House lawmakers have passed the fiscal year 2019 defense authorization conference bill by a 359-54 vote.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said in a statement that the legislation "takes a major step toward rebuilding our military, reforming the Pentagon, and better preparing this nation for the national security challenges of today and tomorrow.
"The bill takes actions directly related to the aggressive behavior of Russia and China," he continued. "By implementing the new National Defense Strategy in this bill, America will be better prepared against threats from these and other countries over the long term."
Thornberry warned, however, that "much of the advantage that these measures give our military will be lost" if lawmakers fail to follow passing the policy bill with an appropriations bill "that is both adequate and on time." He noted this was the earliest his chamber had acted on the authorization bill "in many years. There is no reason that Congress should not be able to take up and pass the defense spending bill before the end of the fiscal year so that Congress can keep faith with our troops and fully fund the military when we return in September."
The legislation awaits passage by the Senate and subsequent signing by the president.