A defense spending bill garnished with new provisions appealing to Republicans on hot-button issues is in jeopardy in the GOP-led House, but not because of the bill itself, according to Politico.
The annual defense appropriations bill emerged from the House Rules Committee on Tuesday night with amendments blocking Ukraine security assistance and defunding the Pentagon’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) offices. Debate on the bill, which is already loaded with provisions aimed at stripping down the Pentagon’s DEI, gender and abortion initiatives is slated to begin Wednesday afternoon, but opposition from some Republicans who want Speaker Kevin McCarthy to take a harder line on spending could jeopardize a vote, Politico reported.
“Nobody’s objecting to what’s in the bill,” House Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole of Oklahoma told Politico. “Everybody’s trying to leverage the bill for something now.”
The Rules Committee voted 8-5 Tuesday night to send the appropriations bill, with 184 additional amendments, to the floor, although it’s unclear if the Republicans can gin up enough support to see it pass the full House, according to Politico.
Republican leaders on the Rules Committee set up votes on amendments appealing to the conservative bases that overlap with Freedom Caucus members who want to reduce spending overall, according to Politico. Many of them passed.
If the defense appropriations bill does go to the floor, the House will vote on banning any funds set aside for the Department of Defense (DOD) from providing security assistance to Ukraine and slashing $300,000 from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, changes Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Andy Biggs of Arizona, respectively, championed.
A bipartisan amendment bans the transfer of cluster munitions following the Biden administration’s decision to sendUkraine thousands of bombs that distribute bomblets across wide spaces. Human rights groups opposed the move due to a possible increased risk of civilian harm.
Other bills targeted the salaries of Pentagon officials who play significant roles in the Pentagon’s DEI programs.
But Republican Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, who had an amendment successfully added that blocks gender transition procedures or referrals for such treatments through the DOD Exceptional Family Member Program, voted against the final package, Politico reported. Both Norman and Republican Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina said they plan to oppose beginning debate on the bill.
McCarthy needs 218 Republican votes, meaning he can only afford four defections from his party, according to Politico.
President Joe Biden has already pledged to veto the bill over its provisions that would overturn some of the Pentagon’s signature policies expanding abortion access for troops and DEI programs and programs countering climate change. However, the legislation as it stands has little chance of clearing a Democrat-led Senate in which Republicans largely support higher defense spending and will likely see major revisions before it reaches the president’s desk.
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