The White House on Friday slammed congressional Republicans for “hijacking” the annual defense policy bill and loading it up with conservative amendments related to abortion, transgender rights and other issues, arguing it will undermine national security.
“Holding America’s military readiness – as well as service members and their families – hostage to an extreme, divisive political agenda undermines our national security and disrespects the sacrifices that those who wear the uniform,” deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement.
“That’s what House Republicans, Senator Tuberville, and Senate Republicans who refuse to challenge him are doing by hijacking a bipartisan bill and devolving it into a hardcore rightwing wishlist,” Bates continued. “President Biden stands with the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe our military capabilities should never be endangered, especially not in furtherance of radical agendas meant to tear Americans apart for political gain.
“Harm to every service branch is mounting daily. It’s imperative for congressional Republicans to put country over party,” he added.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed earlier Friday in a largely party-line 219-210 vote, with four Republicans opposing the measure and four Democrats supporting it.
The legislation came under fire from Democrats after a number of GOP-sponsored amendments regarding abortion, transgender rights, diversity and inclusion initiatives and other hot-button issues were attached to the bill.
One of the measures included in the bill would reserve the Pentagon’s policy to reimburse travel expenses for service members who get abortions across state lines.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) opposition to that program has led to his blockade of hundreds of military promotions and nominations, which has drawn criticism, even some of his GOP colleagues who have said it is hindering military readiness.
The House bill now moves to the Democratic-led Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is sure to reject the controversial amendments, a scenario that many House Republicans acknowledged would likely play out.
The certain changes in the Senate set up yet another fight with House Republicans over how to get the bill to President Biden’s desk before the Sept. 30 deadline.