The House on Wednesday, Dec. 12, passed its annual defense policy measure, which combined a $738 billion Pentagon price tag with legislation to provide federal employees with 12 weeks of paid parental leave, according to The Associated Press.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed in a 377-48 vote, with 41 Democrats and 6 Republicans voting “no,” according to the Hill.
President Trump said that he will sign the bill, which is expected to pass the Senate next week at the latest.
“Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA: Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force! Congress – don’t delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!” President Trump tweeted.
Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA: Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force! Congress – don’t delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2019
White House also welcomes the news “Thanks to President @realDonaldTrump‘s leadership in establishing space as a warfighting domain, the United States will dominate in that environment just like all others.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 11, 2019
The compromise between the Democratic-controlled House and the GOP-held Senate broke free after Republicans agreed to accept a Democratic demand—endorsed by Trump in end-stage negotiations—for the landmark parental leave provision. Negotiators also endorsed Trump’s call for a new space force—a provision previously backed by the House on a bipartisan basis, according to The Associated Press.
Democrats dropped a provision to block Trump from transferring money from Pentagon accounts to constructing a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. They also dropped protections for transgender troops, and tougher regulations on toxic chemicals that are found in firefighting foam used at military installations.
Democrats also agreed to let go of House-passed provisions to restrict Trump from waging war against Iran unless Congress approves; ban deployment of new submarine-launched, low-yield nuclear weapons; and ban U.S. military assistance for strikes by Saudi-led forces in Yemen, The Associated Press reported.
Democrats secured a major win in the bill by including a provision that would provide all federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave, which is considered as a historic deal for more than 2 million Americans for the first time.
“This was not an easy process,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said before the vote. “We have a divided government. We have a Republican president, a Republican Senate and Democratic House who do not agree on a lot of issues, and those are the issues that tend to get focused on. But what this conference report reflects for the most part is that we do agree on a lot.”
It is also a win for President Trump and Republicans, as the bill would create Space Force, a new branch of the military to secure the dominance of the U.S. in space over threats from Russia and China.
The branch, which was first introduced by the House in 2017 as Space Corps, has become a top priority for President Trump.
“Space Force would be housed in the Department of the Air Force in a structure similar to the Marine Corps’s relationship to the Department of the Navy. The service would be led by the chief of space operations, who would report directly to the secretary of the Air Force and become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” the Hill reported.
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said that the final bill is “good for the troops, and it is good for national security, and when it comes to a defense authorization bill, that’s all that really matters.”
Includes reporting from the Associated Press