After longer-than-expected procedural delays, legislation setting the Pentagon budget and Department of Defense policy for the coming year seems finally headed toward passage.
The National Defense Authorization Act passed in the House Tuesday evening with overwhelming bipartisan support, 363-70. All Oklahoma members voted ‘yea.’ The bill now awaits action in the Senate.
The 2022 NDAA totals out at $777 billion, with DoD getting $740 billion, an increase of $25 billion over what President Biden had proposed in his budget.
“The president clearly does not have defending America as a priority,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Sen. Inhofe helped craft the bill’s final version and says there are many reasons he’s pleased with it, including a 2.7 percent pay raise for both military service members and the DoD civilian workforce. But he says the most important thing to him is that it will keep the U.S. military on pace with its adversaries.
“The priorities are trying to put ourselves in a position where we can get ahead of Russia and China in every area,” Inhofe said in an interview Wednesday, “and we are not ahead of them now—people don’t understand that.”
Inhofe says the bill that should soon go to the President’s desk is significantly improved over what was on the table just three months ago.
Oklahoman Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (R-OK5) is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and agrees with Inhofe. She notes the addition of a measure to have an independent review of the nation’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and removal of a red flag law as positive changes.
Bice had joined more than 160 other House colleagues in sending a letter to leadership requesting the red flag measure be dropped, citing what they say would have been an infringement on a service member’s Second Amendment rights.
“It was important that we continue to protect Second Amendment rights,” Rep. Bice said in an interview Wednesday, “so that red flag law—that was taken out.”
It’s not clear yet when the bill will be brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote, but when it is, both lawmakers are confident it will pass, meaning 61 consecutive years Congress will have passed the NDAA.
“And I just think it goes to show that we can work across the aisle to do what’s right for the country,” Bice said.