The rush of events this week prevented me from doing a preview, so here’s a wrap up.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House passed the conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 377-48. Six Republicans voted no—Ken Buck (CO-04), Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Thomas Massie (KY-04), Tom McClintock (CA-04), and Tom Rice (SC-07). Independent Justin Amash (MI-03) also voted no.
The act contained a dangerous provision extending the definition of “classified operatives,” thus limiting the ability of citizens (and even elected officials) to learn information the government does not want us to know. You can read more about that provision here.
The NDAA authorizes “base” funding of $658.4 billion, along with $71.5 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, and $5.3 billion of emergency disaster recovery for a total of $735.2 billion.
The bill fans the flames of “Cold War 2” by providing $734.3 million for “urgent priorities” to deter Russia, $300 million for the Ukraine Security Initiative, and imposes sanctions on European countries who use a Russian pipeline.
The bill also adds Pacific Islands to the Indo-Pacific Maritime Initiative, expresses the sense of Congress in support of the people of Hong Kong, and commits to improving Taiwan’s defense. It also reaffirms the mutual defense treaty with the Philippines.
The bill also prohibits the Secretary of Defense from reducing the number of troops in South Korea below 28,500.
The bill also reaffirms support for NATO and authorizes $2.3 billion for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. It also prohibits the use of funds to withdraw from NATO.
The bill also establishes a space force.
The House also voted on H.R. 3, the Democrats' prescription drug plan that imposes price controls and empowers the federal government to deny access to prescription drugs. The bill also extends Medicare coverage to vision, dental, and hearing benefits. You can read more details of the bill here.
H.R. 3 passed by a vote of 230-192. Two Republicans—Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA-03) voted with every Democrat to pass the bill. You can see the vote here.
The House also passed H.R. 729, which combines several bills expanding federal power over coastal communities in the name of environmental protection. You can see that vote here.
The House also considered H.R. 5038 which makes it easier for migrants to perform farm labor. Some of the provisions in the bill were controversial because they would benefit farm laborers who entered the country illegally. You can see that vote here.
The House also considered bills under suspension, including:
H.R. 3669—Requires the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a collective response to a terrorism exercise that includes the management of cascading effects on critical infrastructure during times of extreme cold weather.
H.R. 3318—Establishes a task force to examine threats to transportation security and make recommendations on how to address major threats.
H.R. 4402—Requires Homeland Security to prepare a report for Congress on threats to inland water safety and how the department is responding to those threats.
H.R. 3469—Requires the Transportation Department to carry out covert testing of action security and risk mitigation.
H.R. 4566— Clarifies that all donations and gifts to victims of last year’s Virginia Beach shooting are tax-deductible.
All these bills passed by voice vote.