On Friday, the House overwhelmingly passed the national defense bill for fiscal year 2017 in a bipartisan vote of 375-34. Negotiations between the House and Senate Armed Services Committees for the complete legislation for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was announced to be finalized on Wednesday in a conference report. The NDAA supports a budget of $619 billion for national defense spending as well as another $5.8 billion to supplement operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Europe. The bill also supports a wage increase above 2% for military forces, something service members have not seen in years.
“This bipartisan bill focuses on our troops, America’s most important national defense resource,” Rep. Thornberry, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement on Friday. “It provides them a full pay raise for the first time in four years, it stops layoffs of our military personnel and actually increases the end strength of our Armed Forces, and it starts to stabilize the readiness problems that are making it more difficult for our troops to accomplish their mission and increasingly represents a danger to their lives. It contains landmark reforms to improve our military’s strength and agility.”
A handful of Congressmen quickly took to Twitter following the passing of the bill to disclose their excitement over the results of the vote:
“I am tremendously proud of this NDAA, which provides our troops with the largest pay raise since 2010, begins to reverse the dangerous drawdown of the Army and Marine Corps, boosts investments in rebuilding readiness, firmly establishes innovation as a primary mission of the Department of Defense, and delivers bold reforms on defense acquisition, military healthcare, military justice, and security cooperation,” Sen. McCain said in a statement after the bill was finalized on Wednesday. “Thanks to these provisions and many more, the NDAA will enable our troops to rise to the challenges of a more dangerous world.”
The $619 billion approved in the NDAA for discretionary spending is $3.2 billion dollars more than what President Obama had requested. It is unclear whether President Obama plans to sign the bill if the Senate moves on to pass it as well. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday that the Administration had yet to read the text of the policy so he could not make any clear cut statements on the decision.
“We haven’t seen the text of it, but you know, we’ll obviously review it,” Earnest said. “That may take a little time, but once we’ve reached a conclusion about whether or not the president will sign it, we’ll let you know.”
The NDAA supports a 2.1% increase in military wage pay, which is the minimum required by law. President Obama has signed a waiver lowering the wage hikes to well under 2% for the past few years, saying that budgets did not allow for such a large increase.