Pentagon personnel policies took center stage early on Wednesday in the House Armed Services Committee’s deliberations over its annual defense policy bill, with conservatives pushing to rein in programs they deem distractions from the military’s mission.
The Republican-led panel has muscled through a variety of amendments to blunt the penalties for troops who didn’t comply with the since-repealed military vaccine mandate and tamp down efforts to combat climate change.
The panel has also launched into a debate on blocking Pentagon programs aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion and targeting critical race theory.
The new GOP majority, under Armed Services Chair Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), will need to walk a narrow path between endorsing conservative policies in the annual National Defense Authorization Act and maintaining the support of Democrats who will be needed to pass the bill on the House floor next month.
The panel is set to consider more than 800 amendments to the bill, which would authorize $886 billion for national defense.
“We all have the same goal, to support the men and women who serve our nation. If we keep that goal in mind, I am very optimistic that the bill we report today will enjoy strong bipartisan support,” Rogers said as the panel opened its markup.
Republicans are expected to offer a variety of amendments during the marathon markup to rein in Pentagon policies to promote diversity and inclusion, combat extremism in the ranks and mitigate climate change. . . . . (read more on Politico)
GOP seeks to eliminate Pentagon’s chief diversity officer; Dems react with fury (The Hill, 21 Jun 23)
Republicans and Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee battled furiously Wednesday over several proposed measures that target diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and initiatives at the Pentagon during the regular markup of an annual defense bill.
Republicans offered amendments to the draft version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would eliminate the Pentagon’s chief diversity officer, cut off funding for DEI programs and enforce a review of DEI initiatives, among others.
The proposed amendments sparked fury from Democrats, who accused Republicans of widening divisions over race, gender identity and sexual orientation, ignoring legitimate national security needs to attack DEI and of hurting recruitment efforts by decreasing diversity initiatives.
Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), who is Black, battled with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who introduced two of the amendments, with the lawmakers often cutting each other off to get their points across.
Horsford blasted the DEI amendments as an attempt from the GOP to drive a “wedge” in the military.
“The military knows that diversity of our soldiers is actually our strength,” he said. “So why wouldn’t we include diversity, equity and inclusion? But this is not about that — this is about a wedge issue.”
Republicans hit back that DEI efforts were distracting the Pentagon from military readiness, hurting recruitment efforts and spreading divisions within the ranks.
Gaetz also argued that Congress essentially created its own problem with DEI in the military by authorizing the programs.
“I view this not as a wedge issue, not as divisive, but as remedial,” he said. “We have to go in and remediate the bad things that have happened as a consequence of this embrace of radical gender ideology and radical race ideology.” . . . (read more)[So it’s a ‘wedge’ to oppose DEI, which itself is divisive and drives a wedge between soldiers. ?? Different planets]
House Armed Services passes $874 billion defense bill targeting diversity, culture issues (The Hill, 22 JUN 23)
The House Armed Services Committee cleared the first major hurdle in the annual defense policy bill, passing the legislation on a 58-1 bipartisan vote despite contentious battles over amendments attacking diversity programs and other cultural issues at the Pentagon. . . .
. . . . The GOP is touting the bill as a major win against programs they object to at the Pentagon.
“We bleed green and fight for the same flag,” Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla) said in a tweet. “DoD should be mission and merit-focused, not focused on turning our ranks against each other based on skin color.”
One amendment from Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) forces the Biden administration to conduct a review of how transgender policies have affected service members.
Banks also successfully passed his amendment to ban the Navy’s Digital Ambassadorship program after a service member who moonlights as a drag queen was criticized by the GOP for participating in it.
Another, from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), prohibits the Pentagon from funding drag shows. Gaetz also offered an amendment to eliminate the Defense Department’s (DOD) chief diversity officer.
And Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) mustered through a provision creating a parental bill of rights for service members who put their children through military-affiliated schools — an amendment that her Democratic colleagues called overly broad and a Trojan horse to allow conservative parents to ban books or prevent certain material from being taught in school. . . . .(read more)