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Stakes Are Set for Showdown on Military Funding

Posted on Friday, August 11, 2023
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by Neil Banerji
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AMAC Exclusive – By Neil Banerji

Joe Biden looks at military soldiers for funding

Perhaps the biggest looming battle when Congress returns from August recess is the passage of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – and specifically funding for far-left social programs that Democrats are determined to include.

Historically, the military funding bill has been one of the few areas of bipartisan agreement in Congress. Last year, for instance, the FY 2023 NDAA passed the House by a final vote of 384-37 (Democrats were 215-0 in favor, while Republicans split 169-37 in favor). The Senate vote was equally lopsided at 83 to 11, with six senators not voting.

This year, however, things aren’t so harmonious. On July 14, the House passed its version of the FY 2024 NDAA with a topline number of $886 billion largely along party lines thanks to several amendments targeting woke policies in the military.

Three specific provisions in the house bill roiled Democrats while at the same time rallying Republican support.

The first would undo DOD travel reimbursements for service members who want to travel to seek elective abortions. As many red states have enacted pro-life laws while blue states have moved in the opposite direction toward unrestricted abortion-on-demand, Republicans have argued that federal taxpayer dollars should not fund travel for elective abortions.

Another amendment would end military funding of transgender surgeries and hormone treatments for service members. Currently, military health insurance provides coverage for dangerous and experimental “gender reassignment” operations – which can cost upwards of $200,000 each.

Finally, House Republicans moved to eliminate so-called “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI) programming in the military. In recent months, whistleblower reports and congressional investigations have exposed that DEI is often a cover for pushing divisive far-left ideologies, including Critical Race Theory, in the military. In one incident earlier this year, the Pentagon disbanded a DEI unit after repeated accusations of anti-white racism.

Notably, the House bill also created more robust congressional oversight tools to audit military spending and ensure that Pentagon leaders are held accountable. In addition, it included a 5.2 percent pay raise for service members, $9.1 billion for various initiatives aimed at competing with China, and $300 million for Ukraine.

House Republicans celebrated “cutting the woke out of the military,” but Democrats were apoplectic. House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA) called the bill “disgusting and outrageous” – likely a ringing endorsement for conservatives. House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, meanwhile, accused Republicans of “wanting to live in the 1950s.”

The final vote count on the bill in the House was 219-210, with four Republicans breaking and voting against it but four Democrats breaking and voting in favor of it.

The bill next headed to the Democrat-controlled Senate where, as predicted, many of the House’s anti-woke provisions were stripped out. The upper chamber passed its own version on July 27 just before heading out the door for August recess by a vote of 86-11. Six Democrats, four Republicans, and one Independent (Bernie Sanders) opposed the package.

Although the heated partisan rhetoric over the bill has died down somewhat with lawmakers home for the month, expect it to ramp up considerably in the coming weeks. When Congress returns, leaders from the House and Senate will have to hammer out a compromise bill that can pass both chambers.

The key player to watch here will be House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can lose a considerable number of votes in the Senate and still pass the measure, McCarthy is engaged in a tightrope act with just a four-seat margin, and is already on thin ice with many in his own caucus.

Earlier this year, many Republican members were furious when McCarthy cut a deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling. In retaliation, nearly a dozen Republicans sank a routine procedural vote in a major embarrassment for McCarthy.

Now, McCarthy will be under serious pressure to keep as many of the GOP’s priorities in the final bill as possible. He could allow most of them to be stripped out and still pass the bill with unified Democratic support and just a handful of Republicans. But that kind of betrayal risks permanently turning the conservative House Freedom Caucus against him, and might even prompt a vote for his ouster as Speaker.

On the other hand, keeping all of the House amendments in the bill will be a non-starter for Senate Democrats. Like McCarthy, Schumer won’t want to alienate too many members of his caucus, and will need a bill that is palatable to a large majority of senators.

Political dynamics aside, Republicans also must consider the legitimate national security risks associated with continuing to allow wokeness to spread unchecked in the military. Every branch is experiencing a recruitment crisis, even as America’s adversaries grow more aggressive on the world stage. While Democrats have accused Republicans of wanting to use military funding as a weapon in the culture war, the reality is that it’s also a matter of ensuring the military’s ability to defend U.S. interests at home and abroad.

One way or another, the weeks after Congress returns from summer break may be among the most consequential in recent history for the direction of the military.

Neil Banerji is a proud Las Vegas resident and former student at the University of Oxford. In his spare time, he enjoys reading Winston Churchill and Edmund Burke.

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anna hubert
anna hubert
11 months ago

This reads like some absurd fantasy from the bowels of madness This is USA and it’s army ?God help us

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
11 months ago

END Woke Now

Mal
Mal
11 months ago

We use to be a united people that put country first, but not anymore. The Democrat party has been taken over (bought) by outside sources (George Soros?) and not the same party of FDR, Truman or Kennedy. As a result many Democrat politicians have switched to the GOP. The left did a snow job on their voters by running the two least popular candidates at their Democratic Convention (1% each!) yet were never questioned why when there were others with far more votes! THAT is control!

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
11 months ago

…but if you watch CNN all they’ll report is how Republicans are “stonewalling military funding and delaying promotions”. These days, I bet its easier to get “gender reassignment” at the VA then it is to get an MRI for my back. I already know it takes 45 days for just an appointment….

USN Retired
USN Retired
11 months ago

If we get attacked, we can just throw our Bud Lights at them.

Pete from St Pete
Pete from St Pete
11 months ago

Instead of making the military into a social experiment, let’s concentrate on how we are going to invest enough to compete with a Chinese navy that has built five times as many ships as we have (and is still building more). We are spending a lower percentage of our GDP on military procurement then ever since the Cold War. Every year the Air Force has to reduce the number of new front line warplanes needed to confront the ever growing Chinese air forces. China is said to be undergoing severe economic problems. Now is the time to increase our military spending and force them into economic decline just as Reagan did to the Russians.

John Shipway
John Shipway
11 months ago

Let the swamp play……….”they” have won and the country as it was founded is gone, destroyed and “un-fixable”.
Soon, the great minds that lead us will get us into a conflict with China which as is the norm, we will lose abysmally. A conflict with China is necessary as a vain attempt at forcing the world to stand gape jawed in awe of the great hegemony we never really were.
America hasn’t participated in a war that was won since 1945 and even then we only jumped in when economically important and essentially after the Nazis were defeated and as for the Japanese, they were defeated before WE started the war in that theater. Yes, we started that conflict with the complete blockade of Japan, an island nation with no energy sources and thus reliant on trade. We cut them off and then they responded as any nation would. Also regarding that theater of war, research “The McCullum Memorandum”. No, we haven’t been what we have been told we are since well before anyone we have ever met was alive. The real enemy has been met and it is we.
So, who cares? Congress will give this new pseudo military what it wants and it will be in a bill laden with woke pork and no,there will never be any “accountability” in the bill or at least none with any teeth so, with no effect. Who cares about the cost? Its all magic money printed for now but forever backed by NOTHING but our own debt and that of our “allies” we seem to continually enjoy stabbing in the back.
Most importantly, continue believing the narrative forced upon you. Like it or not, you WILL comply or you most certainly will either die or be put into a position where you will wish you had.

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