House votes to begin defense policy bill negotiations with Senate

By Tony Bertuca / September 19, 2023 at 3:21 PM

The House voted 393-27 today to begin conference negotiations with the Senate over the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization bill.

The House version of the bill, which barely passed in July by a 219-210 vote, is opposed by Democrats because it contains “culture war” provisions targeting diversity initiatives, climate change mitigation and the Pentagon’s leave and travel policy for servicemembers seeking abortion.

The massive defense policy bill was passed out of the House Armed Services Committee by a vote of 58-1 but was amended to include the politically controversial provisions sought by GOP conservatives.

The Senate, meanwhile, passed a version of the bill by a vote of 86-11.

The House bill authorizes -- but doesn't appropriate -- $886 billion in total national defense funding as sought by the Biden administration.

Congress has passed the defense authorization bill for more than 60 consecutive years and it is considered one of the most reliable pieces of legislation in Washington.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are embroiled in a chaotic fight over federal spending that could lead to a government shutdown on Oct. 1.