DOD budget
Illustration by WhoWhatWhy from kalhh / Pixabay, Gerd Altmann auf Pixabay, and US Air Force.

The battle House Republicans are most interested in fighting is their culture war. The National Defense Authorization Act is the latest example.

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It is no accident that, even in times of bitter partisanship, the one thing Republicans and Democrats have been able to agree on is defense policy. For decades, both parties have come together to shower the Pentagon — and therefore also defense contractors — with money.

And it is no surprise that this spirit of cooperation came to an end this week because House Republicans are much more interested in pushing their ideology than bipartisanship.

Now, it would not be a bad thing if somebody threw a wrench into the military-industrial complex and lawmakers actually stopped to consider what else they could do with the near-trillion dollars they spend on “defense.”

However, this isn’t that.

In this case, the most radical House Republicans made it clear that the one battle they are interested in fighting above all is their culture war.

And the rest of the GOP went along.

While the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed nearly unanimously in committee, right-wing lawmakers then introduced a series of amendments on the House floor that would limit the ability of female service members to get an abortion and curtail diversity programs in the military.

Unwilling to swallow these “poison pills,” nearly all Democrats then turned around and voted against the measure.

“The bill as amended, however, has allowed an extreme and narrow contingent to bring their culture war to what was a bipartisan process and advance an agenda rooted in racism, misogyny, bigotry, ignorance, and hatred,” said Rep. Adam Smith (WA), the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

The lawmaker argued that the legislation would make it more difficult for the military to recruit minorities.

“Those who have served or are serving with distinction and honor will pay the price,” Smith added. “This bill would threaten not just their fundamental rights, but their health, well-being, and potentially their lives as well as the rights, health, and survival of their family members.”

In the end, it seems unlikely that any of these amendments will be enacted into law.

Once the Senate passes its version of the NDAA, members of both parties and both chambers have to iron out their differences.

Therefore, the most likely scenario is that the Senate passes legislation that looks more like the version that the House Armed Services Committee approved 58-1.

Then, House and Senate negotiators will craft a compromise that Biden would actually sign, which means it cannot include these poison pills.

Next, both chambers will vote on that compromise legislation, which will likely pass with bipartisan majorities.

Finally, the bill would go to President Joe Biden’s desk.

Meanwhile, the right-wing lawmakers responsible for this mess will vote against the bill, go on Fox News, and complain that the military has gone “woke.”

All of this is really dumb. In the end, as always, the Pentagon will get almost $900 billion in funding, and defense contractors will be happy.

And in this case, that’s actually an improvement over the alternative, which would be giving the military-industrial complex all it wants while also pushing this right-wing ideology on the armed forces.


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