On Wednesday, the Senate passed the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, sending the annual defense bill to President Joe Biden’s desk and ensuring that Congress’ long-standing record of passing an NDAA every year remains unbroken.
The final vote in the Senate was 88-11, with strong bipartisan support. The House passed the bill last week by a vote of 363-70.
“I am pleased that the Senate has voted in an overwhelming, bipartisan fashion to pass this year’s defense bill. Our nation faces an enormous range of security challenges, and it is more important than ever that we provide our military men and women with the support they need to keep Americans safe,” Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said in a statement shortly after the 88-11 vote.
“This bill provides our military with the resources and authorities they need to defend our country—which is more important now than it’s ever been before, at least in my lifetime,” SASC ranking member Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said in a statement. “This bill sends a clear message to our allies—that the United States remains a reliable, credible partner—and to our adversaries—that the U.S. military is prepared and fully able to defend our interests around the world.”
The NDAA authorizes spending levels and allows Congress to exercise oversight over the Pentagon, setting policy and requiring reports each year. This year’s version authorizes $768 billion in spending, well above the $715 billion DOD budget requested by Biden.
However, the bill does not actually appropriate any funds. The government is currently operating under a continuing resolution, keeping spending levels frozen at fiscal 2021 levels. And in a speech on the Senate floor shortly before the NDAA’s passage, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) urged his colleagues to back up their support of the NDAA with an appropriations bill to fund it.
”Now, the NDAA is an important piece of legislation … it sets overarching policy for the Department of Defense and guides our national security,” Leahy said. “But, but, make sure people understand, what it does not do provide the funding to implement the policies it sets. It says what the policies will be, it declares what the funding should be, but there’s not one penny, not one penny in this bill.”
“We are ten weeks into the fiscal year,” he said. “Let’s get to work negotiating full-year appropriations bills that address our country’s many needs, including our country’s national defense.”
This year’s bill includes changes to the military justice system that overhaul how the military handles sexual assault and harassment. It also includes a 2.7 percent pay increase and establishes a “multi-year independent Afghanistan War Commission” to examine the war in Afghanistan after the US military withdrawal