U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, voted against the House version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act on Friday, saying House Democrats had made the annual defense bill into a partisan vote.
“I was one of two Republicans to cross the aisle and vote for the NDAA in committee in hopes that we could improve it through the amendment process,” Ms. Stefanik was quoted as saying in a press release. “With the Democrat’s partisan provisions that were added on the Floor, I could not in good conscience vote for this legislation. Our military readiness has already suffered devastating blows from sequestration, and this would worsen the problem.”
The bill passed 220-197, with eight Democrats and all Republicans voting against it, and 16 members not voting — including Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard.
After the House Armed Services Committee voted to send the NDAA to the floor, Ms. Stefanik explained why she voted for the bill in committee, despite concerns over the topline spending number - the Committee version has a total budget of $733 billion, Republicans want to increase that to $750 billion.
Ms. Stefanik said at the time that the increased spending would be in line with testimony from former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan, and allow the U.S. not to be outclassed by near-peer countries like Russia and China.
“We need to have a three to five percent increase,” Ms. Stefanik said. “We need to make sure our spending keeps pace.”
Ms. Stefanik said that amendments added to the committee bill prevented her from voting for the final version, including the reduced topline and an amendment preventing troops from being deployed to the border.
“With the Democrat’s partisan provisions that were added on the Floor, I could not in good conscience vote for this legislation,” she was quoted as saying. “While I support portions of this bill, I am deeply concerned it fails to fulfill our role as a legislative body and does not reflect a longstanding tradition of robust bipartisan support. I anticipate this bill will improve as we work with the Senate in Conference, and am hopeful that a truly bipartisan NDAA will be the result.”
Among the amendments was one offered by Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California, preventing funds from being spent on military action in Iran without congressional authority. The amendment passed 251-170, Ms. Stefanik joined 163 of her fellow Republicans in voting against the amendment.