Sounds like a dream
House Republicans moved Tuesday to block the Department of Veterans Affairs from providing abortion services, flying LGBTQ+ pride flags at its facilities, and providing gender-affirmation surgery or hormones to transgender veterans.
The effort, made by GOP lawmakers in the annual VA spending bill, aims to stop the agency from following policies it sees as welcoming to women and LGBTQ+ people. Gay civil rights, transgender health care and abortion have all come under increasing attack from politicians on the right ahead of the 2024 presidential race.
The amendment to the spending bill barring the VA activities — approved in a party-line 34-27 vote in the House Appropriations Committee — takes aim at Biden administration policies that Republicans have spent months griping about. They vowed to roll back the policies when they took the House majority at the beginning of the year. . . .
. . . .In response to last year’s Supreme Court ruling that has allowed states to ban abortion, the VA last year started offering abortions for the first time in cases of rape, incest, or where the life or health of the mother is at risk from the pregnancy. As of February, the VA has provided 34 abortions under the policy, the department told Congress in a letter in March.
The VA and Democratic lawmakers maintain the VA’s abortion policy is allowed by a 1996 law that requires the department to give needed medical care to veterans.
But Republicans immediately cried foul at the policy, arguing it violates a 1992 law that directed the VA to provide reproductive health care except for “infertility services, abortions or pregnancy care,” unless that care is needed because of a service-connected condition. . . .
. . . . The amendment approved Tuesday also targets some LGBTQ+-focused policies, which Republicans nationwide have increasingly taken aim at. Republican state legislatures have particularly targeted transgender rights with hundreds of bills introduced this year across the country.
The appropriations amendment would prohibit the VA from providing “surgical procedures or hormone therapies for the purposes of gender affirming care.” Doing so would not only block a yet-to-be implemented policy on surgery the Biden administration announced two years ago, it would also roll back coverage for hormone therapy the VA has offered since 2013. . . .
. . . .The House measure would also prohibit the VA from flying any flag “other than the flag of the United States, the flag of a state, territory, or District of Columbia, the flag of an Indian tribal government, the flag of the department, the flag of an armed force, or the POW/MIA flag.”
While the amendment does not specifically mention the Pride Flag, it comes after Republicans complained that the VA was displaying the rainbow flag at facilities this month, and Appropriations Committee members made clear that barring that flag is the intention of the amendment.
Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., who said he proposed the flag language, argued the amendment is needed to ensure the “work and the message of the VA is not divisive, is not controversial and is not promoting a particular gender ideology, but rather is respect[ful] of our veterans.”
The amendment would also prohibit “any discriminatory action” from being taken against someone who believes “that marriage is, or should be recognized as, a union of one man and one woman.” And it would block any funding from being used for the “purposes of diversity, equity, and inclusion training or implementation.” . . . . . (read more on Military.com)
House GOP declares war on ‘woke’ in advancing Pentagon budget (Washington Examiner, 16 Jun 23)
Committee Approves FY24 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Bill (House Appropriations Committee, 13 JUN 23)
Today, the Full Committee met to consider the Fiscal Year 2024 bill for the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. The measure was approved by the Committee with a vote of 34 to 27. . . .
. . . . • Focuses the Executive Branch on its core responsibilities by: Including new provisions prohibiting funds to lobby Congress, promote or advance critical race theory, and carry out divisive Executive Orders.
. . . During the markup, Committee Republicans refused amendments offered by the Democrats that would have:
- Dropped longstanding provisions prohibiting the closure of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay and the use of military construction funds to build a detention center in the United States or territories, which would have allowed the transfer of dangerous terrorists to U.S. soil.
- Funded unnecessary and polarizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
- Promoted or advanced critical race theory.
. . . Adopted Amendments include: Carter (En Bloc) – includes Hyde language that prevents federal funding for abortions except in cases of incest, rape, or life of the mother; blocks further implementation of the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Interim Final Rule on abortion; prohibits Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training and implementation, prohibits funding for hormone therapies or surgeries for gender-affirming care; protects Americans against religious discrimination; and allows only certain flags to be flown over VA facilities. . .
A summary of the bill is available here.
- Prohibits the implementation, administration, or enforcement of the Biden Administration’s executive orders on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
- Defunds the position of Deputy Inspector General for Diversity and Inclusion and Extremism in the Military.
- Prohibits the use of funds to perform medical procedures that attempt to change an individual’s biological gender.
- Prohibits the use of funds for events on military installations or as part of recruiting programs that bring discredit upon the military, such as a drag queen story hour for children or the use of drag queens as military recruiters.
- Prohibits the use of funds to promote or advance Critical Race Theory (CRT).
- Prohibits censoring constitutionally protected speech of Americans.
- Protects Americans against religious discrimination.
- Prohibits the recruitment, hiring, or promotion of any person who has been convicted of charges related to child pornography or other sexual misconduct.
- Prohibits the use of funds for paid leave and travel or related expenses of a federal employee or their dependents for the purposes of obtaining an abortion or abortion-related services.
- Prohibits granting, renewing, or maintaining of a security clearance for any individual listed as a signatory in the statement titled “Public Statement on the Hunter Biden Emails” dated October 19, 2020.
- Directs clear Departmental guidance on professional license portability and improvements for measuring military spouse employment.
- Requires the deliberate, cost-effective, and transparent clean-up of environmental contaminations at current and former defense sites.