The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are declaring a major victory over Democrats and their progressive agenda items following the House’s passage of a massive compromise Defense bill.
The final version of the National Defense Authorization Act provides President Donald Trump more latitude to deal with Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as ways he can fund the southern border wall.
The Senate is expected to pass the annual defense policy bill this week, and the White House said the president enthusiastically waiting to sign it into law, the Washington Times reported Sunday.
Senate Armed Services Committee chair James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said in a memo to fellow GOP members after leading defense lawmakers announced they had finished their negotiations and settled on a final bill last week that Democrats’ “progressive agenda” had been “halted.”
Inhofe ticked off a list of the most significant losses for Democrats.
“No restrictions on border/wall authorities, No restrictions on arms sales, No [Guantanamo prison] restrictions, No transgender policy changes … No limit on POTUS authority to pressure Iran,” the memo said.
In addition, Republicans were victorious after language was dropped to repeal the 2002 congressional authorization for the war on terror, sanctions on Russia and funding to clean PFAS — “forever chemicals” — that have been discovered in tap water on military bases around the country and declared unsafe.
Still, the president and Republicans were unable to obtain victories on some of their biggest items, meaning those funding battles will be passed off to congressional appropriators.
“The victory that I see for Republicans is mainly on avoiding the worst possible outcome,” Frederico Bartels, a defense budget and policy analyst for The Heritage Foundation, told the Times.
Democrats claimed that the bill was the most “progressive” in the country’s history, but conservative analysts disputed that.
“These were empty gestures,” Giselle Donnelley, a defense and national security resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Times.
“There was no earthly way that pretty much any of these provisions were going to be made into law.
“I don’t think [the Democrats] got any victories. … The fact that the progressive wing of the party sort of disrupted the defense bill process is at best an apparent victory,” Donnelley said.