With the end of the year fast approaching, Congress is scrambling to wrap up all of its normal business — and that includes passing a bill to fund the nation’s military.
The Senate initially passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Wednesday by a landslide 89–10 vote, but Democrat Sen. Cory Booker changed his “yea” to a “nay” before the final tally was taken.
With that, the upper chamber still passed the annual spending bill in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion, with 88 senators voting in favor of the $768 billion package, according to CBS News.
The measure is now headed to President Joe Biden’s desk for a signature.
Here’s what made the final cut
According to Axios, key provisions written into the 2022 NDAA include a 2.7% pay raise for military personnel and the addition of 12 weeks of parental leave for all U.S. service members.
The bill also establishes a special commission to investigate how the Afghanistan War was conducted and ended, and provides $300 million in defense assistance to Ukraine.
Arguably the biggest inclusion, however, is a major overhaul of how the military investigates and prosecutes crimes like sexual assault and harassment. The measure creates a special independent prosecutor to investigate such claims, but doesn’t completely remove unit commanders from the justice process.
Some Democrats, including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, have said the bill doesn’t go far enough in this regard. She was among the less than a dozen “no” votes on the bill, arguing that independent prosecutors should handle the sensitive allegations from start to finish, as The Hill reported.
Here’s what was missing
For all that was included in the NDAA, it is perhaps more noteworthy what didn’t make the final cut. According to Axios, that includes a repeal of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for Iraq, which would have seen certain war powers returned to Congress from the executive branch.
Also nixed from the final bill was a provision to require women to register for the military draft, as well as proposed sanctions against the owners and operators of Russia’s new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany — which Biden has granted his approval of after it was blocked for years by former President Donald Trump.
Some say the bill also failed to sufficiently punish China and its communist government for its role in what The Hill describes as a “genocide against the predominately Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority.”
“The United States is so reliant on China that we have turned a blind eye to the slave labor that makes our clothes, our solar panels, and much more,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said, according to The Hill. “It is time to end our economic addiction to China.”