WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on Thursday passed an $840 billion bill that would increase President Biden’s proposed Pentagon budget by $37 billion, reflecting a growing bipartisan appetite in Congress to increase military spending in the face of new Increase threats from Russia and China.
The legislation would grant military personnel a 4.6 percent pay rise, limit the Biden administration’s ability to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, and require top national security agencies to report on white supremacist and neo-Nazi activities in the country Report to federal law enforcement agencies and combat the armed forces. While the measure garnered broad bipartisan support, scoring 329 to 101, Republicans had unanimously opposed the mandate to eradicate white supremacy, arguing that such an effort was unnecessary.
The bill also includes provisions aimed at mitigating civilian deaths and injuries from US military operations and allocating $100 million to support Ukrainian military pilots. And it would repeal the 2002 law authorizing the invasion of Iraq, which has been dragged out by several governments to justify global military action.
“We have a complex threat environment if you look at Russia, China and Iran,” said Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat and chair of the Armed Services Committee. “The war in Ukraine is a devastating threat to peace, stability and democracy, not just in Eastern Europe but around the world, which we are working with partners to counter. So we have to make sure we have a strong bill.”
House Democrats initially proposed meeting the military budget requested by Mr. Biden, but a bipartisan group on the Armed Services Committee overwhelmingly backed a measure by Rep. Jared Golden, a Maine Democrat, to increase the amount by about 4.6 percent.
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“We only have to look at world events in Ukraine, read reports on China’s plans and actions in the South China Sea, or simply read the latest headlines about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and North Korean missile tests and ongoing terrorist threats to see why this additional funding.” is necessary to meet the security challenges of our time,” said Mr. Golden.
In contrast, a multi-year attempt led by Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California, to cut the Pentagon’s budget — by $100 billion this year — failed Thursday on the floor of the House of Representatives in a resounding demonstration of bipartisan opposition, 350 to 78.
Also included in the military policy bill are a number of measures aimed at mitigating civilian deaths and injuries from US military operations, after the New York Times and others reported that the US air campaign against Islamic State was marred by failures Intelligence, confirmation bias, and low accountability.
The legislation would establish a “Civil Damage Commission” composed of a dozen senior civilians appointed by Congress to “investigate a representative sample of incidents of civil damage occurring when the United States used military force.” “.
Lawmakers also voted to add an amendment to the military policy bill that would require top national security agencies to report on and confront white supremacist and neo-Nazi activity in the federal police force and armed forces, in a vote that left Republicans of the House of Representatives were unanimously against .
“Such extremism threatens us in all parts of society. There’s no reason to think our military is any different,” said Rep. Brad Schneider, Illinois Democrat and sponsor of the regulation. He said instances of extremism in the United States armed forces “are rare, but we must do everything we can to detect and thwart them before risks become a reality.”
All Republicans voted no, but only one — Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs — publicly declared his opposition on the House floor. He argued that the proposal “seeks to create a problem where none exists” and “denigrates our men and women of service.”
“Any member of the military who showed interest or actual participation in a white supremacist or white nationalist group faced disciplinary action,” Mr Biggs said. “The relevant department either demoted, fired, or otherwise disciplined the sympathizer.”
The vote came as the nation continues to grapple with the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, which involved dozens of current and former military personnel and prompted efforts at the Pentagon to banish extremism from the armed forces. In December, the Pentagon updated its anti-extremism rules, including tightening guidelines on social media, changing the way it screens recruits and examining how to prevent retired troops from being targeted by extremist organizations.
The House of Representatives also approved a provision, led by Rep. Kathleen Rice, a New York Democrat, that would require a review of national security agencies’ compliance with domestic terrorism reporting requirements already established by current law. Only four Republicans supported him.
Ms Rice said she introduced the law after authorities presented “incomplete and inadequate information” in their first Congressional-commissioned report on domestic terrorism, which came almost a year late.
The votes were the latest indication of Republicans’ reluctance to address the issue of white nationalism and white supremacy, even as data shows such ideologies are helping to fuel a growing domestic threat of violent extremism. The party has largely declined to punish lawmakers in its ranks who have become accustomed to white nationalists, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona, both speaking at a white nationalist conference. Mr. Gosar bonded closely with the chair of the conference, Nick Fuentes.
It was not clear if the white dominant language, adopted by a vote of 218 to 208, would survive in Senate negotiations on the must-pass bill. At least some Republican support would be needed to muster the 60 votes needed to get the measure through the evenly split chamber.
In the House of Representatives, lawmakers also voted to give the mayor of the District of Columbia the same authority over the DC National Guard that state and territory governors have over their National Guard, an attempt to address the situation that left the DC Mayor incapable Quickly dispatch members of the guard to the Capitol on January 6 when rioters attacked the building.