The U.S. House of Representatives voted 393-27 on Tuesday to send a version of the bill setting Pentagon policies to conference with the Senate, paving the way for negotiations aimed at bridging the deep divide between the two chambers on issues such as access to abortion. and diversity efforts.
The massive bill — this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — authorizes $886 billion in military spending. It usually passes both houses of Congress in a mostly bipartisan fashion.
But this year, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a version of the bill by a narrow margin of 219 to 210, after right-wing Republicans added amendments on hot-button social issues like defunding the Pentagon that Democrats voted against. Reimbursement policy for service members traveling for abortions.
The broad support for sending the measure to conference reflects the belief among many Democrats that a conference with a Democratic-majority Senate will lead to a more moderate NDAA.
Without these provisions, the Senate passed its version of the bill by a vote of 86 to 11.
Representatives from both chambers will now meet to iron out differences between the two versions of the law and craft a final bill. It must be passed by both chambers before it can be sent to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign or veto.
The NDAA, distinct from appropriations bills that set government spending levels, governs everything from troop pay raises (5.2 percent this year) to purchases of ships and planes through policies like support for Ukraine.
It is one of the few major pieces of legislation Congress passes each year, taking effect every year since 1961.
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