance for the Ukrainian Security Assistance Initiative, totaling $50 million more compared to what was suggested in the budget offer, reports of the bill’s writing via the House and Senate Armed Services Committees declared.
The comprehensive bill spots points that have sat on the top of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s mind following his taking the reigns of the department in January, from the approach of sexual harassment and assault in the military to modifications to discrimination training and bias for each military branch.
The bill further creates a multi-year autonomous Afghanistan War Commission to investigate the War in Afghanistan following the US military’s August 2021 departure, comprising the war’s 20 years.
This bill defines sexual harassment as a crime in the Uniform Code of Military Justice for the first time. “Each allegation of sexual harassment shall be ordered to be examined by an objective investigator apart of the chain of command,” the bill review declares.
The bill additionally sets an “office, organizational structure, and provides authorities to address unidentified aerial phenomena,” also known as UFOs.
Although the bill is seen as a thorough bipartisan resolution since leaders in both chambers and both parties accepted the text prior to the House vote last Tuesday, not all members were satisfied with the ultimate outcome.