By Allison Kirschbaum

The House Appropriations Committee has agreed to release a budget of $833 billion for the fiscal year 2025 Defense Appropriations Act. Most Republicans even blocked the suggestion to restore funds for Ukraine but approved a modification prohibiting further funds for the Gaza pier. The committee had a vote of 34-25 to push the bill forward, with division along party lines. Democrats opposed some of the list that would restrict gender-affirming health care and access to abortion while stopping funds for diversity and climate change endeavors. The House's version of the National Defense Appropriation Act adheres to the budget caps laid out in last year's mutual agreement on the debt limit but shifted $18 billion in funds from the spending plan of President Joe Biden.

The National Defense Appropriation Act 2025

This year, the budget for the Defense Appropriations Act is 1% above the FY 2024 budget, which allows the Pentagon to refocus its primary missions: ensuring national security and providing combat-ready forces for war prevention. It stops financing divisive social agendas and endeavors that do not align with the Department’s primary purpose.

The bill even rejects the $18 billion fund included in the President’s Budget Request due to the continued oversight of program execution over the Department of Defense.

Instead, its goals have been redirected to counter the activities of the People’s Republic of China and its near-peer adversaries, enhancing the DOD’s goals to combat illegal drugs, foster innovation, and support the service members and their families.

Debates Surrounding the Defense Appropriations Act

Representative Mike Quigley's amendment to add back $300 million in aid to Ukraine under the National Defense Appropriation Act was defeated with 32-25 votes. Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro mentioned that reducing the assistance might be bad for American allies as it reduces credibility in their eyes. She also noted that the bulk of the funding usually goes to weaponry built by U.S. manufacturers and sent to them or used as a restock for the country that can be used once needed.

Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum received an avoidance from the House of Republicans about her amendment that would stop the conventional political riders on abortion, climate change, and LGBTQ issues that have been labeled a "poison pill." However, the Democrats achieved one victory: defeating an amendment to the restoration of a Confederate monument to Arlington National Cemetery.

Rep. Ken Calvert is concerned that the funding limit constraints the House Appropriations Committee's budget and can further reduce procurement and development funding needed to modernize the military under the Defense Appropriations Act for FY2025. He even lashed out at the House Armed Services Committee and attacked the House appropriators' decision not to get a second Virginia-class submarine.

The Defense Appropriations Act will move to the House floor despite the debates and disagreements; however, it will have to face the unreleased version of the legislation by the Democrat-led Senate Appropriations Committee.

Important Key Points of the Defense Appropriations Act

It will allocate $200 million to Taiwan's international security cooperation programs. This will also stop the premature retirement of three ships and retain the U-2 and F-15s, rejecting Biden's naval and air force divestment plans. The Defense Appropriations Act will also allow an increased budget for 5th and 6th-generation aircraft and support the Pacific Deterrence Initiative to enhance the military's capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region.

It also promotes modernization and innovation for the military, guaranteeing the production and use of advanced emerging technologies, such as investing in cutting-edge helicopters, fighter aircraft, submarines, and tactical combat vehicles. Aside from technology, it supports service members, such as the 4.5% pay raise and 15% pay increase for junior enlisted service members.

The Defense Appropriations Act will also support the Pentagon's civilian workforce by cutting around $916 million from the President's Budget Request. It will ensure that the Department has enough staffing for areas directly serving the warfighter. The act aims to allocate a budget for the DOD's role in countering illegal fentanyl and synthetic opioids. This will be achieved by a $1.14 billion budget for drug interdiction and counterdrug activities.

The National Defense Appropriation Act had an increased budget, but many projects are associated with it. Top Senate appropriators have displayed interest in breaking the spending caps for the defense budget. Plus, the more conservative provisions incorporated in the House committee bill are sure to be resisted by the democratic leadership.

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