House, Senate set for clash over defense bill

The Senate passed the annual defense bill on an 86-11 vote, signaling bipartisan unity on the legislation after the House bickered over its version.


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Senate passage is “a stark contrast to the partisan race to the bottom we saw in the House.”


“House Republicans should look to the Senate to see how things get done,” Schumer said. “They are throwing on the floor partisan legislation that has no chance of passing. The contrast is glaring.”


The House legislation passed earlier this month on a near-party line vote.


Republicans muscled through the bill after including amendments to strip out military diversity programs, along with provisions taking aim at other cultural issues.


Both the Senate and House bill match the topline amount of $886 billion for fiscal year 2024 in President Biden’s budget request.


But the Democratic-led Senate and GOP-led House will need to come to agreement in the coming months on a compromise bill. Both chambers have left for the August recess.


Eleven senators voted against the bill on Thursday — six Democrats, one independent and four Republicans — most of whom argued the legislation is bloated and the Defense Department is overfunded.


Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said he “can’t support a package that inflates military spending at the expense of working and middle-class families.”


“The American people have repeatedly heard from Republicans that we need to cut government spending—for education, for health care, for food assistance—and now they are enthusiastically throwing funding to their defense contractor friends,” the senator said.


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