The bill has now moved to the Senate, where it will likely be voted on later this week, before it can be enacted by President Joe Biden.
The bill passed with strong bipartisan support, with a final vote of 363-70, with 169 Democrats and 194 Republicans voting for the bill, while 51 Democrats and 19 Republicans voted against. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the only MP not to vote.
The final version of the bill, which leaders in both chambers agreed to, contains changes to how sexual assault and harassment is prosecuted and handled in the military, a 2.7% pay rise for military service members and civilian employees of the Ministry of Defense, and $ 300 million in military assistance to the Ukrainian Security Assistance Initiative, adding $ 50 million more than what was proposed in the budget request, indicated the summaries of the text of the bill of the committees of the armed forces of the House and the Senate.
The sweeping bill targets issues that have preoccupied Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin since taking over as head of the department in January, from handling sexual assault and harassment in the military to the changes made training on prejudice and discrimination for all. military branches.
The bill includes a “policy statement on Taiwan,” asserting that US policy is to maintain the ability of the United States to resist a fait accompli against Taiwan, which would “jeopardize the security” of the Taiwanese people, said. The law project.
While the bill is often seen as a bipartisan effort, with leaders from both parties and both houses of Congress agreeing on the text ahead of the House vote on Tuesday, not all members were happy with the outcome. final result.
Democratic Representative Anthony Brown of Maryland explained why he would vote against the legislation. He said he believes the bill does not go far enough to address racial prejudice in the military justice system.
“At a time when Democrats control the House, Senate and Executive branch, it is an inadmissible failure to pass a national defense authorization law that does not respect the values of fairness and justice for which we have longed for a bill that does not significantly protect the foundations of our democracy, ”Brown said in a statement.
The final version of the bill exempts the commander of a military command from “decisions related to the prosecution of covered crimes” including “sexual assault,” a significant change that military leaders including Austin and the President of the Chiefs Joint Staff General Mark Milley has publicly stated that he is supporting. Instead, the bill establishes that each department will now have a special trial counsel office to handle prosecutions for these crimes, including sexual assault, which will report to each department secretary.
The bill makes sexual harassment a crime for the first time in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. “All allegations of sexual harassment will need to be investigated by an independent investigator outside the chain of command,” the bill’s summary reads.
He also orders the department to “follow up on allegations of retaliation by victims” of sexual assault and harassment. Each service will need to track the demographic information of the person accused of committing the crimes of sexual assault and harassment and the victim of those crimes.
The bill authorizes a 2.7% salary increase for military service members and civilian employees of the DoD, and it authorizes the Secretary of Defense to pay a “basic needs allowance” to qualified members of the DoD. low income who need extra help. Many service members and their families have suffered the same setbacks other Americans have experienced during the pandemic, with military spouses losing their jobs and families struggling to make ends meet amid rising inflation over the world. cost of basic commodities such as food, fuel and shelter.
Havana Syndrome, China and Afghanistan
On “abnormal health incidents,” more colloquially known as Havana syndrome, the bill allows the president to appoint a “senior official” to lead a “whole-of-government” effort to deal with the incidents, the bill said. abstract. The bill also creates a “Department of Defense cross-functional team” to coordinate the Pentagon’s response to health incidents. The team will tackle “national security challenges” posed by the health incidents and ensure that those who have suffered from them receive timely medical attention, the bill says.
The bill directs the president to develop a classified “grand strategy on China,” with an unclassified summary, the text of the bill reads. It also asks the DoD to write several reports on China’s activities, from their military and security developments, from modernization technologies for their military applications to their strategy in Latin America and the Caribbean, the bill says.
After Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, suspended the chamber version of the NDAA last week because his amendment that would have prohibited the United States from purchasing products made in forced labor camps by the Uyghurs in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, that provision was included in the final version of the bill.
On Afghanistan, the bill establishes the independent Afghan War Commission to “review” the 20-year conflict, and requires the secretary to provide “in-depth” reports to Congress on the United States’ ability to fight against terrorism in the region, “responsibility” for military equipment left in the country and “any plans” to evacuate American citizens and “Afghan allies” still there, the summary said.
The bill also establishes an “office, organizational structure and provides authorities to combat unidentified aerial phenomena”, also known as UFOs.
This story and title was updated with additional development on Tuesday.
CNN’s Kristin Wilson, Melanie Zanona, and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.