FederalTaxes & SpendingMost Texas Republicans in U.S. House Vote for Annual Defense Bill After Removal of Controversial Provisions

In a 363 to 70 vote, House members approved a $778 billion defense spending bill that now moves to the upper chamber.
December 8, 2021
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The U.S. House of Representatives approved a revised version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Tuesday evening in a 363 to 70 vote with only four members from Texas voting against the measure: Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35), Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01), Al Green (D-TX-09), and Chip Roy (R-TX-21).

Approval is still needed from the Senate, but the text of the likely final version was released jointly by the two key committees in each chamber.

An earlier version of the NDAA was passed by the House in September by a narrower margin, with many more Republicans from Texas voting against the bill.

It contained several controversial provisions, including adding women to the draft and a new “red flag” program as a system to confiscate firearms from military members.

Those measures met opposition by several House and Senate Republicans and were stripped during negotiations.

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“The FY22 NDAA includes absolutely NO infringement on the Second Amendment or so-called ‘red flag’ laws, does not draft our daughters, and blocks the Biden Administration from forcing our troops to take classes on extremism,” said Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX-11) in a statement. “I praise Ranking Member Mike Rogers and my Republican colleagues on the committee for their diligent work to remove these liberal poison pills and deliver a win for our military.”

The legislation authorizes a total of $778 billion in spending, roughly $25 billion above the amount requested by the Biden administration.

Some foreign policy aspects that the legislation touches on include requiring a report on U.S. property and military equipment that was left in Afghanistan after the haphazard withdrawal, requiring the president to develop a “grand strategy with respect to China,” and providing $300 million in assistance to Ukraine.

With respect to the military COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the NDAA would allow the Biden administration’s requirement in place. However, any discharges since August 24, 2021 through two years after the enactment of the NDAA would be an honorable discharge or “a general discharge under honorable conditions” instead of a dishonorable discharge.

The Secretary of Defense would establish uniform standards for exemptions from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

While Roy, one of the few Texans to vote against the bill, expressed gratitude to Republican members to prohibit dishonorable discharges for refusing the vaccine, he criticized that it would “continue to allow the termination of service members’ careers over what should be a private medical decision not to take the over-politicized COVID-19 vaccine.”

He also said that he was “extremely grateful” for the removal of some of the bill’s controversial opinions like the changes to the draft, but contended that the bill “fails to hold the Pentagon accountable in any meaningful way for the disaster in Afghanistan” and continues to advance progressive policies related to “gender identity” programs, “CRT and diversity officers,” and “climate literacy trainings.”

“I cannot and will not in good conscience rubber stamp an NDAA that is 2100 pages long, that I’ve had less than a day to review, and that contains so many provisions unrelated, or even contrary, to our national defense,” said Roy. “Our service members deserve better, and so does the republic they defend.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX-10), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, praised the NDAA as something that will help “ensure our military has the tools it needs to confront the generational threat posed by the CCP, as well as the threats posed by authoritarian governments like Iran, Russia and North Korea.”

However, McCaul said that he was disappointed that an amendment to enact sanctions related to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was not added.

The pipeline, which is almost completed, runs from Russia to Germany and is strongly supported by both countries, but is viewed as a tool that will strengthen Russia’s grasp over Ukraine.

To the consternation of some congressmen including McCaul and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has been a vocal opponent of the pipeline, the Biden administration removed economic sanctions on the project.

McCaul says that his amendment to the NDAA that would place sanctions on companies involved in the pipeline’s construction was “removed by Democrats at the request of the White House.”

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said during a press conference on Tuesday that the Nord Stream 2 “is leverage for the West, because if Vladimir Putin wants to see gas flow through that pipeline, he may not want to take the risk of invading Ukraine.”

In contrast, McCaul argues that to “remove this bipartisan amendment at a time when Russia is amassing troops on Ukraine’s border sends a dangerous message to Putin and to our adversaries that America is weak.”

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.