House passes bill approving $770B in national defense, with focus on Russia, China

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday approved the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act that comes with a price tag of about $770 billion and the objective of countering Russia and China.

The Pentagon plans to purchase 17 F-15EX fighters and 12 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets from Boeing, Reuters reported. The report pointed out that the number of F-15s was higher than the Defense Department's request in May for 12.

The bipartisan agreement prevents the Air Force from retiring the A-10 Thunderbolt II, Defense News reported. A Senate provision blocks the military branch from retiring any Warthog next year, the report said.

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II performs at Naval Air Facility El Centro on March 13, 2021 in El Centro, California. (Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II performs at Naval Air Facility El Centro on March 13, 2021 in El Centro, California. (Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images) (Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

The bill, which is now headed to the Senate, also calls for $4 billion to be earmarked for the European Deterrence Initiative, which aims to deter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. The buildup of NATO defenses in the region has irritated Moscow and has contributed to current tensions between countries. 

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The bill also earmarks $7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative that focuses on countering Chinese aggression, NPR reported.

Some conservatives cheered the bill’s passage and the decision to jettison a proposal that would expand the Selective Service System to women. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a bill enrollment ceremony for H.R. 6119, the Further Extending Government Funding Act at the U.S. Capitol on December 3, 2021 in Washington. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a bill enrollment ceremony for H.R. 6119, the Further Extending Government Funding Act at the U.S. Capitol on December 3, 2021 in Washington. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"NO red flag laws. NO drafting our daughters. The WOKE liberal agenda Democrats tried to sneak into the NDAA is GONE," Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, tweeted. "Democrats want to turn the military into a leftist social experiment—but WE stopped them!"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised the passage of the "strong, bipartisan defense bill." She said the pay increase will help military members provide for their families, while "fortifying our military’s technological advantage" and supporting our "partners," including Ukraine. (Kiev is a NATO partner, not ally, which carries security assurances. Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, pointed out the distinction last week.)

Representative Ronny Jackson, a Republican from Texas, speaks during a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S., on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Representative Ronny Jackson, a Republican from Texas, speaks during a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S., on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The bill calls for a 2.7% pay increase for service members and includes reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

The A-10 attack plane has been on the chopping block for years, but continues to be saved by Congress. In 2014, the Pentagon requested their retirement and said the savings would be about $3.5 billion.

Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona who flew the A-10 in combat and called it a "badass airplane with a big gun on it." The plane is armed with a seven-barrel Gatling gun that is nine feet long and fires 30mm armor-piercing shells at a rate of 3,900 rounds per minute. Also armed with Maverick missiles.

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Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall recently called the A-10 "an anchor holding back the Air Force."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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