Senate lawmakers file defense authorization bill amid House debate

By Tony Bertuca / September 22, 2021 at 1:30 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee has filed a fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill to be considered on the Senate floor, while the House began debating its version of the bill last night.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), the committee chairman, said the bill, which authorizes $25 billion more than the White House requested, is “bipartisan legislation” focused on “efforts to strengthen our cyber defenses, improve readiness, and accelerate the research and development of advanced technologies.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the committee’s ranking member, said the defense authorization bill is the most important piece of legislation passed by Congress.

“Today we are one step closer to enacting the annual National Defense Authorization Act -- something Congress has done every year for the last 60 years in a row,” he said. “While I don’t support every provision in this bill, all senators will have the opportunity to improve it through an open floor process -- which I hope will begin in short order.”

The bill authorizes nearly $778 billion in total national defense spending, with $740 billion for the Defense Department, $27.7 billion for the Energy Department and nearly $10 billion for defense-related activities at other agencies technically outside the committee’s jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, the House began the debate for its version of the defense authorization bill last night. Lawmakers are considering 476 amendments that have been approved for votes by the Rules Committee.

The topline of the House bill is also $25 billion larger than the White House has requested.

Watch Inside Defense for further, in-depth coverage of both bills.