WASHINGTON - Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Tuesday night that would provide $768 billion for the nation's military for the 2022 fiscal year.
The bill's passage by a vote of 363-70 came after weeks of unusually contentious debate over the annual defense spending budget due to a number of issues. The final version, which was crafted in closed-door sessions between leaders from both the House and the U.S. Senate, includes the creation of an independent commission to investigate the United States' 20-year war in Afghanistan, $300 million in aid to the Ukrainian armed forces, and a statement of support for the defense of self-ruled Taiwan, which China has vowed to annex, even by force. It also prohibits the Defense Department from buying any items produced by Muslim Uyghurs who are detained in China's Xinjiang region.
The bill also creates a new, independent special victims prosecutor to handle allegations of rape, sexual assault and other serious crimes, removing it from the authority of regular military commanders.
But several other items were stripped from the bill before the final vote, including a repeal of the measure passed in 2002 that authorized military force against Iraq, and a measure requiring women to register for the system that drafts Americans into the military during times of war, which was strongly opposed by conservatives who are opposed to forcing women to fight in the nation's wars.
The final cost of the bill was $24 billion more than what President Joe Biden had requested in his initial budget proposal. The measure now goes on to the Senate, which is expected to give its final approval sometime this week after lawmakers there failed to pass its own version.
Some information for this report came from Reuters.