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House GOP passes Pentagon funding bill after failed tries

House Republicans late Thursday night approved legislation to fund the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2024, a success for GOP leaders after they decided to strip Ukraine funding from the legislation following two failed procedural votes.

The chamber cleared the measure in a 218-210 vote.

Approving the measure will not help Congress avert a shutdown before the Sept. 30 government funding deadline, but House GOP leaders are hopeful that moving the legislation and other full-year funding measures will help convince conservatives to get on board with a short-term funding stopgap.

The Pentagon spending bill — which is the largest of the 12 full-year appropriations measures — has been a source of consternation for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and its passage marks an incremental win for the Speaker.

Conservatives tanked two procedural votes to advance the legislation last week, with some hardliners pushing for steeper spending cuts and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) voicing opposition to funding for Ukraine.

In an effort to shore up support for the legislation, McCarthy told reporters last week that he would remove the $300 million in Ukraine aid from the Pentagon bill and hold a separate vote on the money. But he reversed on that stance one day later after recognizing that a bill funding the State Department also included aid for Ukraine.

McCarthy said it would be “too difficult” to remove the assistance from the State Department bill, and as a result decided to keep it in both measures. The House ended up advancing both bills, along with two other spending measures, in a largely party-line vote, with Greene being the only GOP lawmaker to oppose the procedural vote.

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to strip the $300 million from the legislation, defeating the measure in a 330-104 vote. 

But late Wednesday night, amid concerns that the Pentagon bill did not have enough support to pass, the House Rules Committee convened a last-minute meeting and moved to strip the $300 million from the legislation. The House advanced the separate Ukraine funding bill earlier on Thursday.

House Republicans proposed more than $820 billion in new funding for defense operations in the Pentagon appropriations bill. That includes what negotiators touted earlier this year as a historic “investment in security cooperation funding for Taiwan,” pay bumps for military personnel and boosts for the National Guard Counterdrug Program.

The bill also includes a spate of riders that Democrats have slammed as divisive and said could hurt recruitment, such as measures targeting efforts aimed at diversity, equity, and inclusion, and others the party says would be potentially harmful to those in the LGBTQ community.

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