Biden Threatens Veto of Republican House Defense Bill

President Joe Biden will veto the House version of the 2024 defense bill if presented to him, said the White House while criticizing some of the Republican provisions in the bill aimed against some of the administration’s policies.

The Biden administration “strongly opposes” passage of H.R. 4365, the House version of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year ending 2024, said the White House in a Sept. 11 statement. The House passed its $886 billion defense bill in July. Although the amount was on par with what the Biden administration requested, it contained several Republican amendments related to things like diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (DEI), abortion, and transgender policies. At the time, the administration expressed its opposition to the bill.

The White House pointed out that when the Biden administration negotiated the debt limit deal in May with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) which led to the passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) of 2023, the agreement was to hold “spending for non-defense programs roughly flat with FY 2023 levels.”

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However, House Republicans “are wasting time with partisan bills that cut domestic spending to levels well below the FRA agreement” with less than a month before the end of the current 2023 fiscal year.

“These levels would result in deep cuts to climate change and clean energy programs, essential nutrition services, law enforcement, consumer safety, education, and healthcare.”

The White House said that H.R. 4365 would repeal billions of dollars worth of provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that would cause “unacceptable harm to clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives.”

The Republican-controlled House defense bill passed in July repealed the Department of Defense’s abortion travel policy which reimbursed service members for expenses incurred when traveling to obtain an abortion in another state.

H.R. 4365 prohibited DOD programs from offering sex reassignment surgeries and gender hormone treatments for trans individuals. It also blocked the defense department from providing gender transition procedures through a program designed for special-needs family members.

The bill introduced measures to counter DEI programs at the Pentagon, including a policy that bars the DOD’s educational arm from purchasing books espousing “radical gender ideology” or containing pornographic content. It prohibited schools under the Defense Department from teaching that the United States or its founding is racist.

“We are continuing to block the Biden Administration’s ‘woke’ agenda,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said at the time.

House Versus Senate

After the Republican-controlled House passed its defense bill in July, the Democrat-controlled Senate followed up by passing its own version of the defense bill late that month, removing some of the GOP amendments included in the former version.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking at a press conference in Washington on July 11, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking at a press conference in Washington on July 11, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Members of the House and Senate will now have to negotiate a compromise on the NDAA to draft a bill that can pass in both chambers. It will then go to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The clash between the House and Senate bills is a deviation from historical norms. Since 1961, the NDAA has been passed every year usually with strong bipartisan support. But this year, a Republican pushback on the Biden administration’s social justice agenda has set up this clash.

At the House, the defense bill passed through a narrow margin of 219–210. This is in contrast to the Senate version which was passed 86–11 though seats in the chamber are split 51–49 between Democrats and Republicans.

Senators from both parties said that they do not wish to see social issues become an impediment to the defense bill becoming law.

Passing the NDAA

The House of Representatives is scheduled to consider the defense bill this week as it returns to session on Tuesday following the August recess.

While the Senate is pursuing spending at a level agreed between President Biden and Mr. McCarthy, some Republicans in the House are seeking a spending level that is $120 billion lower than the agreement.

US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, arrives at the US Capitol in Washington on July 27, 2023. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, arrives at the US Capitol in Washington on July 27, 2023. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

This week “will be interesting, maybe not necessarily in a great way as everybody on our side tries to figure out what a path forward looks like,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) told Reuters.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) expressed skepticism about whether Democrats and Republicans will reach an accord with regard to the House bill.

“The bill that we passed out of committee had some criticisms of DEI in a variety of different forms,” he said to Defense News, referring to the House Armed Services Committee.

“If they wish to regulate how they do DEI at the Pentagon, if they’re truly worried about extreme proposals and things like critical race theory, we can talk about that.”

“We can also look at the provisions on the climate change initiatives … I don’t know if there’s some way to subtly modify those,” Mr. Smith stated.

The fiscal 2023 defense bill has to be passed before the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Failure to do so could lead to a funding lapse that can trigger a partial government shutdown, potentially delaying military paychecks and furloughing some federal workers.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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