WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a major bill to fund the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2023, preparing for a final vote in the Senate in the coming days that will move a whopping $858 billion in funding. dollars to President Joe Biden’s desk, where he is expected to sign it.
The bill passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives with a strong bipartisan majority, 350 votes in favor to 80 votes against.
Among the more than 4,000 pages of legislation requires the Pentagon to drop its mandate to vaccinate active-duty service members within 30 days of its enactment.
The mandate, originally introduced last year, has recently emerged as a lightning rod for conservative Republicans, who threatened to engulf the entire bill if it was not repealed.
The National Defense Authorization Act (or NDAA) was enacted Tuesday night, after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations.
Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have both publicly said they oppose the provision to terminate the vaccination mandate.
But the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, a Democrat, Representative Adam Smith of Washington, told the House of Representatives on Thursday that it was the right time to end the vaccination requirement. His comments were seen as a strong signal that the White House would support the final bill.
Biden’s Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre would not confirm or deny Wednesday that Biden will sign the bill, instead telling reporters that Biden will “review the entire NDAA and issue a verdict.” mine about it.”
The House of Representatives was originally scheduled to vote on the bill Wednesday afternoon. But its procedural route through the Rules Committee has stalled after members of the Black Caucus of Congress sought to force the inclusion of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act into the bill.
The NDAA is an annual tradition in Congress, where it is considered a “must pass” bill because its enactment is required for military service members to receive their salaries and benefits on time. January 1, 2023.