House Republicans Pass Divisive Defense Bill that Reduces America’s Readiness

June 22, 2023
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, House Republicans passed a Defense funding bill that divides the country, undermines national security, and includes provisions that fail to support service personnel. Instead of investing in our national security and the issues that matter most to our men and women in uniform, the bill includes irrelevant, harmful policy riders. House Democrats were united in their opposition, voting unanimously against the bill.

For 2024, the bill provides $826.2 million, $285 million above the request, and $29.4 billion above last year’s level. The legislation:

  • Fails to fully fund and authorize the President’s request to fund the munitions required to counter Chinese Communist Party threats.
  • Allows disinformation campaigns and extremist views to flourish which undermine our democracy.
  • Cuts vital civilian positions at a time when the Department is struggling to meet readiness goals.
  • Fails to invest in critical climate change programs that are necessary to protect our installations.
  • Harms readiness with divisive provisions that undermine morale and fail to support our service personnel, by:
    • Attacking the LGBTQ+ community with hateful provisions;
    • Preventing service personnel from traveling to seek reproductive health care; and
    • Banning funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

“As with every bill that has come through the Appropriations Committee this year, there are deeply disappointing social policy riders written into the Republicans’ Defense Appropriations bill. As Ranking Member, my primary concern is that the impact of these provisions will be more harmful in this bill because they signal to Americans who want to join our volunteer military that many are not welcome. These totally unnecessary provisions divide us, not unite us, and they will have harmful consequences for recruitment and retention across the force. I also disagree with some of the reductions the majority has made, including cuts to civilian personnel and climate resiliency programs,” Defense Ranking Member Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) said. “The cuts proposed to the civilian workforce will impact military readiness. This will burden service members with additional duties and shift work to an expensive private sector. Cuts to climate resiliency programs will leave the Department more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. As written, this bill has no chance of becoming law. The majority must work with us in a bipartisan fashion to get to a bill that meets the needs of all our service members and their families.”

Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are here.

“Republicans have once again injected their own beliefs into the deeply personal health decisions of women – in a defense bill, no less. The majority has renewed their attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, passing judgment on who they love rather than on their love of country. They have sought to cut vital civilian support positions at a time the Department is struggling to meet its readiness goals. And it would not be a Republican bill without a ban on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Some dare lament our military’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion. I have news for anyone who shares those sympathies – diversity of background and culture is, and has long been the preeminent strength of our nation’s military,” Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) said. “To paraphrase Under Secretary of Defense Mike McCord, should the entire burden of budget cuts fall on the non-defense discretionary agencies, the cuts would still harm our security and defense capabilities. No single agency could succeed in a vacuum, and deep cuts to any one agency would undermine our government’s broader efforts. I come from a defense state – I understand the importance of investing in our national defense. But this bill does not advance our national defense. It does, however, harm our readiness, undermine morale, and fail to support our men and women in the armed services, and for those reasons, I do not support this bill.”

The 2024 funding bill cuts:

  • $1.1 billion in salaries of civilian personnel which will harm oversight of waste, fraud, and abuse and limit the ability of the Department to implement acquisition programs and provide insights for our research and development programs.
  • $714.8 million for climate-related programs which limit the Department’s ability to update installations into the 21st century and includes a ban on funding for greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.
  • $114.7 million through a ban on funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

The bill includes partisan riders that have nothing to do with national security:

  • Bans funding for travel expenses for reproductive healthcare needs for Service members and their families.
  • Includes legislative text which cuts funding for the Deputy Inspector General for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility and any funds that may be used to implement, administer, apply, enforce, or care out the Executive Orders on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility.
  • Bans funding for surgical procedures or hormone therapies for gender-affirming care.
  • Bans funding which “promote, host, facilitate, or support events on U.S. military installations or as part of military recruiting programs that violate the Department of Defense Joint Ethics Regulation or bring discredit upon the military, such as drag queen story hour for children or the use of drag queens as military recruiters”. 
  • Bans funding for any activity that promotes or advances Critical Race Theory.
  • Bans funding that may be used to classify or facilitate classification of any communications by a U.S. person as “mis, dis, or mal-information” – this would permit the spread of falsehoods without the ability to present the facts.
  • Bans security clearances for any signatory to the “Public Statement on the Hunter Biden Emails” dated October 19, 2020; limiting the free speech of those expressing ideas the majority opposes.
  • Bans retribution against “any individual with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as a union of one man and one woman” – language that limits the diversity of our military.

The text of the bill, before the adoption of amendments, is here. The bill report, before the adoption of amendments in full committee, is here.


118th Congress