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National Security & Defense

House Democrats Overcome Internal Fissures to Approve Defense-Spending Bill

(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

In a 220–197 vote, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act on Friday, giving a win to Democratic leaders who’d spent months coaxing progressives to vote for the defense-funding package.

Progressive lawmakers had expressed distaste for the high price tag of the $733 billion measure and argued unsuccessfully for imposing stricter guidelines regarding the treatment of migrants at the southern border. Despite those progressive objections, House Armed Services Committee chairman Adam Smith and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn convinced all but eight Democrats not to vote against the House measure, after the inclusion of a number of progressive amendments.

Before the bill’s passage on Friday, the House approved an amendment requiring congressional approval for military strikes on Iran amid rising tensions with the country. It also approved amendments repealing the 2001 authorization for the use of military force, removing the Trump administration’s ban on transgender service-members, stopping emergency arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and ending U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

The measure’s passage sets up a conflict between House Democrats and the Republican Senate, which passed a $750 billion dollar defense budget backed by the White House last month.

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