The passage of the amendment on Greece filed by Congresswoman Grace Meng in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) did not cause much surprise in the corridors of Congress. The bipartisan support enjoyed by the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) between the US and Greece is widely known, while many Congress members look favourably on its further expansion.
It must be clarified, however, that this particular amendment has not yet been adopted and its final outcome remains to be seen. The fact that the US has two legislatures means that along with the House, the Senate is required to pass its own version of the NDAA bill. However, in what the Senate has already voted for, there is no corresponding amendment.
This is extremely common in the law-making process, as according to standard practice it is not necessary to have identical versions of the bill at this level.
We are now in the next phase, where the two legislative bodies are in conference in order to “ reconcile” the two different versions and form a final text, which will be sent to President Joe Biden for signing. However, this composition process involves difficult negotiations that are influenced by the general climate of polarisation prevailing in the US and go beyond the content of the individual amendments themselves. Bearing this in mind, it remains to be seen whether the amendment of Representative Grace Meng will eventually be in the final text of the NDAA that will reach the Oval Office.
From there, the amendment asks the US government (the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State) to prepare a report that will essentially be an overview of the implementation of the MDCA. In particular, it will investigate, among other things, the possibilities that exist for the expansion of the American military presence in Greece, making special reference to the islands. For the maturation of this specific idea, there is still a long political road ahead.
Regardless of whether the Meng amendment will be adopted or not, what is certain is that its unanimous approval by the House shows the importance that lawmakers attach to the defense agreement with Greece and the interest that exists in its extension.