The vote was 256-167 for the 2,232-page spending package that congressional leaders released Wednesday evening.
The White House has said President Donald Trump will sign the bill, but the Senate must pass it before 11:59 p.m. Friday or government funding will lapse.
Touted by GOP leaders as the largest year-on-year increase in defense spending in 15 years, includes $654.6 billion for the Pentagon, surpassing Trump’s request by $15.5 billion and funding new ships, jets and missile defense. The bill also includes some limited flexibility to compensate for its introduction in the midway through the fiscal year.
“This bill provides the largest increase in defense spending in 15 years. Why? Frankly because our military's been hollowed — hollowed out for many years,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said ahead of the vote. “We're boosting resources for training, equipment, maintenance, base operations. It means new naval ships, new fighters, new helicopters. It means we are finally building a 21st century fighting force.”
To rally support, the messaging from Republicans leaders in both chambers amplified the military funding boost in the bill and the military’s challenges. For months, GOP leaders have vocally cast the military as underfunded by budget caps, evidenced by high-profile military accidents they attribute to dire training and maintenance backlogs.
“First and foremost, in my view, this bill will mark the end of disproportionate and harmful cuts to the Department of Defense,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a floor speech Thursday.
“These new funding levels will ensure that the training and tools available to our service members remain on the cutting edge, and at long last veterans will receive more transparent and more accessible care. This has been a top priority on our side of the aisle.”
After weeks of closed-door negotiations to match appropriations to the February deal on the budget’s top line, the bill was unveiled at 9 p.m. Wednesday. A narrowly passed House rule allowed one hour to debate the bill in the lower chamber.
Though the omnibus passed by a comfortable margin, it saw 90 Republican defectors vote “nay.” Of Democrats, 111 voted “yea,” while 77 voted “nay,” including House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
Lead Democrats groused about having to rush to pass a bill there was little time to read, and the conservative House Freedom Caucus opposed the bill over its size, arguing it included too many Democrat-friendly policy provisions.
The Senate could take up the bill as soon as Thursday, though it’s unclear whether Sen. Rand Paul, the most likely senator to force a temporary government shutdown, will do so.
“Shame, shame,” Paul, R-Ky., said on Twitter Thursday morning. “A pox on both Houses - and parties. $1.3 trillion. Busts budget caps. 2200 pages, with just hours to try to read it.”
Senate Republicans have a narrow majority, and some members in their conference have expressed misgivings. Fiscally conservative Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., confirmed he would vote “no,” telling ABC News, “I don’t support grotesque things.”
Joe Gould is senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.