US House approves defence funding bill, including Menendez-Rubio amendment

F-35 fighter jet. Greece

The US House of Representatives has passed an updated version of the 768 billion dollar defence spending bill for 2022, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

The House approved the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) together with other bills with a 363-70 vote on Tuesday night.

Now the bill heads to the Senate, where there’s some bipartisan resistance to military justice reform provisions weakened during negotiations. It’s unclear whether the Senate, like the House, will approve the bill without considering more amendments.

But with the House scheduled to leave for the rest of the year on Friday, lawmakers have a narrow window if they want to send the defence bill to the president’s desk during 2021.

The bill finalized Tuesday authorizes $768 billion for national defence, of which $28 billion funds Energy Department nuclear weapons programs. It was negotiated by leaders of the two Armed Services committees, who met in an informal conference committee after the Senate failed to pass the defence bill before Thanksgiving.

The NDAA includes an amendment offered in June by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Republican Senator Marco Rubio on the US-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2021, under which Congress would back selling.

Meanwhile, speaking at the Athena 2021 conference held at the Hellenic Air Force Academy Tuesday, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt hailed Greece’s role as a “key partner” in achieving American and NATO security priorities in the Eastern Mediterranean and southeastern Europe.

“Our defence and security relationship enjoys strong bipartisan support across the US government in Washington as most recently demonstrated by the introduction of the Menendez-Rubio US-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2021, and of course our updated MDCA,” Pyatt said referring to the defence deal signed between Athens and Washington.

Pyatt said that the volume of US bilateral and multinational exercises with Greece has rapidly expanded in both scope and size, and now includes participation in 15 major annual named exercises.