Compromise Defense Authorization Bill Passes Senate, House
For the 63rd year in a row, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sailed through Congress this week. Most of the good provisions House Republicans had inserted into the annual bill to fund the military were stripped out during negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate, and Family Research Council Action scored against the final passage of the bill.
Because many members consider legislation to fund the military a “must-pass” bill, progressives in Congress routinely stuff the NDAA with woke riders every time they have a chance. When given the chance, Republicans often fail to undo the damage out of fear that doing so would jeopardize the bill’s passage — an unlikely outcome, but that’s the narrative the media is sure to promote. This dynamic acts on the military as a one-way ratchet, making it woker and woker as time goes on.
But this year was different. Back in July, Republicans marshalled their narrow House majority to reverse some of the worst left-wing abuses of our nation’s military. Even worse than the NDAA’s quiet slide, the Biden administration has gone ahead and implemented its own anti-life, anti-family policies for the military without any congressional authorization at all. This year, Republicans said “no” to paying for abortion travel, taxpayer funding of gender transition procedures, obscene books in the libraries of DOD-run schools, flying Pride flags on military property, and staffing an increasingly bloated and wasteful DEI bureaucracy.
Some Republicans on the Right and Democrats on the Left also objected to the bill’s reauthorization of funding for programs under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which law enforcement agencies have abused to spy on American citizens without a warrant.
These commonsense provisions suffocated to death in the Democrat-controlled Senate. That was expected, but conservatives had hoped that, when the House and Senate negotiated a compromise bill in conference, at least some of these good provisions would resurface. But they didn’t, and it’s unclear why. Oh, to be in “the room where it happened”!
The final version of the NDAA roughly maintained the status quo. It passed the Senate (87-13) on Wednesday and the House (310-118) on Thursday. It now goes to the White House for President Biden’s signature.
In the Senate, six Republicans and seven Democrats voted against the bill, while in the House 73 Republicans and 45 Democrats voted against it. Fully one-third of the House Republican majority voted against the bill that funds the military.
Perhaps the gravest issue left unaddressed is the military’s illegal policy to reimburse servicemembers for abortion-related travel across state lines — a shocking perversion of the military’s mission to protect American lives.
“The Biden administration’s all-of-government abortion policy is extreme. Sixty percent of Americans, and 59% of Independents, oppose taxpayers paying for abortions,” Quena Gonzalez, senior director of Government Affairs at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand. “Even the Obama administration, dubbed ‘the most pro-abortion administration’ at the time, did not hijack the military to pay for abortions.”
But perhaps the year-long effort to build a movement against this policy, which has no basis in law, was not entirely wasted.
“While it’s disappointing that pro-life Republicans failed to pause the defense bill until President Biden’s unlawful taxpayer-funded military abortion subsidies could be addressed, this fight is not over,” Gonzalez said. “This year’s fight to take taxpayer-funded abortion out of the military brought the issue to the forefront and educated Americans that their taxpayer dollars are underwriting abortions, contrary to law.”
“We will continue to highlight the members of Congress who fight to keep taxpayers from funding abortions, and those who don’t,” Gonzalez added.
Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.