by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
To listen to their critics, House Republicans have gratuitously inserted cultural issues into national-security policy via an $886 billion National Defense Authorization Act that narrowly passed the House last week 219 to 210.
According to a White House spokesman, House Republicans “hijacked” a bipartisan bill and made it into a vehicle for “a hardcore right-wing wish list.” In the media coverage of the bill, the provisions sought by House conservatives are invariably deemed “controversial” and “divisive.”
It never occurs to the press to apply such adjectives to the underlying woke policies targeted by these provisions — no, it’s only “controversial” to try to get the military, once again, wholly focused on being a highly proficient fighting force.
The focus of the current fight is over an abortion-tourism policy adopted by the Pentagon in the wake of Dobbs that at least stretches the law and is nakedly political in motivation. Preposterously, the Pentagon is insisting that abortion restrictions represent a threat to military readiness, because female service members will be dissuaded from serving for fear of being stationed in red states that limit abortions.
Never mind that female service members have long been asked to serve in foreign countries that restrict abortion. And never mind that if they want to travel to a state with permissive abortion laws, they can use the standard 30 days of annual leave to do it. The Pentagon has layered on additional paid leave and travel expenses solely to make an ideological point about how burdensome Dobbs is and how committed the Biden administration is to fighting it.
This has naturally caused a reaction among Republicans. The House-passed NDAA reverses the policy. And Alabama’s Senator Tommy Tuberville is blocking all military promotions in the Senate in protest.