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House passes massive defense bill in spite of FISA objections

Bill Headed to President’s Desk

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The annual defense policy bill, after extensive deliberations and negotiations, is finally on its way to the President. The passage of this bill comes just before Congress breaks for the holiday season, marking the end of a busy legislative year.

Conservative Objections and House Vote

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House conservatives raised objections over the bill’s exclusion of certain provisions and the inclusion of a FISA Section 702 extension. Despite a motion to adjourn by Rep. Chip Roy, the House proceeded to adopt the bill with a significant majority.

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Comprehensive Spending Authorization

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The bill authorizes nearly $1 trillion in defense spending, reflecting the culmination of extensive legislative efforts. This process involved thousands of hours of hearings and discussions, emphasizing the bill’s complexity and significance.

NDAA’s Financial Breakdown

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The $886.3 billion NDAA allocates $841.5 billion to the Department of Defense, funds for the National Nuclear Security Administration, and additional allocations for other federal agencies. This represents a notable increase from the previous fiscal year.

Key Provisions in the NDAA

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Service members will receive a 5.2 percent pay raise, and the bill includes initiatives like the AUKUS pact, strategies to counter global threats, and investments in advanced technologies such as AI and hypersonics.

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Legislative Journey of the NDAA

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Both the House and Senate adopted their respective defense budgets by July, with a conference committee reconciling differences over two months. The final draft and report, spanning thousands of pages, were submitted to the Senate in early December.

Status of Annual Appropriations Bills

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The NDAA is one of twelve annual appropriations bills forming the nation’s budget. With only four adopted so far, the federal government is largely operating under resolutions that maintain fiscal 2023 levels.

Controversy Over FISA Extension

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Rep. Chip Roy objected to the inclusion of the FISA Section 702 extension in the NDAA, arguing for a separate debate. He criticized its addition as a last-minute insertion not originally in the proposed budgets.

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FISA’s Impact and Criticisms

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FISA, according to Mr. Roy, is used to spy on Americans, and the current extension effectively lengthens the authorization period. This inclusion faced criticism for its potential impact on citizens’ privacy and rights.

Congressional Responses to FISA

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While some representatives, like Rep. Matt Rosendale, opposed the defense budget due to the FISA extension, others saw it as a minor concession. The debate highlighted the differing views on national security and civil liberties.

Defense Budget as a Compromise

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House Armed Services Committee Chair Mike Rogers emphasized the need for compromise in a divided government. The NDAA, while not fulfilling everyone’s wishes, is seen as essential for national security and military operations.

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Detailed Allocations in the NDAA

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The bill specifies detailed allocations for various branches of the military, including the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army. These allocations cover everything from personnel to key programs and defense equipment.

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