The House on Thursday passed the annual defense policy bill with a $23.9 billion increase to the defense top line and a significant boost to the Navy’s shipbuilding account.
In a 316-113 vote Thursday evening, the lower chamber passed the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, authorizing a total of $768 billion for defense spending. Despite Democrats’ efforts to cut defense spending, including an attempt to reverse the $23.9 billion increase the House Armed Services approved earlier this month, the House passed the bill that authorized the funding boost.
“The additional funding we secured meets the criteria outlined by the National Defense Strategy, continues the progress we have made in improving military readiness, and helps the United States remain the world’s leading military power,” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the ranking member of the HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee, said in a statement. “Through this strength, the United States will be able to project force and deter conflict as we work to secure peace throughout the world and check China’s malign influence.”
The bill authorizes a total of 13 battleforce ships: two Virginia-class attack boats, three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one Constellation-class frigate, one America-class amphibious assault ship, two Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels, two John Lewis-class fleet oilers, one Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship, and one T-AGOS(X) ocean surveillance ship.
“Thanks to the hard work of Democrats, the bill includes provisions that continue to build a more diverse, inclusive fighting force and equips the Department of Defense with the tools necessary to combat extremism in the ranks,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in a statement. “The FY22 NDAA also focuses on deepening and broadening our partnerships and alliances around the world with a particular eye towards the Indo-Pacific region vis-à-vis the Pacific Deterrence Initiative.”
The bill also features language that would keep the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) reports going in perpetuity. The long-standing reports, which evaluate the health of the Navy’s ships, were set to end this calendar year if Congress did not act, USNI News previously reported.
The bill also includes language that would allow the Navy to retire four of the seven Ticonderoga-class cruisers it asked to decommission in the FY 2022 budget request. The service can retire USS Port Royal (CG-73), USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), USS Hué City (CG-66) and USS Anzio (CG-68) in FY 2022, meaning it must keep USS San Jacinto (CG-56), USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) and USS Monterey (CG-61) in the fleet.
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version of the defense policy bill in July and released the full text of the legislation this week. It awaits a vote on the Senate floor.