WASHINGTON — The House narrowly passed an annual defense policy bill Friday after Republicans added provisions to ban Pentagon spending on abortions and transgender surgeries, moves that were no start for Democrats.
The legislation, which will need to be reconciled with the Senate version of the bill, passed in a vote of 219-210.
Four Republicans voted against the bill: Ken Buck of Colorado; Andy Biggs and Eli Crane from Arizona; and Thomas Massie of Kentucky. Four Democrats voted with a majority of Republicans in favor: Donald Davis of North Carolina; Jared Golden from Maine; Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington; and Gabe Vasquez of New Mexico.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georg., who said Thursday night she would oppose the bill, voted «yes» Friday, saying the reason for her change of heart was that Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Ge. California promised him a seat on the conference committee that will discuss the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
Greene, who opposes additional funding for Ukraine, said his goal in the conference committee will be to convince his colleagues that more money should be offered for the war-torn country as part of a supplementary funding package for separate.
McCarthy welcomed the passage of the legislation at a news conference, saying it would eliminate «radical programs» that have affected US troops «at the expense of preparedness.» He also said that cutting-edge technology would receive more investment.
McCarthy also attacked Democrats, saying they should «stop using taxpayer money to do their own awakening. An army can’t defend itself if you train it to awaken. We don’t want Disneyland training our army.»
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., criticized Republicans over the conservative amendments.
«It is woefully irresponsible that extremist MAGA Republicans have hijacked a bipartisan bill that is essential to our national security, and taken it and weaponized it to ram their far-right ideology down the throats of the American people,» he said. . at his weekly press conference.
The amendments, adopted Thursday, would prohibit the secretary of defense from paying or reimbursing service members for expenses related to abortion and transgender surgeries and hormone treatments.
The abortion amendment, sponsored by Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, passed largely along party lines in a 221-213 vote. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, joined Republicans in voting to adopt the amendment, while two Republicans, John Duarte of California and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, opposed the measure.
The House also narrowly adopted an amendment sponsored by Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., that would prohibit military health insurance and the Department of Defense from providing or covering transgender surgeries and hormone treatments for transgender people.
Two amendments were adopted Friday morning before final approval. One would prohibit military service academies from using federal funds to discriminate or set quotas on the basis of race or ethnic origin in academy admissions. The other would bar the Defense Department from carrying out President Joe Biden’s climate change executive orders.
Eventually, the defense legislation will have to be reconciled with a version of the bill that is being considered in the Senate. Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, is seeking a similar measure to block Pentagon payments or reimbursements for abortion services, which Senate Democrats are unlikely to support.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, said Friday that his members would not give up on a bipartisan compromise.
“We are not going back. We are not going to give up the cause that is just and we are going to keep fighting for it,» Perry said at a news conference with members of the conservative caucus. «The military is not the place for a social experiment. The military needs to focus on readiness and lethality, and all these other things distract from that and hurt our national security.»
The House amendments, championed by some of the House’s most conservative Republicans, were approved for consideration by the House Rules Committee earlier this week in what was seen as a major victory for the right flank of the House Republican Party.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday he would vote against the NDAA, adding, «I don’t think I didn’t vote for an NDAA.»
Rep. Pat Ryan, DN.Y., who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, said the panel worked to pass a bipartisan bill “and then the far right hijacked this, hijacked our national security. And this makes our country less safe, less safe, and it’s an insult to all of our women in uniform. So I’m a no, and I think almost all of my fellow Democrats will be a no.»
In a statement late Friday, White House spokesman Andrew Bates used similar language in accusing Tuberville and other Republicans of «hijacking» the bill.
«Holding America’s military readiness, as well as service members and their families, hostage to an extreme and divisive political agenda undermines our national security and disrespects the sacrifices made by those in uniform,» Bates said. “The damage to each branch of service increases daily. It is imperative that Republicans in Congress put country over party.»