A House Armed Services Committee member named Michael Waltz accused the administration of pressuring the military to follow “a progressive, socially driven agenda.”
Instead of focusing on military problems, Alabama Republican Mike Rogers, who will be in charge of the Armed Services Committee next year, said that the Biden administration wanted to “impose its political agenda on our servicemembers.”
According to a statement from Rogers, Republicans want to hold the Biden administration responsible for improperly utilizing DoD resources to carry out far-left programs that have no bearing on national security.
Democrats, meanwhile, are prepared to respond and eager to remind current and future GOP leaders that delaying the defence policy bill due to petty disagreements has real-world repercussions.
“If you start it off for four, five, or six months, you hurt the American military.” “Therefore, I hope Kevin McCarthy is aware of it,” said Adam Smith, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, on Wednesday at the POLITICO Defense Summit. Every day after October 1st that you don’t complete it, and especially every day after January 1st, you harm the American military.
He added that we’d finish it this year because it’s the right thing to do.
Vaccines, abortion, and race
Not soon after Biden assumed office last year, Republicans started to criticize the Pentagon. In March, Biden applauded the military’s initiatives to diversify its ranks, stating that the services were “developing body armor that fits women properly, modifying combat uniforms for women, inventing maternity flight suits, and changing regulations for their hairstyles.”
On his next broadcast, Tucker Carlson of Fox News made fun of Biden. We now have fresh haircuts and pregnancy flight suits, so expecting women will fight in our conflicts. “It makes fun of the American military,” he declared.
The military and the Pentagon’s then-spokesperson, John Kirby, issued a rare public condemnation in response to the remarks.
According to Kirby, the diversity of our military is “one of our greatest strengths,” but “we still have a lot of work to do to make our military more inclusive and more respectful of everyone, especially women,” he told reporters.
On the other hand, Kirby said, “We would never take advice about people from a talk show host or the Chinese military.” “Those people may believe they have something to prove now. That is their fault. Even with all the areas where we still have room for improvement, we know that our military is the best today.
In June last year, lawmakers quickly picked up on the story and made it worse for top Pentagon officials. Waltz and Gen. Mark Milley argued over rumors that instructors at the military service academies had brought up critical race theory with their students.
In response to a question from a congressman, Milley said, “I find it disrespectful that we are accusing the United States military of being “woke” or whatever else because we’re examining some notions out there.
While his response gained a lot of attention, the right started to target him more.
Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, the leading Republican on the committee that deals with military personnel problems, said in September, “To all our service academies, I would simply suggest you might want to pump the brakes on hiring, you know, five more “DEI professors” or creating new departments.” Diversity, equity, and inclusion are referred to as DEI. “Because I promise that when Republicans take over Congress, as they will in the coming year, we’re going to push back against this and expose this philosophy for what it is: a diversion from warfighting.”
Republicans want to use their majority to try and weaken the administration’s requirement that service people receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Republicans have criticized the rule for kicking troops out of the military and have put forth several proposals to reverse the consequences for personnel who don’t get the shot, even though service members are required to take a variety of vaccines. The military is clear about what it means to disobey orders. When the defence bill was debated in June, previous attempts to relax the rules were defeated on votes almost entirely along party lines.
In response to Biden’s remarks in September that the “pandemic is resolved,” Rogers led GOP members in a letter to Austin asking for information on when the mandate will expire or a justification for why it will remain in place. The lawmakers were also upset that the military’s requests for religious exemptions were turned down.
Next year, Republicans will probably try to use defense legislation to stop a new Pentagon policy that will pay for troops’ travel costs to get abortions because they believe it politicizes the service. The Austin letter, made public fewer than three weeks before the November elections, aims to improve access for military members stationed in jurisdictions with abortion restrictions.
They may also work to sabotage or limit Pentagon initiatives to transition to renewable energy sources and address climate change, such as initiatives to increase electric vehicle usage. During the Obama administration, Republicans also attacked initiatives promoting alternative fuels, claiming they were expensive and reduced military readiness.
The Senate, which is still controlled by Democrats and requires bipartisan support to pass legislation regardless of which party is in power, will effectively end any attempts to tackle those concerns on yearly military legislation, or at least soften them.
And even though they might support those proposals, GOP leaders on the House Armed Services Committee and its subcommittees might not be eager to help culture war issues if doing so could jeopardize the passage of the defense policy bill, one of the few significant pieces of legislation that consistently passes each year.
Will there be side discussions about all of these other topics? “Yes,” responded Rudy deLeon, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress and a former head of staff for the House Armed Services. But I believe that caring for the force will be their priority at this moment of extreme global upheaval.
Nevertheless, Thomas Spoehr of the conservative Heritage Foundation projected that Republicans could squeak out a few minor victories in a divided administration.
“When the margins are so slim, you can’t hit home runs,” Spoehr remarked. But I predict the Republicans will make a few doubles and singles.
For instance, Democratic senators approved a clause in the defense bill from last year that prohibits dishonorable discharges for soldiers who are ordered to leave their posts only for disobeying the vaccine requirement. Waltz also mentioned a clause he proposed last year mandating the Army establish gender-neutral fitness requirements for combat professions. The clause was included in the defense legislation enacted by the House.
In an unexpected decision that saw Independent Senator Angus King vote with Republicans, the Senate Armed Services Committee supported wording in a report attached to its defense legislation in July.
In addition to personnel policies, Republicans have pledged to focus more attention on the Biden administration’s management of the disorganized American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Michael McCaul of Texas, who will chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is likely to lead the initiative. In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month, McCaul asked for all records related to the American withdrawal to be kept by the State Department. This set the stage for a full-scale investigation once Republicans take control of Congress in January. But several committees, including the Armed Services, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform panels, are likely to look into the withdrawal from Afghanistan and its effects.
McCarthy and top Republicans from the four committees pledged in an August Fox News op-ed that if given a chance to control the majority in the next Congress, they will “demand answers, hold open hearings, and ultimately provide the American people with the openness they deserve.”