Brendan McDermid | Reuters
President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 18, 2017.
The Senate passed a roughly $692 billion National Defense Authorization Act on Monday but failed to include an amendment that would have eliminated the automatic spending cuts under the controversial sequester mechanism.
The NDAA, which sets forth the Pentagon’s budget and major programs for the next fiscal year, does authorize an additional $8.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency to strengthen homeland, regional and space missile defense. That authorization is $630 million above the Trump administration’s request.
The vote was still being tallied but it only requires a simple majority to pass the Senate, which it has already achieved.
The 2018 national defense bill also authorizes just over $141 billion for military personnel costs, including costs of pay, bonuses, benefits and moving expenses as well as provides a 2.1 percent increase in pay for troops. The legislation also includes money to increase troop end strength in numbers above the White House’s request, adding thousands of new members to the Army and Marine Corps as well as boosting reserve totals.
In all, more than 300 amendments were proposed for the Senate’s NDAA.
The House passed its version of the 2018 defense authorization bill (or H.R. 2810) in July, so Monday’s passage means the House-Senate conference committee will need to resolve differences before sending the legislation to President Donald Trump.
However, the Senate failed to vote on repealing the controversial sequestration in Monday’s session due to a lack of quorum. Some Republicans charged it was hampered by dealmaking Democrats plan to use later on the overall budget.
Also failing to be included was an amendment that would have slowed Trump’s ban on transgenders serving in the military.
“Whenever a Democratic senator says they are worried about the state of our military, that they are horrified at the kind of cuts that we’re making, that they can’t sleep at night because of what we’re doing to troops in the field — don’t believe them,” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said Monday on the Senate floor when there was an insufficient quorum to take up the sequestration repeal measure.