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House Republicans approve defense budget with limits on abortion, trans surgeries and DEI policies

The project will go to the Senate, where Democrats promised that it will only go forward if it changes radically.

Otro golpe para el GOP en la Cámara: se hundió el proyecto de ley republicano de ayuda a Israel

(Cordon Press)

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The House approved, with mostly Republican support and abundant Democratic criticism, a bill to establish the defense budget for the next fiscal year. Only six Democrats and three Republicans broke party lines in Friday's vote.

The package of nearly $895 billion covers different levels. From activities of the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to security programs of the Department of Energy and forecasts for military construction.

Although the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) usually achieves bipartisan consensus every year, Democrats accused their Republican counterparts of filling the text with ideological amendments, more typical of the culture war.

One of the amendments criticized by the blues prohibits public money from being used for DOD policy that funds abortion-related expenses, such as travel to a state where it is allowed. Beth Van Duyne, the legislator behind the additional proposal, thanked her colleagues for supporting her initiative to "end President Biden's unlawful policy" and listed other successes of the project:

House Republicans have expanded funding to vastly increase pay for junior enlisted servicemembers, improve base housing, healthcare, and family support while refocusing training and military spending on battleground lethality with mission-critical weapons systems.

Another amendment vetoes funding for trans medical procedures, such as surgeries or hormonal treatments. The begetter of this measure, however, was one of the three Republicans who voted against the entire bill: Matt Rosendale regretted that two other additions that he presented to his colleagues were not considered, one that would have limited in vitro fertilization (IVF) and another that sought to guarantee religious objections in IVF cases.

"Despite two of my amendments being included, its utter failure to give voices to the voiceless is sickening," the congressman explained in a statement.

Other proposals target Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs. One of them, presented by Ralph Norman, would eliminate all offices linked to those types of initiatives in the Department of Defense. One more, filed by Jim Banks and Glenn Grothman, permanently froze DEI hiring at the Pentagon.

The project also prevents the use of some LGBT materials in military documents and schools, in addition to the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT).

"Extremists in the Republican party have hijacked this bill," Democrat Hillary Scholten protested after the vote. The Michigan congresswoman assured that she would have endorsed the project as it came out of the committee, where the measure obtained bipartisan support of 57 votes to one.

Another Democratic legislator who expressed her rejection was Mikie Sherrill, who accused speaker Mike Johnson of granting "an entire wish list of culture-war attacks" to "MAGA extremists" and Marjorie Taylor Green - who, in fact, voted against the project-.

Johnson, on the other hand, assured that the legislative proposal will "refocus our military on its core mission of defending America." He also highlighted that it will "fund the deployment of the National Guard to the southwest border, expedite innovation and reduce the acquisition timeline for new weaponry, support our allies, and strengthen our nuclear posture and missile defense programs."

A sign of unity

Members of the Democratic Party assured that they will only allow the project to become law after several changes in the Senate, where the blues have a majority.

If so, it would suffer a fate similar to that presented last year when Kevin McCarthy was still speaker. That measure was filed in the upper house, where several Republican provisions were eliminated.

According to some analyses, Johnson, caught between the need to seduce the conservatives of his own party in the House and the Democrats in the Senate, turned to the former to show strength and unity during the election period. Once approved by the lower house, he would have calculated that he will be able to negotiate with the Democrats, modify it and approve it in the upper house.