(Press Release) During Wednesday’s House Armed Services Committee (HASC) hearing on the “FY24 Defense Budget Request,” U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01) grilled Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley on Drag Queen Story Hours occurring on U.S. military installations across the country.
In response, SecDef Austin, without evidence, claimed Drag Queen Story Hours were not occurring on military installations.
When confronted with the evidence, he repeated the misstatements.
During the same exchange, General Milley admitted he was “unaware” these events were occurring on installations but committed to ending Drag Queen Story Hours on military installations altogether.
The video and rough transcript of the exchange can be found HERE and below.
Rep. Gaetz has repeatedly challenged SecDef Austin and General Milley on their continued failure in leadership over the U.S. Armed Services.
In July 2021, Rep. Gaetz took SecDef Austin to task for his politicized role in leading the Department of Defense (DoD) to embrace and teach “woke” ideology, Critical Race Theory, at our nation’s military academies. SecDef Austin denied the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the military.
However, a month prior in front of the same House Armed Services Committee, General Milley publicly defended the U.S. military’s teaching of Critical Race Theory and expressed a longing to internally reflect on his “White rage.”
During a HASC hearing in September of 2021, Rep. Gaetz held General Milley and SecDef Austin accountable for the botched U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan the month prior.
Rep. Gaetz pointed out that General Milley spent more time with Bob Woodward on the production of the book “Peril” than analyzing the very likelihood of the Afghan government collapsing.
While SecDef Austin and General Milley encourage wokeness in our military, America’s capabilities are falling behind.
During an April 2022 HASC hearing on “Operations in Cyberspace and Building Cyber Capabilities Across the Department of Defense,” SecDef Austin infamously denied that America is lagging behind China in hypersonic capabilities, despite the Biden Administration’s own Secretary of the Air Force and Commander of the U.S. European Command, as well as former HASC Chairman Adam Smith, all publicly acknowledging that China is more capable than the U.S. in the hypersonics arms race.
In the midst of a recruitment and retention crisis in the military, Biden’s military leaders prioritized targeting and removing service members who sought exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine.
At last month’s HASC hearing on “COVID-19’s Impact on DoD and Its Servicemembers,” Defense Under Secretary for “Personnel and Readiness” Gilbert Cisneros disgracefully signaled that the Biden Administration’s military has no plan to actively reach out and bring back service members discharged for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
During the HASC markup of the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last year, Rep. Gaetz introduced an amendment to express the Sense of Congress that service members who were separated from the military after rejecting the COVID-19 vaccine mandate should be reinstated with their full rank and pay.
Congressman Matt Gaetz: Mr. Secretary, you told Senator Schmidt yesterday that if the 8000 Plus service members who’ve been separated from the military due to the vaccine mandate, want to reapply that they’re welcome to do so. But that you would do nothing to solicit their re application or to incentivize it. Why is that?
Lloyd Austin: I think it’s incumbent upon the individual to make that decision. And we apply that but mechanisms are there.
Congressman Matt Gaetz: Yeah. But why don’t I mean, you’re overseeing a recruiting nightmare. And our military right now, these are 8000 patriots. And by the way, your department broke the law and administering the vaccine mandate. And that’s not me saying so that’s the Inspector General for the Department of Defense, who wrote in on June 2 of 2022, we found a trend of generalized assessments rather than the individualized assessment that is required by federal law,
Lloyd Austin: The department did not break the law.
Congressman Matt Gaetz: Do you have any ideas is wrong? You think the mandate, he says he broke the law lives of a number of ruin the lives of a number of people too, and it ruin the lives of people who love our country and want to reenlist? Let me ask you this question. If we direct you by force of law, to reengage and incentivize the RE enlistment of these folks with full back pay and rank, do you have the capability to follow that instruction,
Lloyd Austin: You put provisions in the law to enable those those people to those former service members to reapply in accordance with the service man service?
Congressman Matt Gaetz: Well, we will do that, just like we had to put the repeal of the VAX mandate in the law. And I get the sense that the only reason you’re not reaching out to these folks is pride, because otherwise they would be totally able to serve and it seems that your personal pride is getting in the way. So going from the deeply serious things that we’re not doing reengaging these 8000 folks to the deeply unserious things that we are doing, Gordon put up the first slide. I guess my question is, how much taxpayer money should go to fund drag queen story hours on military bases?
Lloyd Austin: You know, drag drag queen story hours is not something that that apartment funds.
Congressman Matt Gaetz: Well, wait a second, that’s actually not what the record seems to suggest. You’re going to find one at Ramstein Air Force Base. That one got canceled, but that’s DoD insignia. That’s a drag queen story hour for children. Then also at Mount strim Air Force Base. Outside of Great Falls Montana, you had a drag queen story hour for kids at the Joint Base Langley Eustis you put on a drag queen story hour on a Saturday for the first ever kid friendly diversity equity inclusion summer festival and at Nellis Air Force Base. You had the drag you Nellis on June 17, who funded these things, Mr. Secretary,
Lloyd Austin: Listen, drag shows and are not something that the Department of Defense supports or funds.
Congressman Matt Gaetz: Well, why are they happening on military bases? I just I just showed you the evidence. Why are they happening?
Lloyd Austin: I will say again, this is not something that we support or fun.
Congressman Matt Gaetz: You so you think hosting a drag queen story hour on a military base isn’t supporting the drag queen story hour.
Lloyd Austin: I stand by what I just said.
Congressman Matt Gaetz: You may stand by it, but it’s belied by the evidence over and over again. I mean, are you aware of the piece? Biden’s military air force base in Montana holds drag show drag queen story hour for kids in the western journal? Are you aware of that?
Lloyd Austin: Again, I will say what
Congressman Matt Gaetz: You’re saying what you’re saying but I guess it just doesn’t comport the facts. General Milley this will be my last time to question you. You mentioned two years ago that you wanted to better understand white rage. And so my question is this. Did you read this book?
Mark Milley: No, not at all? Well…
Congressman Matt Gaetz: It is what is white privilege is the book. And it’s actually written by a DOD official, a senior official in diversity, equity and inclusion. And there are now hundreds of these books in dozens of schools. And I wonder if you guys connect this to your problems with recruiting…
Mark Milley: I’ve never read it, never seen it. Frankly, I don’t even think about that stuff. I think about what…
Congressman Matt Gaetz: Up the next, go and put up the next slide. So the force couldn’t put up the next slide, please. Okay, well, in in the next slide. This is a tweet by one of your employees in charge of diversity, equity and inclusion. And it’s patently racist. They say that she had to give care in the business that she talks about called dasa D presumably, of Caucasian people. So why does the…
Mark Milley: Look at why is that argument for me? That’s terrible. It’s wrong. She shouldn’t be doing that parents should be fired. I don’t. That’s a DOD employee. Not US military uniform. Do I should I invite Austin?
Lloyd Austin: Again, as you heard at your subcommittee, Here this this incident was investigated, and, and they’re…
Congressman Matt Gaetz: Still employed. Mr. Chairman, I have a series of consent request since my time has expired but objections. First is joint base Langley. Eustis holds a drag show at kid friendly festival. And the next is US military defense drag show at largest training center as quote, essential to morale. And the next is Nellis Air Force Base hosts first ever drag queen show essential to morale and readiness. That’s the Breitbart piece. And finally, Ramstein cancels libraries drag queen storytime for Pride Month Following criticism objectives. What are Jim was time’s expired?
Mark Milley: Can I just can I get copies of those? Because I’d like to take a look at those myself actually take a look and find out what actually is going on there. Because that’s the first I’m hearing about that kind of stuff. I don’t read those news stories. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’d like to take a look at those because I don’t agree with those. Well, they’re now I think those your record shouldn’t be happening.
Congressman Matt Gaetz: Thank you. Thank you for that admission.
Lloyd Austin: Great. I would like to point out Chairman that our our students and DoDEA schools scored the highest on the eighth graders and fourth graders scored the highest in math and reading in the country. So I want to thank all of the all of our DoDEA professionals who made that possible. And I encourage them to keep it I hope you’re…