Senate passes defense policy bill

By Tony Bertuca / December 15, 2022 at 8:47 PM

The Senate voted 83-11 to pass the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The topline of the 4,400-page bill supports $858 billion in national defense spending, which is $45 billion above the amount Biden initially requested.

The bill also requires the Pentagon to rescind the mandate that members of the armed forces be vaccinated against COVID-19. The White House has said it is disappointed with the vaccine rollback but has not threatened to veto the bill, which also serves as a vehicle for several other key pieces of legislation including bills to increase U.S. defense assistance to Taiwan, authorize policy and toplines for the State Department and intelligence community, and more.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) released a statement touting the bill’s key investments.

“This bipartisan bill strengthens national security by ensuring our military has the resources it needs to defend our nation, deter conflict, and meet a range of evolving security challenges,” he said. “This year’s [bill] includes targeted investments, needed reforms, and enhanced oversight. It addresses a broad range of pressing issues, from strategic competition with China and Russia, to disruptive technologies like hypersonics, AI, and quantum computing, to modernizing our ships, aircraft, and other equipment.”

The bill is named in honor of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who is retiring at the end of the year. Inhofe, in a statement, praised the bill’s strong bipartisan passage.

“This is the most important bill we do every year, and the overwhelming majority of my colleagues agree -- that’s why it has become law for 61 years in a row, and this year we are one step closer to the 62nd year,” he said.