The House will consider its version of the 2023 Defense authorization bill soon, and that means lawmakers from the whole legislative body are adding their two cents for what should be in the bill.
To date, representatives have proposed 1,223 amendments to bill that already stretches more than 1,300 pages. Today, the House Rules Committee will decide which of those amendments are in order and will be deliberated on by the House as a whole.
Federal News Network compiled a list of amendments that are likely to make it to debate and are worthy of keeping an eye on.
The president’s budget
The Biden administration asked for about $773 billion for Defense in its 2023 request. However, the House Armed Services Committee didn’t think that was enough. The committee, citing concerns about inflation, gas prices, the Ukraine war and China, bumped the Defense topline by $37 billion.
The White House’s request was already about $31 billion more than what was enacted in 2022, and some lawmakers think that is plenty. Rep. Barbra Lee (D-Calif.) is proposing that the topline allotted for Defense stay at the $773 billion level.
There has long been a tug-of-war between lawmakers over domestic and Defense spending. With infrastructure, housing, education and health care issues all at the forefront of Americans’ minds, some more progressive Democrats feel that extra funds should be diverted from DoD and put into those areas.
Lee is also proposing an amendment with Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) to cut the Defense budget by $100 billion.
“This week, the House will be voting to increase our defense spending once again,” Pocan tweeted Monday. “Until they can pass an audit, it’s time to stop handing the Pentagon a blank check.”
The amendment fully funds the Defense Health Program, all personnel accounts and all benefits. It would cut the budget based on recommendations by the Congressional Budget Office.
DC and the National Guard
The nation’s capital is a tricky place when it comes to the convergence of state and federal law. The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building was illustrative of that after the city’s hands were tied in providing anything more than a police response to the insurrection.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) wants to change that. She’s proposing that the mayor of D.C. have the same authorities over the D.C. National Guard as governors have over their state National Guards.
Currently, the president has power over the D.C. National Guard.
The amendment is likely to bring up constitutional debates and questions over the District’s home rule. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) offered a similar amendment during the committee markup of the bill, but it was rejected.
UFOs and other unexplained phenomena
The Pentagon released footage over the past few years of aerial phenomena that it could not explain. Before you get excited, that doesn’t mean it’s aliens. It just means pilots and DoD sensors have seen things that are unexplainable. What is behind those objects, lights and other whacky situations is up for interpretation.
Regardless, DoD has labeled those unknown experiences as possible national security threats.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) wants to create a system within DoD for reporting UFOs. The system would report the event and any government or contractor activity related to it. The system would serve as a mechanism to prevent unauthorized public reporting of classified military or intelligence programs.
Cracking down on sexual assault
The Defense Department is taking a hardline on sexual assault after an independent review committee offered recommendations last year.
A bipartisan amendment from Rep. Barbra Frankel (D-Fla.) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) limits the availability of funds for businesses that want to contract with the government and require a nondisclosure agreement about sexual harassment or assault with its employees.
The amendment states that businesses requiring those documents cannot be granted contracts worth more than $1 million.