The Senate on Thursday passed it’s $740 billion fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill, which followed two days of debate including striking down a call to cut the budget by 10 percent and adding a measure to bolster the domestic microelectronics supply chain.

Both the Senate and House version of the next National Defense Authorization Act have been approved by a veto-proof majority, following a White House threat to veto the final bill over provisions such as renaming bases named after Confederate leaders.

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

Lawmakers voted 86 to 14 on the bill, with four Republicans and nine Democrats plus Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), voting against the legislation. 

The Senate’s NDAA includes authorizing over $9 billion for 95 F-35s, prohibits Air Force from retiring 44 A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft, $21.3 billion for Navy shipbuilding and sets up debate with the House over funding levels for the Virginia-class submarine program.

Differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill will be hashed out soon in conference by defense committee leadership and select lawmakers. 

Sanders on Wednesday introduced an amendment to reduce DoD’s budget by 10 percent and redirect the funds toward community programs, with the Senate ultimately voting down the measure 23 to 77.

“In my view, given all of the unprecedented crises our country faces, now is not the time to increase the Pentagon’s bloated $740 billion budget, which is 53% of all discretionary spending in America,” Sanders said. “At a time when 28 million Americans are in danger of being evicted from their homes, now is not the time to be spending more on the military than the next 11 nations combined.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the amendment would “literally decimate the defense budget,” and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) added the move would “blindly cut defense spending, taking a hatchet to the already agreed upon bipartisan budget [agreement].”

A similar measure introduced by Rep. Mark Pocan (R-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was defeated 93 to 324 on Tuesday ahead of the House passing its version of the NDAA (Defense Daily, July 21). 

The Senate did overwhelmingly adopt a bipartisan measure, by a vote of 94 to 6, to increase federal incentives to “enable advanced research and development, secure the supply chain, and ensure long-term national security and economic competitiveness” in the semiconductor and microelectronics market.

“The United States invented the technology and still leads in the research and development, but the manufacturing of the product itself has steadily migrated to Asia. Over time not only the manufacturing expertise and capacity is lost but also the science and engineering necessary to invent the next-generation of products,” Sen Jack Reed (D-R.I.), ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, said in support of the amendment.

The amendment is part of a growing push to bolster the domestic microelectronics supply chain, with the Pentagon’s top acquisition official recently detailing plans for new initiatives to reshore manufacturing capacity (Defense Daily, July 16). 

The Senate’s bill also calls for the Army to assess its integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) portfolio and also includes a range of cyber provisions, such as requiring the Department of Homeland Security to establish federally funded cyber security coordinators in each state.