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House passes $840 billion military spending, policy bill

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The House voted 329-101 to approve an $840 billion bill including funding for the Defense Department and directing policy at the agency. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
The House voted 329-101 to approve an $840 billion bill including funding for the Defense Department and directing policy at the agency. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

July 14 (UPI) -- The House on Thursday approved an $840 billion measure to increase military spending and direct Defense Department policy in the coming year.

House lawmakers voted 329-101 in a bipartisan show of support for the bill that increases President Joe Biden's Pentagon budget by $37 billion while also placing a focus on funding to assist Ukraine's military, competing with China, addressing issues during the military withdrawal from Afghanistan and rooting out extremism from among the ranks of the armed forces.

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"We have a complex threat environment, when you look at Russia and China and Iran," Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chairman of the armed services committee said. "The war in Ukraine is a devastating threat to peace, stability and democracy, not just in Eastern Europe, but across the globe that we are working with partners to try to address. So we have to make sure that we have a strong bill."

The bill authorizes $100 million in assistance for Ukrainian military pilots while calling for a study of what resources NATO requires to stamp out Russian aggression.

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Lawmakers also approved a series of measures regarding China's efforts to expand its global footprint in addition to shoring up U.S. relations with Taiwan, including conducting feasibility studies to enhance military cooperation.

In response to the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which saw 13 U.S. service members killed in an attack on an airport in Kabul, the bill called for improvements on the visa processing system that left thousands of American allies stuck in Afghanistan after U.S. personnel withdrew.

The bill also includes a provision requiring top national security agencies to report on and take efforts to prevent white supremacist and neo-Nazi activity in federal law enforcement and armed forces, which drew unanimous opposition from Republicans.

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"Every member of the military who showed an interest or actual participation in a white supremacist or white nationalist group has faced discipline," Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said in defense of his opposition. "The relevant branch either demoted the individual, discharged them or otherwise disciplined the sympathizer."

Other provisions include granting a 4.6% pay raise to military personnel, while prohibiting the Biden administration from selling F-16s to Turkey without providing guarantees on how they will be used.

An effort by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., to reduce the Pentagon's budget by $100 billion this year was defeated by a 350-78 vote.

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The version of the bill passed Thursday has not yet been reconciled with a Senate version, which has not yet been made public but is expected to alter how much money is directed toward the Defense Department.

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