The full House began debate today on the fiscal year (FY) 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and some of the 1,500 amendments to the legislation filed by lawmakers.

Late Tuesday evening, the House Rules Committee took a procedural vote allowing the defense bill, and nearly 300 proposed amendments, to proceed to the House floor for debate on July 12.

The House Armed Services Committee first approved the NDAA in a late-night vote on June 21 by a tally of 58-1, following a 17-hour markup session. More than 800 amendments were negotiated during the marathon markup session. The bill was sent to the Rules Committee before it made its way to the full House.

The Rules Committee – on a 9-4 vote along party lines – decided to leverage a bifurcated rule to try and move the NDAA through the House. The first rule was approved by the committee on July 11 – and adopted by the House on July 12 with a vote of 217-207. It sent 290 amendments of the legislation “en bloc” to the House floor. These amendments are considered by the committee as bipartisan and “not controversial at all.” Representatives began debate of the first group of amendments late this afternoon, and are expected to vote on them tomorrow morning.

Further procedural steps will be needed before final passage of the bill. According to the Rules Committee’s NDAA rule, the remaining 1,200 amendments – considered the hot-button social issues – could be subsequently cleared for consideration “en bloc” and are expected to be sent to the House floor for debate this week. However, the timeline is unclear for when the Rules Committee will meet again to deal with the remaining amendments.

House Rules Chair Tom Cole, R-Okla., said on the floor today that this first batch of NDAA amendments will yield a “pretty bipartisan discussion,” followed by “more contentious stuff later.”

The NDAA has been passed on a bipartisan basis every year since 1961 and authorizes the Department of Defense (DoD) spending levels and sets overarching military policy to equip, supply, and train U.S. troops and provide for military families. This year’s NDAA, which authorizes an $886 billion military budget for the coming fiscal year, includes numerous cyber and tech provisions.

Cybersecurity Provisions in the First Half of FY24 NDAA

The full House began deliberation today on the first 290 amendments of the FY24 NDAA. A handful of cyber-related provisions were included.

The DoD is mandated by Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Mark Green’s, R-Tenn., amendment to produce a report to Congress on the feasibility of furnishing the national guard of every state with a cyber unit to ensure the state can quickly respond to cyberattacks.

A bipartisan amendment to provide $1 million in funding for the Navy’s Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management (C-SCRM) program was also included.

On the C-SCRM front, Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., offered an amendment that incorporates C-SCRM tools and methods in the DoD’s Energy Performance Master Plan, calling on the department to prioritize commercially available tools. The amendment requires the secretary of defense to submit to Congress a report on its progress in implementing the commercially available tools and methods of C-SCRM.

Rep. Rob Menendez, D-N.J., offered an amendment that directs the secretary of defense to improve outreach to departing servicemembers on career training opportunities in the cybersecurity field, including improving online search functions for the cyber workforce.

Technology Provisions First Half of FY24 NDAA

This first portion of the NDAA also had a slew of technological provisions that were considered on the House floor today.

Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., introduced an amendment that establishes a working group to identify potential applications for blockchain technology, smart contracts, or distributed ledger technologies to improve efficiencies or functions at the DoD.

An amendment was added by Rep. Bryon Donalds, R-Fla., that encourages the U.S. Armed Forces to utilize innovative technological capabilities – such as AI, quantum information science, advanced air mobility, and counter-UAS – to ultimately defend the national security of the United States.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis. – Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation – offered an amendment that requires the annual China Military Power report to provide an assessment of the PRC’s development in critical and emerging technologies and identify at least 10 PRC entities that are operating in each technology.

Rep. Glenn Ivey’s, D-Md., amendment enables the Defense Innovation Unit within the DoD to identify, support, and collaborate with multi-stakeholder research and innovation partnerships that have the potential to generate key technologies, products, or other solutions that address national defense or security needs.

Separately on Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee released the full text of its version of the 2024 NDAA, which advanced by a vote of 24-1 on June 23. The bill is expected to come to the Senate floor next week.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.