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Progressives lose defense bill battle to expand military abortions, but win on many ‘woke’ priorities


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Progressive Democrats were sidelined Wednesday in their bid to expand abortion within the military, but Republicans say Congress and the White House are nonetheless successfully prioritizing “wake-up ideology” over national security. .

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have moved aggressively in recent days to insert partisan priorities, including abortion, into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The mandatory bill sets military policy and spending levels for the Pentagon and other agencies on the country’s national defense infrastructure.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until our federal budget is distributed fairly,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat. “More guns and tanks are no use to Americans without housing, education or health care.”

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The Pentagon, headquarters of the Department of Defense.
(Department of Defense photo by Master Sgt Ken Hammond, US Air Force)

Not everyone agreed, including most Democrats.

The House Rules Committee, a panel closely controlled by Democratic leaders, blocked an amendment to allow abortions to be performed on military bases. Similarly, an amendment was also introduced that would allow the Pentagon to use tax dollars to fund abortions.

“This needs to be bipartisan,” House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in explaining the decisions.

Progressives, likewise, are unlikely to achieve their goal of cutting defense spending. While two amendments, which would keep defense spending steady at $778 billion or cut it by $100 billion, have been scheduled for a vote, few expect them to pass.

Instead, the House is poised to advance a bill that guarantees nearly $840 billion for the Defense Department, $30 billion more even than the White House initially proposed. Senior Democrats said the boost was needed to offset rising fuel prices and inflation, as well as military and economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine fundamentally altered our national security posture and what our defense posture should be,” said House Armed Forces Chairman Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat. “It made it more complicated and it made it more expensive.”

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin delivers a speech while hosting a meeting of the Ukrainian Security Advisory Group at Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein, Germany.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin delivers a speech while hosting a meeting of the Ukrainian Security Advisory Group at Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein, Germany.
(AP/Michael Probst)

Republicans were quick to argue, however, that just because progressives failed to win on the bill doesn’t mean it’s a good deal overall. Many criticized the bill for pandering to “awakened” ideology, specifically related to climate change and gender.

The NDAA prioritizes the military’s transition from fossil fuels to electric vehicles and allocates money to NATO allies to bolster “climate resilience.” It also creates a gender advisory task force within the Pentagon to boost military recruitment among women. And the bill allows the Department of Defense’s health plan for service members to cover emergency medications, including abortion-inducing drugs.

Conservatives also note that the $840 billion legislation is riddled with donations to special interests and other questionable uses of taxpayer money. The bill directs the Department of Defense to create a pilot program to research and develop plant-based proteins and other alternatives to meat and poultry.

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In addition, the bill creates a special grant program to train foreign military personnel on how to recruit women and combat sexual harassment, while allowing the Pentagon to foot the bill for foreign officers to attend training and conferences on the subject. .

Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Texas and a leading figure on the House Freedom Caucus, complained that the bill took no steps to prohibit enforcement of President Biden’s vaccine mandate for troops. Implementation of the mandate has been blocked in the private sector by the Supreme Court.

At least 40,000 unvaccinated Army National Guard soldiers alone are barred from participating in federally funded exercise drills and drills because of the mandate.

“This mandate is putting our national security at risk for no reason,” said Rep. Pete Stauber, a Republican from Minnesota.

President Biden receives a COVID-19 booster shot during an event in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus on September 27, 2021.

President Biden receives a COVID-19 booster shot during an event in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus on September 27, 2021.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

While Roy and other members of the conservative Freedom Caucus plan to oppose the bill, most Republican lawmakers will vote to pass it. Many are doing it to advance the bill to a conference committee where negotiators have to reconcile the House version with one previously approved by the Senate.

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Rep. Mike Rogers, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said that process would remove partisan priorities from the NDAA to secure the 10 Senate Republicans needed for passage in the Senate.

“As in previous years, we will work with those who are at the conference and weed out those who don’t need to come back,” he said.



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