What is the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Bill?

What is the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Bill?

Congress’ to-do list before the new year is chock-full of important items, and near the top is passing the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA.

Put simply, the NDAA authorizes Congress to fund our national defense. Each year, it’s one of the most expensive bills passed by the House and Senate, with the final version of this year’s bill totaling more than $858 billion.

Despite the price tag, the NDAA is historically one of the most bipartisan bills Congress passes – no matter the partisanship on display in Washington, Republicans and Democrats have been able to come together and ensure our troops have the resources they need.

This year could be different, and for the first time in more than six decades, Congress could fail to fund our military, not only creating major national security risks, but also marking a new low in congressional gridlock.

At issue are a number of provisions that Republicans and Democrats have quarreled over including in the final version of the legislation.

Some Democrats have pushed to include non-defense items in the legislation, including antitrust reforms and banking policies that could benefit marijuana businesses. Some Republicans took issue with a COVID vaccine mandate for troops and others called for pausing a vote on the NDAA until the GOP takes control of the House in January.

Fortunately, this week leaders of the Armed Services Committees in the House and Senate announced they finally reached a compromise agreement that they believe can pass with bipartisan support in both chambers.

The House is expected to pass the NDAA by the end of the week, and the Senate is likely to follow suit early next week, sending it to President Biden’s desk for his signature.