WASHINGTON — It took more than 13 hours and the wading through of 780 amendments.
But, in the end, the House Armed Services Committee managed to pass the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act for 2022.
The measure includes $28 billion for shipbuilding, preserves three existing guided missile cruisers the Navy proposed decommissioning; plus, it pays for advanced procurement for three Virginia Class submarines, and, purchases three Arleigh Burke Class guided-missile destroyers.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Virginia, 2nd District) pushed to add $23.9 billion to the NDAA, primarily to boost the Navy fleet.
"Our law says we need 355 ships," she said. "We need 11 aircraft carriers. That's required by law. And when a budget comes over that proposes decommissioning more ships than we build, that doesn't get us in the right direction to have the force we need to deal with China."
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginias 1st District) also urged passage of the additional funds for ships.
After the measure passed, he called it "a tremendous victory for the United States Military, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the United States of America."
Additionally, the House NDAA would provide $88.9 million for Naval Station Norfolk and $24 million for Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
The NDAA passed the House Armed Services Committee on a vote of 57 to 2. Wittman and Luria both voted yes.
The bill heads now to the floor of the full House.
Lawmakers got side-tracked for over an hour discussing Critical Race Theory.
And, Republican committee members attacked President Biden's decisions on the U.S exit. from Afghanistan, blaming him for the suicide bombings that resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members.
"We must find out what advice President Biden was given or ignored in making these disastrous decisions," said Ranking Member Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama).
The committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington) responded.
He said: "If we're going to really, honestly look at Afghanistan, we need to look at all 20 years. There was a lot that went into that. And I think simply focusing in the last four months is an incredible disservice to the men and women who have served there."