U.S. House of Representatives passes Pentagon package, includes multiple Colorado-focused amendments

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
The Capitol is seen behind reinforced barricades as the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump begins in the Senate in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the NDAA Thursday by a vote of 329-101.

The annual defense policy bill has passed with bipartisan support for more than 60 years. 

The $839 billion bill adds $37 billion more than what President Joe Biden had requested for the Pentagon. It has a 4.6 percent pay raise for service members, funding to help military families with child care and continued investments in alliances and partnerships, such as the European Deterrence Initiative and the Pacific Deterrence Initiative.

With more than 300 votes for the bill, GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn, who serves on the Armed Service committee and is the ranking member of the Strategic Forces subcommittee, said it was “a great showing.”

“The bill is a win for Colorado because we got some good funding to continue a lot of Space Force and other military missions that are very involved in Colorado,” Lamborn said after the vote. 

The bill includes a provision from Rep. Jason Crow, who also sits on the Armed Services Committee, and Lamborn to establish a Space National Guard.

Lamborn was the only Colorado Republican to vote for the bill. GOP Reps. Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck voted against the FY 23 NDAA, while Democratic Reps. Crow, Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter voted for the bill.

Several amendments by Colorado congress members were added to the final bill in the past two days

Buck may have voted against the legislation, but he was pleased that his amendment to award Gary Cyr a Bronze Star for his service during the Vietnam War was included.

“We are grateful for his selfless service and personal courage that holds with the highest traditions of military service. His valiant actions clearly display his bravery, as well as the heroism of his unit,” Buck said in a statement.

Crow got a number of amendments added to the bill, including authorizing the Colorado National Guard’s FireGuard Program through 2026. 

A couple of amendments offered by Neguse and Lamborn were also added. One would improve PTSD claims processing, while another would connect veterans with apprenticeship programs and other employment opportunities.

The bill also includes some provisions that have split the delegation in the past, such as the CORE act and the Colorado Wilderness Act — Neguse and DeGette’s public land bills, respectively. Boebert objected to the inclusion of those two additions .

Neguse said large policy packages like the NDAA are legislative vehicles where “we can enact common sense policy changes that will benefit our nation’s veterans, improve our national security and make needed reforms in a variety of other areas.”

“We’re hopeful. We’re going to continue to work as hard as we can to protect public lands in our state,” Neguse said. 

“I’m hoping against hope that it will be included in the final conference when this bill is negotiated [with the Senate] in a couple of months.” 

Neguse got CORE included in the House’s version of the FY22 NDAA, which includes a national historic landscape designation for Camp Hale where the 10th Mountain Division trained during World War Two, only to see it taken out as the House and Senate hashed out differences.

Perlmutter got his SAFE Banking bill, which would help cannabis companies access financial services, included again in the House version of the bill. Like CORE, it was taken out in the last NDAA.

“It’s time to get this done – and I will pursue any and all legislative avenues to do so,” said Perlmutter in a statement. He noted that it’s an opportunity for action “for the safety of our communities and success of Veteran- and minority-owned businesses across the country.” 

Lamborn said he thinks the “problematic amendments” will likely get dropped when it goes to conference. 

The Senate moved its version of the NDAA out of committee last month, but it is still awaiting a floor vote.