The US House of Representatives Thursday passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which sets appropriations for the defense budget for fiscal year 2023. In total, the 3,854-page NDAA authorizes $857.9 billion in expenditures.
Controversially, the bill would lift the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the armed services. The Biden administration implemented the mandate in 2021. Since then, the military has discharged over 8,000 service members for not being vaccinated. However, if the bill is passed, members of Congress stated there will need to be a way for those members to rejoin and receive back-pay.
The bill ensures continued support to forces in Ukraine by providing an additional $800 million in funding and invests money in researching new cutting-edge technology, like aircraft technology, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, microelectronics, and 5G infrastructure. The NDAA also establishes a program to ensure “historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions . . . achieve and maintain very high research activity status.” The bill extends funding to the CDC for continued research of PFAS in drinking water and the impacts it has on human health. The bill also requires the Department of Defense to ensure its fleet of non-tactical vehicles will be alternatively fueled vehicles by the end of 2030.
The NDAA must pass the Senate and then be approved by the President before official enactment.