Several top House Republicans on Monday predicted the chamber’s version of the next National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will receive strong GOP support during floor consideration this week, while progressive lawmakers are looking to roll back the bill’s nearly $25 billion topline increase.

“So long as this bill remains largely in its current form and the funding levels remain where they are, I think you’ll see overwhelming support from Republicans,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the House Rules Committee ranking member, said during the panel’s meeting to consider NDAA amendments that will be approved for floor debate.

Low angled view of the U.S. Capitol East Facade Front in Washington, D.C.

The House Armed Services Committee advanced its NDAA out of committee with a 57-2 vote on Sept. 2, with the full chamber set to consider the bill this week that will likely feature floor debate over measures related to the topline level (Defense Daily, Sept. 2). 

HASC’s version of the FY ‘22 NDAA included an amendment from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the panel’s top Republican, to boost the topline by $23.9 billion, with the additional spending covering the full range of DoD’s unfunded priorities submitted to Congress as well as 200 member priorities not included in the underlying bill. HASC approved the measure with a bipartisan 42-17 vote. 

“Unfortunately, the president’s proposed budget was a $4 billion cut. But, in a bipartisan fashion, we recognized that was insufficient for us to meet the needs and we came together with what is effectively a $23.9 billion increase in this bill,” Rogers said during the House Rules Meeting on Monday. “This is a really good product that I’m optimistic that we can pass on the floor as long as we keep superfluous items off of it that make it contentious, because it’s not contentious right now.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) detailed her amendment during the House Rules meeting that would look to reverse HASC’s $23.9 billion topline boost and restore the NDAA topline back to the president’s requested funding level. 

“The amendment cuts from this year’s [NDAA] egregious Pentagon budget increases that were added during the committee markup,” Lee said. “The president’s fiscal year 2022 request [for defense was] the largest in American history. For years now, the United States has been peerless in its military spending, exceeding the total spending of the next 11 countries combined. And yet, Congress insists on piling more money into the Pentagon than our military leaders really asked for.”

Lee’s amendment, which is also led by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), points to progressives’ effort to push back on defense spending increases during this week’s floor debate, with the lawmakers also looking to put forward a separate measure that would also look to cut the Pentagon’s overall budget by 10 percent. 

Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the House Rules and HASC chairs, respectively, both noted their opposition to increasing the NDAA topline while signaling that there’s likely enough bipartisan support to block any effort to reduce defense spending.

“From my vantage point, I think we spend too much on our military budget but I’m clearly in the minority after listening to everybody here speak today,” McGovern said.

Smith added that he supported the original $715 billion topline for the Pentagon requested by the Biden administration, while noting HASC’s push for a spending boost is likely to receive similar support on the floor. 

“I want to make it clear, I supported the Biden budget level and I continue to support that. I know you have an amendment before you that would take us back to the Biden budget level. That’s what I support. I lost the vote in committee. There are other members who feel differently, and I think that’s sort of reflective of this bill,” Smith said. “But I do agree, I think that the Pentagon can get by on less money than is reflected here and I think the Biden budget was right. But I do believe in democracy. We had a vote and I lost, and I support the bill for all the reasons that we heard about today.” 

The House Rules Committee was still considering NDAA amendments to make for floor consideration this week as of Defense Daily’s deadline.