The House voted 350-69 to approve the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was quickly developed earlier this week by House and Senate Armed Services negotiators. The "no" votes came from 19 Republicans and 50 Democrats.
Members voted 350-69 for the legislation in the chamber's final roll-call vote of 2013.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) questioned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) priorities Thursday after the leader waited until the end of the year to bring up the defense authorization bill.
“One has to wonder about the priorities of the party and the majority leader,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “Isn’t that a commentary that my friends on the other side and the majority leader on how they feel about our service members?”
Defense-minded lawmakers are torn over a decision to include military retirement benefit cuts in the congressional budget deal.
The agreement has been slammed by veterans and service organization groups.
Veterans groups are lashing out at the congressional budget deal for targeting military retirement accounts to help pay for spending increases.
Defense Department spokesman Col. Steve Warren said Wednesday that combat and hazard pay for U.S. forces overseas will continue with or without a Pentagon budget bill.
The vote on the Defense bill would occur under a suspension process.
But budget agreement requires veterans under 62 to pay more into their retirement accounts.
McConnell criticized Reid for pushing the Defense authorization bill without amendments.