The House passed its annual defense policy bill. To call it a disappointment would be an understatement.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 (H.R 2670)—known as the NDAA—authorizes a staggering $886 billion in military spending. That alone would be bad enough, but the bill goes further: it fails to include provisions to rein in unchecked Pentagon spending and price gouging by defense contractors, limit U.S. military involvement overseas, or prevent the use and transfer of indiscriminate weapons like cluster munitions.
There was some hope that the House version of the bill would include an amendment to repeal the 2002 war authorization that led us to invade Iraq. Despite strong bipartisan support for repeal, an amendment led by Reps. Barbara Lee (CA-12) and Chip Roy (TX-21) was not considered or voted on.
It gets stranger: Both parties have historically considered the NDAA “must-pass” legislation. As such, it is one of the few major bills Congress has passed annually for over six decades. This time, however, some House Republicans took the unprecedented step of using the bill to advance harsh ideological restrictions on polarizing social issues, leading to chaos in the hours before the vote.
The final legislation was passed largely along party lines by a vote of 219-210. It includes limits on abortions, gender transition procedures, and diversity training for military personnel.
In its current form, the bill has little chance of surviving in the Senate. FCNL is committed to identifying, exposing, and eliminating white supremacy, racism, and all forms of oppression and discrimination. We’ll focus our attention on our senators as they craft their version of the bill to ensure that the most harmful provisions passed today won’t become law and that measures that could positively impact peace—such as the repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF—are included.
Your Advocacy Helped Protect Peacebuilding Accounts in House
Last month House appropriators passed a funding bill that included unconscionable cuts to essential programs, including critical peacebuilding accounts. This week the full House Appropriations Committee passed the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) Appropriations bill out of committee and released their committee report. We were encouraged to see that both the Atrocities Prevention Fund and Reconciliation Programs, which we feared had been defunded, remained at FY2023 levels. Given the dramatic cuts across other areas of the bill, this is a strong signal that our advocacy for peace is having an impact.
Administration Releases Grants to Sustain Climate Resiliency
The Biden administration unveiled $90 million in grants to help cities, states, and tribes withstand climate disasters. These investments, which will support 27 new projects, come after several recent weather events fueled by climate change. The funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (P.L. 117-58), passed in 2021.
First Shipments of Cluster Bombs Arrive in Ukraine
The Pentagon confirmed that cluster munitions provided by the United States have reached Ukraine after President Biden approved their transfer last Friday. These dangerous and indiscriminate weapons pose a disproportionate threat to civilians. FCNL joined partners and some members of Congress in opposing their transfer. “More weapons, and certainly not more indiscriminate weapons, are not the answer. Diplomacy is,” said FCNL’s Bridget Moix.
Bill to Protect Afghan Migrants Reintroduced
Only a fraction of the 77,000 Afghans evacuated to the United States have been granted permanent legal status. Unless Congress acts, thousands could face deportation. Today, we were encouraged to learn that the Afghan Adjustment Act is expected to be reintroduced in the House. By advancing this legislation, Congress can demonstrate support for Afghans who aided the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees and their relatives in the United States.
The Friends Committee on National Legislation is a national, nonpartisan Quaker organization that lobbies Congress and the administration to advance peace, justice, and environmental stewardship. This Week in the World. The FCNL weekly newsletter of advocacy actions and updates and opportunities to take action on the issues you care about.