« I take comfort in the fact that this won’t become law and we have an opportunity to correct it, » said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, of the path forward. “But it’s really very disturbing how divisive this has become, the degree to which the Republican majority wants to attack diversity. Bottom line. Attack trans people. Attack the women. Attack black people.
The quintessentially bipartisan bill dissolved on Thursday to an almost GOP-only extent, as the ugly fights over abortion, transgender medical care and diversity programs that showed up in other House bills were at the Center of the attention. When the right-wing bias became clear on the floor, Smith and other Democrats who had previously supported the NDAA on the Armed Services Committee derided the revamped bill as « an ode to bigotry and ignorance. » .
McCarthy needed the nearly unanimous support of the GOP in his five-seat majority to strike down the bill. McCarthy — who as a minority leader complained about Democrats who passed a party-line defense bill in 2019 because it failed « a test of whether they could put their radicalism aside and work across the aisle — and her team spent the week navigating the GOP wrangling over whether to hold votes on controversial amendments, which initially stalled the bill, and to minimize defections.
Once both the House and Senate pass their versions of the bill, lawmakers will craft a compromise version of the two. It is widely expected that most of the controversial provisions will be watered down to make them more palatable to the Democrat-controlled Senate.
“We know this bill is going nowhere in the Senate because it is disgusting and outrageous,” Minority Whip Catherine Clark (D-Mass.) he told CNN Friday. « Then we’ll have a chance to work with the Senate and bring back a national security bill that we can support. »
Adding conservative policies to the bill eventually won over members of the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives who rarely, if ever, vote for the defense bill.
« There is absolutely no reason a Republican should vote against this bill, » Armed Services chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) he said in the House Friday.
“Congressional oversight of the DOD will improve. It will improve the quality of life of our service members and their families,” he said. “And it will help build the ready, capable and lethal fighting force we need to deter the Communist Party of China.”
Representative. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), the chairman of the conservative Republican study committee, hailed the bill as « the first Republican-only NDAA since Eisenhower. »
The Senate, meanwhile, is ready to start the debate own defense law next week. That bill includes provisions that increase scrutiny of diversity programs, ask the Pentagon for more information on the legality of its abortion policies, and force the military to dispose of unused border wall materials it still has.
But that measure enjoys bipartisan support so far and cleared the Senate Armed Services Committee with only one vote against.
The clearest signal that Republicans would get their way came Thursday when the House narrowly adopted the rep. Ronny Jackson‘s (R-Texas) to block Pentagon policies that reimburse travel expenses for troops seeking abortions.
Democrats cabled that the proposal was a red line. The measure still passed by 221 to 213 votes, with only two Republicans breaking ranks.
The Republicans didn’t stop there. They have come forward with proposals to end coverage of transition surgeries and hormone treatments for transgender troops, gut diversity and inclusion programs, and limit the specific flags that can be flown at military installations, a move that would ban made of waving the pride flag.
The Armed Services Committee has already targeted a number of controversial issues in its June markup of the legislation. The panel endorsed GOP proposals to pave the way for the return of troops expelled for refusing the Covid-19 vaccine, by banning funding for drag shows at military bases and banning the promotion of critical race theory. The legislation still won the support of all but one Democratic committee.
However, some of the hardline efforts were defeated late Thursday evening.
Far right rep Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) The push to ban the transfer of US cluster bombs to Ukraine failed by a lopsided vote of 147-276. Greene’s largely symbolic amendment — cluster munitions have already been handed over to Ukraine after Biden’s decision — was supported by 98 Republicans and 49 Democrats.
Lawmakers rejected Rep. Matthew Gaetzthe effort to block any diversity, equity and inclusion training after nine Republicans sided with Democrats.
And Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) failed in his attempt to defund a Congressional-appointed commission charged with renaming Army bases and military properties named in honor of Confederate leaders. The effort has been largely symbolic as the panel has finished its work and most Army bases have already cleared Confederate names. However, the measure garnered 177 votes from House Republicans.
In all, the legislation authorizes $886 billion for national defense programs in fiscal year 2024, the same amount requested by President Joe Biden and equal to a spending cap set on defense spending in a recent capping agreement. of the debt.
The price includes $842 billion for the Pentagon and an additional $32 billion for nuclear weapons programs at the Department of Energy. The legislation does not actually provide for any funding, however, and must be followed by appropriations legislation.
Joe Gould and Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.