June 20, 2024

By Alex Gault


WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted on Friday to pass the annual national defense bill with a raft of controversial, conservative-led language that’s likely to face fierce opposition from the Democrat-led Senate and President Joe Biden.

The bill, with a $883.7 billion price tag, passed largely along party lines in a vote Friday, 217-199. The north country’s Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville and Claudia L. Tenney, R-Cleveland, voted to support the bill.

That price tag is lower than the Senate version’s $923.3 billion, which has not yet seen a floor vote, according to an executive summary released by the Senate Armed Services Committee.


The House version includes a number of conservative-led parts that are likely to face opposition as the House and Senate bring their two bill versions into agreement for final passage.

One section would block a current policy that provides reimbursements to U.S. servicemembers who go out of state for an abortion procedure, should they be stationed in a state that bars or significantly restricts the procedure.

Another section would block the use of U.S. funds to provide gender-affirming care to transgender servicemembers, and another would block the continued operation of diversity, equity and inclusion programs in the military.

Such measures are unlikely to be included in the Senate bill, and Biden has threatened to veto other military legislation that has included similar conservative language.

The House bill also passed with an amendment that establishes automatic selective service registry for men aged 18 to 26 — an issue that’s likely to see more bipartisan consideration than the conservative-led policies.


Rep. Stefanik, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and voted earlier last week to advance a House NDAA bill that did not yet include many of the more conservative policy proposals, said at the time that she was proud to vote to advance the bill for a number of reasons.

“This national defense bill which prioritizes emerging technology investment in Upstate New York, provides for our military families, and cuts through bureaucracy to equip our warfighters, has never been more important,” she said. “I am proud to advance a defense bill that puts U.S. taxpayer dollars to good use by strengthening our military and supporting our service members.”

Stefanik lauded the fact that the bill renews the congressional mandate that the Department of Defense pursue the construction of a third missile defense site at Fort Drum, and sets a timeline that would require significant progress on that by 2030, and includes a number of other specifics that would boost Army operations at Fort Drum.

It would also pursue a number of other investments at nearby military operations centers, including the Air Force research site in Rome, Oneida County, and the Air National Guard based in Scotia, Oswego County.

This version of the NDAA as passed by the House would streamline loan forgiveness programs for U.S. servicemembers, and authorizes a limited pay increase of 15 to 19.5% for junior enlisted servicemembers, as well as a 4.5% base pay raise for other servicemembers.

It would also establish a pilot program for maternal mental health treatment and prevention among servicemembers and their spouses, and starts a study on provider shortages in DOD-operated maternal clinics.

Stefanik also voted to pass the amended bill with Rep. Tenney on Friday, but did not issue a statement regarding the changes to the bill.