House passes $768 billion defense spending bill, despite GOP opposition

The Democratic-controlled House on Thursday approved a wide-ranging bipartisan defense policy bill, despite strong opposition from a conservative wing of the Republican party.

The 316-113 vote in favor of the $768 billion defense measure came after lawmakers spent hours debating hundreds of amendments. The bill, which guides Pentagon policy and covers the fiscal year 2022, is roughly 5 percent more than the previous year’s bill.

It provides automatic pay raises for U.S. troops, funds the branches of the armed forces, veteran health care, and authorizes other military programs, among other measures.

The bill, which is reauthorized annually, typically passes with broad bipartisan support. But a day before the bill’s passage, the House Freedom Caucus urged the Republican party to oppose the measure because of an amendment that would allow the registration of women for the Selective Service System, which was approved with bipartisan support while the bill was in committee.

The House Republican Conference had signaled its support for the bill — known formally as the National Defense Authorization Act — in a memo Monday.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was one of many lawmakers who introduced an amendment during the debate on the House floor. Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment aimed to reduce the price tag of the bill by 10 percent. However, it failed.

Earlier Thursday, the House also approved a bill to provide funding for Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defense system after it was removed from the broader spending bill. The vote — 420-9 — came after some progressive Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez, raised objections to the $1 billion cost. Overall, eight Democrats and one Republican voted against that bill.

The Senate has already passed the measure, which now will go to a conference committee to resolve differences.

Haley Talbot and Frank Thorp V contributed.

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