Rep. Jared Golden arrives at the U.S. Capitol

Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) arrives at the U.S. Capitol on June 15, 2023.

(Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Four House Dems Join GOP to Pass $886 Billion Military Bill Packed With Right-Wing Amendments

"It includes provisions to restrict access to abortion and transgender care for military members," said one advocacy group. "What an absolute disgrace."

Four House Democrats crossed the aisle on Friday and voted for an $886 billion military policy bill containing Republican amendments aimed at rolling back abortion access and gender-affirming care for service members, as well as a measure that would bar the Pentagon—a major emitter—from carrying out President Joe Biden's climate-related executive orders.

The four Democrats who joined 215 Republicans in voting yes on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) were Reps. Jared Golden (D-Maine.), Donald Davis (D-N.C.), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.), and Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.).

Four Republicans—Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)—voted against the legislation.

The bill's passage came after a heated amendment process during which Republicans advanced a slew of proposals designed to prevent the renaming of military facilities named after Confederate soldiers, eliminate Pentagon diversity programs, end the Defense Department's reimbursement of service members who travel to obtain abortion care, and stop the agency from covering gender-affirming care for trans service members.

The latter three amendments were included in the final legislation.

The final House bill also includes Republican amendments that would penalize defense contractors for taking part in boycotts against Israel and prohibit any Department of Defense Education Activity funds from purchasing school library books that espouse "radical gender ideology," which the amendment does not define.

Meanwhile, the GOP blocked consideration of amendments that would have banned the sale or transfer of cluster bombs worldwide, cut the Pentagon budget by $100 billion, reined in price gouging by military contractors, repealed the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq, and blocked funding for the B83-1 nuclear bomb.

"The bill MAGA House Republicans passed today allocates the single largest funding total the Pentagon has ever received from Congress and actively blocks the Biden administration from retiring obsolete, costly, and unnecessary weapons systems," Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said in a statement. "It follows the end of a 20-year war, and the fifth time the Defense Department has failed an audit."

"The funding level is far from the only problem with this NDAA," Jayapal and Lee continued. "MAGA Republicans conducted an unprecedented and unrecognizable process, refusing to even allow debate on amendments that have been made in order for years. They even robbed a Progressive Caucus member of her amendment to ban the transfer of cluster munitions and handed it to one of the most extreme MAGA members, who weakened its provisions."

"The result is a bill that goes out of its way to attack abortion, immigrants, and LBGTQ rights and efforts to make the military more inclusive and reflective of America; reverses progress on climate action; and hobbles our ability to combat extremism in the military," they added. "Thanks to MAGA House Republicans, this bill excludes progressives' provisions to protect the human rights of civilians abroad, reassert congressional war powers, or strengthen labor and civil rights for service members."

"Progressives will have to keep up this fight until this fringe movement is defeated."

It's not clear how many of the Republican amendments will survive the coming legislative process.

The narrowly Democratic Senate still needs to pass its own version of the NDAA, and the two chambers must then reconcile the differences between the two bills.

Eric Eikenberry, government relations director at Win Without War, implored the Senate to strip out the "hateful measures" attached by the House GOP once the conference process begins.

"If the Freedom Caucus were really interested in shaking things up, its members could have used their decisive influence over Speaker McCarthy to repeal outdated and dangerous AUMFs, cut the Pentagon budget, and end unfunded priority lists that plus-up the Pentagon topline," said Eikenberry. "Instead, as the world hits record temperatures and people across the country fight to maintain their rights, they chose to use military personnel policy to renew attacks on women, people of color, and LGBTQI+ people, in the hopes that they can impose on the broader public tomorrow what they can force on servicemembers today."

"Progressives will have to keep up this fight until this fringe movement is defeated," Eikenberry added.

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