Dec 14, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Conservatives slam defense spending bill after bipartisan passage

Rep. Chip Roy. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

House conservatives are blasting both the negotiation process and the contents of the bill following the passage of the sprawling National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Thursday.

Why it matters: More Democrats voted for the bill than Republicans, despite the GOP controlling the House.

  • "I'm severely disappointed that Members in both parties and both chambers rashly supported the harmful policies and FISA reauthorization in this year's NDAA in order to get home early for Christmas," Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) posted on X.
  • Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) said on social media: "As if the DEI trainings and funding for drag shows wasn't enough, today's NDAA also contains $600 MILLION for Ukraine and not a dime for our southern border."

Zoom in: Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) unsuccessfully forced a motion to adjourn the House in an attempt to block it from coming to the floor.

  • Members of the House Freedom Caucus' internal talking points went as far as likening Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) over his handling of the bill.

The other side: GOP proponents of the bill argued that it provides a historic 5.2% pay raise to the troops and shot down accusations it lacks Republican wins.

  • "House Republicans secured important victories by reining in harmful Biden Administration policies, such as taxpayer funded censorship of conservative media, Critical Race Theory in the military and its schools, and Pentagon DEI bureaucracy," Speaker Johnson said in a statement.
  • "The FY24 NDAA provides our military with the vital authorities, resources, and capabilities that our warfighters need to stay ahead of our adversaries. The FY24 NDAA supports our servicemembers, guts Biden's woke agenda, deters China, and strengthens our military," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said in a statement.

The big picture: The House has a busy schedule upon their return from Congress' holiday recess in January, with deadlines on polarizing issues including government funding and FISA approaching.

Both conservative members and outside groups are ramping up pressure on Johnson to take to shift gears.

  • "Mike Johnson still has potential but 'suspending the rules' with Dems for a second time on a big bill to pass an NDAA that maintains our woke military & extends government spying on Americans for another year is spectacularly beyond the pale & pure cartel governance. His coalition with Hakeem Jeffries must end," former OMB Director Russ Vought posted on X following the vote.

The bottom line: House Republicans will be working with an even narrower majority in 2024 with the exit of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) slated to step down from his seat early.

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