By Congressman Jim Banks
Navy Reserve Lieutenant, deployed to Afghanistan
Congress will soon have the chance to roll back the Biden administration’s politicization of the U.S. military. To pull it off, the Armed Services Committees must embrace bipartisanship, just as we have in the past.
The National Defense Authorization Act, Congress’s annual military authorization bill, is one of the least controversial bills produced in Washington. The NDAA first passed Congress in 1961.
In every year since, Congress has passed the law before the end of the calendar year with support from lawmakers of both parties. For more than 60 years, this bipartisan tradition has helped keep our military well funded and ready to respond to foreign threats.
The NDAA has been bipartisan for decades because it exclusively concerns the U.S. military, which has been equally apolitical.
Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.
At the bidding of the Biden administration, the Department of Defense bureaucracy has ditched its end of the bargain and entered the political arena.
Early in 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin launched an initiative to root out “domestic extremists” from the military.
Then, the Biden administration released a national security strategy that focused mostly on “climate risks,” while the Pentagon started calling politicized diversity, equity, and inclusion training a “strategic imperative.”
In the first years of this administration, thousands of service members were booted over a senseless and anti-scientific COVID vaccine mandate.
Most recently, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Biden Defense Department announced it would pay for service members’ abortion-related travel expenses.
Under Joe Biden, the Defense Department has become a political tool. That’s why, since Biden took over, public trust in our military has dropped by 20%.
It’s also why the Army still hasn’t recovered from its worst recruiting crisis in the history of the all-volunteer force.
Americans won’t enlist and agree to pay the ultimate sacrifice for their country if the military’s own position is that America is evil, racist, and not worth fighting for.
Our military will fail to compete with China so long as it wastes over 500,000 man-hours each year on diversity training, as it did in 2021, or focuses on pronouns and electric vehicle transitions instead of fighting and winning wars.
Joe Biden’s partisan, weaponized Pentagon has been a national security disaster. Fortunately, Congress is in a position to fix it.
In the coming week, Senate and House Armed Services Committee leaders will meet with the goal of merging both chambers’ NDAAs into a single, final version.
The House version of the NDAA goes a long way toward depoliticizing the military.
We passed my amendments to help reinstate service members fired over the COVID vaccine mandate, ban affirmative action at the service academies, cap the pay of DEI bureaucrats at the Pentagon, and crucially, to restore merit — and only merit — as the basis for military promotions and recruitment.
My colleagues in the Anti-Woke Caucus, Mike Waltz (R-Fla.), Greg Steube (R-Fla.), Mark Alford (R-Mo.), and Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), as well as many of the other Republicans on the Armed Services Committee, secured provisions to pull the military out of left-wing political causes such as abortion, gender ideology, and the Green New Deal.
Republicans and Democrats disagree on these social issues, of course, but we should be able to agree that they have nothing to do with our nation’s common defense. Therefore, they should be none of the U.S. military’s business.
This year, Congress must reject partisan meddling in the military.
We must refocus the Defense Department on its core mission by passing an NDAA that is aligned with our military’s apolitical roots.