Senate Passes Defense Bill Without Pro-Life, Transgender Care Amendments

The vote sets up a standoff between the Senate and House as they try to hammer out a compromise version of the normally noncontroversial legislation.

United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (photo: Vlad / Shutterstock)

The Senate passed its version of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Thursday night without the amendments blocking the military’s spending on abortion and transgender surgeries that were passed by the Republican-controlled House.

The vote sets up a standoff between the Senate and House as they try to hammer out a compromise version of the normally noncontroversial legislation.

The $886 billion spending package, which sets the military’s budget for the next year, passed in a largely bipartisan 86-11 vote. According to reporting by The Hill, the bill was opposed by six Democrats and four Republicans.

Though many pro-life senators, such as Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, oppose the military’s program that grants paid leave and reimburses service members for abortion travel costs, ultimately there was no vote on the pro-life amendments in the Senate.

Tuberville has called for the Pentagon itself to rescind its abortion policy rather than Congress.

The senators opposing the package were Mike Bruan (Indiana), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Kentucky), J.D. Vance (Ohio), Bernie Sanders (Vermont), Cory Booker (New Jersey), Ed Markey (Massachusetts), Jeff Merkley (Oregon), Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), Peter Welch (Vermont), and Ron Wyden (Oregon), according to The Hill.

In a Friday statement, Vance, a Catholic, said he opposed the Senate NDAA because it “commits the United States to years of additional military aid for the war in Ukraine.”

Now that both the House and Senate have passed their versions of the NDAA, the two must be reconciled and then sent to the president to be signed. 

The House version of the NDAA passed in a 219-210 vote on July 14 and included several amendments that were seen as significant victories for conservatives.

Among these was an amendment by Texas Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson that would force the military to end its program paying for service members’ abortion travel. 

Another amendment included by the House, introduced by Montana Republican Rep. Matthew Rosendale, mandates the military to stop using taxpayer dollars to pay for transgender surgeries and treatments.

The pro-life amendment and amendment against transgender surgeries received almost unanimous support from House Republicans.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray testifies Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

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