The Safest Bet in Washington — Massive Defense Bill Passes
Author: Greg Valliere
December 16, 2022
THE FINAL DOLLAR AMOUNT in the defense bill for this fiscal year is $858 billion, about $45 billion more than President Biden requested. The bill sailed through the Senate by a lopsided vote of 83-11; it was the 61st consecutive year the defense spending bill passed on time.
SOME AMENDMENTS DID NOT PASS, HOWEVER: Sen. Joe Manchin’s energy permitting proposal failed to pass; he vowed to get it enacted early next year. Also rejected — The SAFE Banking Act, which would prohibit federal regulators from penalizing financial firms that work with legitimate cannabis businesses.
IN A MAJOR VICTORY FOR CONSERVATIVES, the defense bill banned the military’s mandatory Covid vaccine program. And reflecting the impact of inflation, there was a 4.6% raise in service members’ salaries. The most notable hike was $163 billion for procurement, compared to the $144 billion requested in Biden’s budget.
NOW THAT THIS BILL HAS PASSED, the pressure has been reduced to enact a massive omnibus spending bill by the deadline of next Friday, Dec. 23. Republicans like Mitch McConnell have gotten what they consider mandatory — defense spending — and they’re not as enthusiastic about provisions in the omnibus measure such as boosting the child tax credit, passing an immigration reform bill, or even finishing a Ukraine aid package.
ALL OF THESE PROVISIONS WILL BE DEBATED IN THE NEXT WEEK, with most Republicans favoring a simple continuing resolution keeping the government open into next year — when fiscal conservatives will control the House.
IN THE MEANTIME, a furious battle will continue among House Republicans over picking a new Speaker. There are several scenarios — one far-fetched proposal would install someone who isn’t actually a member of the House, which theoretically is legal; there was a short-lived rumor yesterday that Republicans would elect Donald Trump as House Speaker. Trust us, that’s not going to happen.
OUR BEST GUESS, after talking with Hill Republicans, is that Kevin McCarthy will eventually become House Speaker, perhaps after many ballots and more promises by him to a small faction of right wing activists. If McCarthy wins, he will be on an exceedingly short leash.
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