Senate passes defense policy bill void of most GOP culture-war demands

The U.S. Senate has passed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with the overwhelming support of the Democratic Party. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 84–13, and it achieved the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

The NDAA is an annual defense policy bill that funds the nation’s military and sets the policy framework for the Department of Defense. This year’s bill contains several controversial provisions, including language that would limit President Trump’s ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Germany and an extension of the Pentagon’s blanket authority to make purchases and contracts without any Congressional oversight at all.

The bill also notably lacked any of the “culture war” provisions that Republicans had sought in the past, such as restrictions on transgender personnel or attempts to limit the scope of President Obama’s 2009 repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Democrats were able to use their majority to strip out these controversial provisions, and Republicans had few tools at their disposal to force them to include them.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass despite some opposition from Democrats. After that, the bill will go to the White House where President Trump has threatened to veto the bill due to the limits on his authority over troop withdrawals. It is possible that the two-thirds majority will be enough to override the veto, though it is not clear if that will be the case.

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