House Narrowly Passes Defense Policy Bill with Measures to Restrict Pentagon’s Diversity and Inclusion Efforts and Abortion Agenda

In a closely contested vote, the House of Representatives has approved a defense policy bill that includes provisions aimed at significantly reducing the impact of the Pentagon’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, as well as its stance on abortion.

The bill’s passage indicates a contentious debate among lawmakers regarding these issues and underscores the ongoing tension surrounding the role of social issues within military policy.

Four Democrats broke ranks to support the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023, despite late amendments overturning the Department of Defense (DOD) abortion travel coverage policy, diversity administrative roles, DOD funding for sex-change treatments and race-based admissions at military academies, for a vote count of 219 to 210, the record shows. Republicans said the bill would strengthen national security by focusing on countering China while stripping the military of wokeness.

“The threat we face from China is the most pressing national security threat we’ve faced in decades – the FY24 NDAA is laser-focused on countering China. The FY24 NDAA protects our homeland from threats by investing in a stronger missile defense and modernizing our nuclear deterrent,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers of Alabama said in a statement.

Republican Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Andy Biggs and Eli Crane of Arizona voted no, according to Punchbowl News.

The bill includes an amendment limiting the flags permitted to fly at a military installation.

Earlier, members overwhelmingly rejected a provision sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene of Georgia overwhelmingly banning the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine, and another blocking all military assistance to Ukraine spearheaded by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.

“What was once an example of compromise and functioning government has become an ode to bigotry and ignorance,” House Armed Services Committee ranking member Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington said in a statement late Thursday pledging to vote against final passage.

Agreeing to include conservative amendments helped persuade members of the Freedom Caucus to disavow their typical voting patterns and the House’s version of the bill, according to Politico.

The House version will face a crucible of compromise with the Democrat-controlled Senate’s version of the bill. Many of the conservative amendments could be stripped or mellowed out by the time Congress votes on the final legislation, Politico reported.

“I take solace in the fact that this is not going to become law and we have an opportunity to correct it,” Smith told the outlet after the vote. “But it’s really very disturbing how divisive all this has become, the degree to which the Republican majority wants to attack diversity.”

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