Big battles in play as the Senate tackles a massive defense policy bill

Including women in the draft, increasing defense spending, and rewriting a president’s powers to fight future wars are among the key ideological hotspots in play as the Senate begins to consider its version of the massive annual defense policy bill.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Monday gave in to growing pressure from both sides of the aisle to launch a debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with few weeks left in the legislative calendar. Congress has passed the bill on a bipartisan basis for six decades, making it a popular tool for major policy changes and spending changes in the Department of Defense and beyond.

“You heard Republicans repeatedly say this legislation is urgent and needs to be taken up immediately,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Tuesday. “With their cooperation, the Senate can begin to consider the bill today. We Democrats are ready to do that, and I hope our Republicans can join us in moving the law.”

Legislators have piled on more than 800 amendments to the already colossal bill in recent weeks, setting the stage for a potentially lengthy process to get the measure over the finish line. The bill sets out the overall budget guidelines for the Pentagon as well as dives deep into individual political debates.

Among the hotspots this year is an amendment to the strike language, already passed by the House of Commons and the Senate Armed Services Committee, which for the first time in history will require young women as well as men to register and be subject to military draft if reinstated. Supporters of the change note the growing number of women already serving in the military and the fact that virtually all military duties, including combat jobs, are performed by both sexes.

The measure revealed cracks in the Republican Party as the NDAA came through the House. Conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus called on other Republicans who refused to fight the change.

“I can not believe the Republican Republicans sweep it aside, sweep it under the rug and refuse to talk about it,” the Rep said. Chip Roy, Texas Republican and member of the Freedom Caucus in September. “While blindly marching forward and saying that the conference supports the adoption of the NDAA.”

More moderate Republicans in the House said the language was not worth refueling the entire bill, which included several important victories for the conference.

Late. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, voted against including women in the draft during the committee marking and has introduced a final amendment to push the language through in the Senate.

“It is wrong to force our daughters, mothers, wives and sisters to fight our wars,” Mr Hawley said.

Five other Republicans have signed on to the measure: Sens. Ted Cruz from Texas, Tom Cotton from Arkansas, Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith from Mississippi and Roger Marshall from Kansas.

Budget struggles

That Senate and House versions of the bill also include language to increase next year’s defense budget by $ 25 billion, a major victory for Republicans and a setback for House progressives who fought for lower spending.

Two California Democrats – rep. Barbara Lee, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, and rep. Sara Jacobs, who also sits on the appropriations panel, proposed a change to erase the $ 25 billion increase, but was voted down by a 286- to 142-vote vote.

The Board of Representatives has also resolutely removed a separate measure to impose an additional 10% haircut on Mr Biden’s proposal, which was offered by the Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat. The vote was 332-86.

Late. Bernard Sanders, the independent Vermont chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has introduced similar measures in the Senate to block the $ 25 billion plus-up and further reduce the Pentagon budget under President Biden’s proposal.

Mr. Schumer has also pledged to follow the Senate’s version of a measure to revoke the president’s 1991 and 2002 authorizations to use force for the Gulf War in 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Critics have long said that presidents of both parties have used the permits to launch military action far beyond what the original measures required.

Over the summer, Mr Schumer promised a vote in the Senate before the end of the year on Permits for the Use of Military Power (AUMFs) and said on Tuesday that the NDAA provided an appropriate tool to do so.

“After the fall of Saddam Hussein, presidents have continued to extend the use of the AUMF from 2002 for purposes wildly beyond what any member who voted for that decision [had ever] intentional, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat, said Tuesday.

Although lawmakers on both sides largely agree that the permits are obsolete, some Republicans argue that the repeal without a clear replacement could send the wrong message to Iran and other U.S. opponents.

“If we lift Iraq’s sanctions, we need to put something back on the table that is modern, tailor – made and limited, so that we can send clear messages to our allies in the Middle East, as well as to our opponents like Iran, that the United States remains determined to protect the interests of our nation, ”said Sen. Bill Hagerty, a Republican from Tennessee, in August.

The abolition of the AUMFs would be the first withdrawal of the president’s military forces since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Among the hundreds of other amendments and provisions at play in the NDAA debate are several measures to signal stronger U.S. support for Taiwan in light of the pressure on China; the composition of an independent commission to investigate US political mistakes in Afghanistan; new sanctions against companies working on Germany’s Nord Stream II pipeline project with Russia; and an amendment tabled by Senator Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, and others who would transfer control of the DC National Guard from the president to the mayor of the District of Columbia.

The Senate could begin voting on amendments as early as Wednesday.

Give a Comment