The House on July 14 narrowly approved its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2024 by a margin of 219-210, after voting on amendments offered by lawmakers – condensed from more than 1,500 to 370 – earlier in the week.

Three hundred and fifty-three of the amendments were adopted on the House floor – 290 of which were considered bipartisan and “not controversial at all” by House Republican leaders.

The Senate will tee up the voting process for its own version of the legislation next week.

Once the Senate passes its own version of the defense bill, the House and Senate will negotiate over differences in their respective bills through a conference committee to arrive at a unified version of the legislation. The House and Senate will then have to each vote on the unified version of the bill before sending it to President Biden’s desk for approval.

The $886 billion defense package – which includes a 5.2 percent pay raise for service members and measures addressing threats from China and Russia – cleared the House in a near-party-line vote, 219-210. Four Republicans voted against the bill, while four Democrats voted for it.

While a lot of the proposed tech and cyber provisions didn’t make the cut as the House Rules Committee sifted through more than 1,500 amendments, there are some high-level amendments that came out the other side unscathed, which will have an impact on the DoD’s IT efforts for FY24 and beyond.

Thirty representatives offered a bipartisan amendment that would establish a National Digital Reserve Corps – a civilian organization tasked with addressing digital and cyber needs across the Federal government. It would require the General Services Administration to detail individuals to agencies according to the government’s specific cybersecurity needs.

This particular piece of legislation has made its rounds in the House a few times. Sponsors tried and failed to tack it onto the FY22 NDAA.

Rep. Mark Green’s, R-Tenn., amendment to produce a report to Congress on the feasibility of furnishing the national guard of every state with a cyber unit also made it in the final House document, as well as Rep. Rob Menendez’s, D-N.J., amendment that directs the secretary of defense to improve outreach to departing servicemembers on career training opportunities in the cybersecurity field.

Rep. Bryon Donalds, R-Fla., also had an amendment that made it through unscathed which encourages the U.S. Armed Forces to utilize innovative technological capabilities – such as AI, quantum information science, advanced air mobility, and counter-UAS – to ultimately defend the national security of the United States.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, stated that he will continue to vote no on this year’s NDAA legislation until it has a more bipartisan effort behind it – something the defense bill has had for the last 62 years.

Calling the bill a “travesty,” Rep. Connolly said in a statement, “For decades, Democrats and Republicans have come together to pass NDAAs that reflect our shared American values, protect our national security interests, and uplift our brave servicemembers. This year, however, Republicans have replaced that long bipartisan tradition with their extreme MAGA agenda.”

“I can only hope a pragmatic governing majority can come together to produce a bill we can be proud of,” he added.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.