(WASHINGTON) — The House on Wednesday cleared its first procedural hurdle on the National Defense Authorization Act, approving a rule on non-controversial amendments to the annual military spending and budget bill. But the fight continues as Republicans remain far from agreement on how to tackle issues including abortion, diversity at the Pentagon and Ukraine funding — all of which could tank the legislation.
Facing another test of how he can corral his party, Speaker Kevin McCarthy is working with GOP leadership to navigate through the rest of the amendments for the defense bill while having ongoing meetings and talks with the hard-line conservatives who are proposing controversial changes.
“We did the first part now. You know we have 1,500 amendments. It takes a lot of time to work through all of it,” McCarthy said.
The amendments include gutting military diversity programs, reversing a policy to reimburse service members for travel expenses if they get an abortion, reinstating troops who refused to comply with the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate and limiting funds for further assistance to Ukraine, like providing cluster bombs, which are banned by numerous other countries.
Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said Wednesday that the House GOP is still “trying to figure out how we’re going to pull all that together and get it across the finish line.”
“There’s obviously a lot of hot-button issues you all know that need to be addressed and dealt with,” he said, listing items like abortion access, climate change and the transgender community.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said leadership is having ongoing discussions with right-wing lawmakers including Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania about the proposed amendments.
“We’re going to work through the process. If we can finish it all this week, we will. If it takes more time we’ll take it, right?” Scalise said.
During the weekly GOP conference meeting, McCarthy warned against amendments that could complicate or slow-down the NDAA.
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., said Republican leaders and members have been encouraging the conference to push the NDAA forward.
“There’s nothing more that we need to do as a nation other than to prepare and ready our defense forces, whether it’s here or abroad. We need to do this, we need to do it this week, and I hope that we can get there,” Mace said.
Some Democrats have said they will vote against the NDAA if it includes the right-wing amendments. McCarthy has said he hopes Democrats still back the bill, while House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar has said members “will vote their districts” and “their conscience. … the details of these policies matter.”
Beyond the NDAA, the House also faces a looming government shutdown later this year. Hard-line Republicans have already demanded McCarthy agree to their limits on spending if he wants their votes on future appropriations bills.
ABC News’ Noah Minnie contributed to this report.
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