UNITED STATES NEWS

House Republicans push through defense bill limiting abortion access and halting diversity efforts

Jul 14, 2023, 8:12 AM | Updated: 10:04 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House passed a sweeping defense bill Friday that provides an expected 5.2% pay raise for service members but strays from traditional military policy with Republicans add-ons blocking abortion coverage, diversity initiatives at the Pentagon and transgender care that deeply divided the chamber.

Democrats voted against the package, which had sailed out of the House Armed Services Committee on an almost unanimous vote weeks ago before being loaded with the GOP priorities during a heated late-night floor debate this week.

The final vote was 219-210, with four Democrats siding with the GOP and four Republicans opposed. The bill, as written, is expected to go nowhere in the Democratic-majority Senate.

Efforts to halt U.S. funding for who is singularly stalling Senate confirmation of military officers, including the new commandant of the Marine Corps.

“We are continuing to block the Biden administration’s ‘woke’ agenda,” said Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.

Turning the must-pass defense bill into a partisan battleground shows how deeply the nation’s military has been unexpectedly swept up in disputes over race, equity and women’s health care that are now driving the Republican Party’s priorities in America’s widening national divide.

During one particularly tense moment in the debate, Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, spoke of how difficult it was to look across the aisle as Republicans chip away at gains for women, Black people and others in the military.

“You are setting us back,” she said about an amendment from Rep. Eli Crane, R-Ariz., that would prevent the Defense Department from requiring participation in race-based training for hiring, promotions or retention.

Crane argued that Russia and China do not mandate diversity measures in their military operations and neither should the United States. “We don’t want our military to be a social experiment,” he said. “We want the best of the best.”

When Crane used the pejorative phrase “colored people” for Black military personnel, Beatty asked for his words to be stricken from the record.

Friday’s voted capped a tumultuous week for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as conservatives essentially drove the agenda, forcing their colleagues to consider their ideas for the annual bill that has been approved by Congress unfailingly since World War II.

“I think he’s doing great because we are moving through — it was like over 1,500 amendments — and we’re moving through them,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. She told reporters she changed her mind to support the bill after McCarthy offered her a seat on the committee that will be negotiating the final version with the Senate.

Democrats, in a joint leadership statement, said they were voting against the bill because Republicans “turned what should be a meaningful investment in our men and women in uniform into an extreme and reckless legislative joyride.”

“Extreme MAGA Republicans have chosen to hijack the historically bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act to continue attacking reproductive freedom and jamming their right-wing ideology down the throats of the American people,” said the statement from Reps. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Pete Aguilar of California.

The defense bill authorizes $874.2 billion in the coming year for the defense spending, keeping with President Joe Biden’s budget request. The funding itself is to be allocated later, when Congress handles the appropriation bills, as is the normal process.

The package sets policy across the Defense Department, as well as in aspects of the Energy Department, and this year focuses particularly on the U.S. stance toward China, Russia and other national security fronts.

Republican opposition to U.S. support for the cluster munitions that Biden just sent to help Ukraine battle Russia. It was a controversial move because the weapons, which can leave behind unexploded munitions endangering civilians, are banned by many other countries.

Most of those efforts to stop U.S. support for Ukraine failed. Proposals to roll back the Pentagon’s diversity and inclusion measures and block some medical care for transgender personnel were approved.

GOP Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas, who served as a White House physician, pushed forward the abortion measure that would prohibit the defense secretary from paying for or reimbursing expenses relating to abortion services.

Jackson and other Republicans praised Tuberville for his stand against the Pentagon’s abortion policy, which was thrust into prominence as states started banning the procedure after the Supreme Court decision last summer overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade law.

“Now he’s got support, he’s got back up here in the House,” Jackson said.

But it’s not at all certain that the House position will stand as the legislation moves to the Senate, which is preparing its own version of the bill. Senate Democrats have the majority but will need to work with Republicans on a bipartisan measure to ensure enough support for passage in their chamber.

McCarthy lauded the House for gutting “radical programs” that he said distract from the military’s purpose.

Democratic members of the House Armed Services Committee, led by Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, dropped their support due to the social policy amendments.

Smith, who is white, tried to explain to Crane and other colleagues why the Pentagon’s diversity initiatives were important in America, drawing on his own experience as a businessman trying to reach outside his own circle of contacts to be able to hire and gain deeper understanding of other people.

Smith lamented that the bill that the committee passed overwhelmingly “no longer exists. What was once an example of compromise and functioning government has become an ode to bigotry and ignorance.”

___

Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri, Stephen Groves and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

United States News

Associated Press

Safety regulators are investigating another low flight by a Southwest jet, this time in Florida

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal officials are investigating an incident in which a Southwest Airlines jet flew as low as 150 feet (45 meters) over water while it was still about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from its intended landing spot at the airport in Tampa, Florida. The pilots skipped over the Tampa airport and landed instead […]

2 minutes ago

FILE - A motorist passes by a flag of the Islamic State group in central Rawah, 175 miles (281 kilo...

Associated Press

UN envoy warns that threat of terrorism is `resurging’ with attacks by Islamic State extremists

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The top U.N. envoy for Syria told the Security Council on Monday that the threat of terrorism is “resurging” with attacks by Islamic State extremists set to double this year, endangering civilians already facing a “protracted state of displacement and dire humanitarian conditions.” U.N. Special Envoy Geir Pedersen said Syria is […]

6 minutes ago

Police vehicles park outside a JCPenney as they respond to a reported shooting at NorthPark Mall in...

Associated Press

Local sheriff says shots fired inside an Iowa mall

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Shots were fired inside an Iowa mall on Monday, a local sheriff said. There was no immediate word on any injuries. Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane confirmed the shooting Monday inside NorthPark Mall in Davenport, an east-central Iowa city near the border with Illinois, KWQC-TV reported. Authorities haven’t said if there […]

25 minutes ago

FILE - Founder & CEO, for California Forever Jan Sramek talks to reporters after a news conference ...

Associated Press

Silicon Valley-backed voter plan for a new California city won’t be on the November ballot after all

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A Silicon Valley-backed initiative to build a green city for up to 400,000 people in the San Francisco Bay Area on land now zoned for agriculture won’t be on the Nov. 5 ballot after all, officials said Monday. The California Forever campaign qualified for the ballot in June, but a Solano […]

25 minutes ago

Kimberly Cheatle, Director, U.S. Secret Service, testifies during a House Committee on Oversight an...

Associated Press

Conservatives use shooting at Trump rally to attack DEI efforts at Secret Service

As Congressional members on both sides of the aisle grilled U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle Monday on how a gunman was able to fire shots at former President Donald Trump in an assassination attempt, several Republican lawmakers seized on gender and the agency’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts as among the reasons for the […]

41 minutes ago

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks announces the Pentagon's new Arctic Strategy during a pr...

Associated Press

Pentagon Arctic report calls for more investment in sensors, equipment to keep up with Russia, China

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Defense Department must invest more to upgrade sensors, communications and space-based technologies in the Arctic to keep pace with China and Russia who are increasingly operating there, including in joint military exercises, a new Pentagon strategy says. Saying that now is “a critical time” for the Arctic, Deputy Defense Secretary […]

1 hour ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

House Republicans push through defense bill limiting abortion access and halting diversity efforts