WASHINGTON, D.C. (WGHP) – There may not have been unanimity among North Carolina’s elected officials in Washington when it comes to protecting marital rights, but ask them about the military, and they can get together.

All but two of the 13 representatives from North Carolina voted with the House majority to pass the National Defense Authorization Act, 350-80, which provides $847 billion for the Senate to consider.

The bill, which is about 3,000 pages, includes $817 billion for the Department of Defense and $30 billion for the Department to spend on nuclear initiatives.

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte), who in January will represent Davidson and Montgomery counties as part of the 8th Congressional District, and lame duck Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) were the only two to vote against the bill. Bishop in a statement said on his Twitter account that he voted no because the bill did not permanently repeal COVID-19 mandates in the military. He also didn’t like the new investment in support of Ukraine’s fight against invading Russia.

But one of Bishop’s fellow conservatives, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Moore County), who in January will represent Randolph County in the 9th Congressional District, said in a release that he supported the bill because it “rescinds the COVID-19 vaccine mandate and ends servicemember separations for failure to take the COVID-19 vaccine,” for which he had argued.

He also said the bill bolsters “our nation’s defense capabilities and improving the quality of life of military servicemembers and their families.”

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) (Courtesy of US House of Representatives)
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro)
Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Moore County)

All five Democrats supported the bill, and in a statement, Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) said that “this bipartisan legislation makes key investments to improve the lives of service members and military families while strengthening our national security.”

Hudson and Manning both touted requirements by the DOD, the State Department and USAID Inspector Generals to carry out regular reviews and audits of assistance provided to Ukraine, and they mentioned that the bill provides:

  • A 4.6% pay increase for servicemembers, $500 million designated to counteract “skyrocketing” rent for military families and $250 million to reduce costs of food and other necessities at commissaries.
  • Expansion of eligibility for Basic Needs Allowance for low-income servicemembers supporting a family and access to mental health services and suicide prevention programs for servicemembers.
  • Reinforcement for parents of children attending DoD schools to have the right to review curriculum, instructional materials, and disciplinary policies and provides $50 million for Impact Aid assistance to local schools with military-dependent students and $20 million to help families with children with severe disabilities.
  • Places stricter oversight of issues involving sexual assault.

What it means for Fort Bragg

Hudson, who calls himself “Fort Bragg’s congressman,” also praised $80 million for construction, $11 million for school modernization and $11.1 million for a child development center and Albritton Middle School.

Manning offered a list of her amendments to the bill and reinforced the national security aspects. She also touted a new investment in clean energy and energy efficiency at the Department of Defense.

“This defense bill provides needed investments for Fort Bragg and military families, while also ensuring our military is free of needless measures that undermine recruitment, readiness, and the freedoms of our military servicemembers,” Hudson said in his release. “I will always work to support our troops and their families, as well as to protect our fundamental rights as Americans.”

Said Manning: “This legislation also ensures our service members have access to the latest defense technologies, so they are well-equipped to combat foreign threats. I proudly authored four amendments in this year’s defense bill, including amendments to bolster research at HBCUs, like North Carolina A&T State University in our community, crack down on China’s forced-labor policies, and promote the health of military families stationed overseas.” 

Key staffers named

Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), who will be leaving his seat in the 13th Congressional District to replace retiring Richard Burr in the U.S. Senate, and Hudson made appointments to top staff positions:

  • Budd named veteran Congressional staffer Tucker Knott as his chief of staff and Chad Yelinski as Knott’s deputy. Tucker Knott and Chad Yelinski both bring a lot of valuable experience to the table and will build a strong team to help accomplish good things for the people of North Carolina,” Budd said in a release. “Tucker already enjoys solid relationships with key leaders across North Carolina. He’ll hit the ground running on day one in support of the working families of North Carolina. Chad is a great leader in my Congressional office and will continue to play an important role for North Carolina in the US Senate. Chad’s policy expertise and familiarity with US Senate legislative process will be invaluable as we move forward.”
  • Hudson, who will be fourth in line in House leadership, promoted Chief of Staff Billy Constangy to leadership chief of staff and replaced him with Elliott Guffin, a staff member since 2016, most recently as legislative director. Guffin’s role will be assumed by Molly (Brimmer) Lolli, and Georgia Lozier has been named deputy chief of staff based in Hudson’s district office in Southern Pines. “I am fortunate to have an incredible leadership team and staff focused on serving the people of North Carolina,” Hudson said.


State Rep. Ashton Clemmons
  • District 57 state Rep. Ashton Wheeler Clemmons (D-Greensboro) will serve as deputy leader of the Democratic House Caucus for the 2023-24 session, she announced in a release. “I am honored to serve our North Carolina House Democratic Caucus and the people of our great state as deputy leader,” he said. “I look forward to the long session where we will work to solve problems and help improve the lives of North Carolinians.”
  • Gov. Roy Cooper made three leadership appointments as well: Alicia Davis was named director of legislative affairs, succeeding LT McCrimmon. Pryor Gibson will serve as senior legislative adviser, and Tracy Lovett has been named director of the Office of Public Engagement and Inclusion.
  • A High Point University Poll conducted after the election gave Cooper a job approval rating of 48%, with 28% disapproving and 24% with no opinion. President Joe Biden had a 32% positive rating, with 51% disapproval. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said the country is off on the wrong track, and about 1 in 5 said it’s headed in the right direction.
  • A group called the Center for Legislative Accountability said it had examined all 7,400 state lawmakers, more than 265,000 individual votes on some 3,500 state-level bills and reinforced the polarization of political decision-making. The 3,906 Republicans voted conservative 80.89% of the time last year, up about 4.5% from 2020, the group found. The 3,223 Democrats reduced their support of conservative issues from 18.7% to 15.9% In ranking legislatures, North Carolina’s General Assembly ranked the 15th most conservative, trailing No. 1 Alabama and a list of mostly Southern states. Massachusetts was the least conservative. Republicans next year will have a supermajority in the NC Senate and be one vote sort in the House.