Congress passes military package without bans on funding abortion, sex change surgeries

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The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a compromise version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), one without House amendments that would have banned military spending on abortion and sex change surgeries.

The compromise NDAA was approved by the House on Thursday by an overwhelming 310-118 vote, with 73 Republicans and 45 Democrats voting against the package. The package will now be sent to President Joe Biden for signing.

The decision to drop the pro-life amendment from the NDAA comes as a blow to pro-life efforts to stop the military’s use of tax dollars to facilitate abortion.

Under a current military policy laid out by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in October 2022, the military provides paid leave and reimbursement for travel expenses for service members seeking to obtain abortions. The policy also covers travel costs for military spouses and dependents. 

Montana Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale, a Catholic who introduced the House amendment banning military spending on sex change surgeries, said in a press statement that he voted against the compromise NDAA. He responded to the package’s passage with outrage.

“A vote in favor of this bill is a vote to inflict the radical left’s social experiment on our military and is an insult to our men and women in uniform, which is why I voted no!” Rosendale said. 

“Congress has a duty to ensure our military is the most effective fighting force on Earth,” he added. “Unfortunately, the D.C. Cartel, comprised of Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans, and Joe Biden, rewrote this legislation to use our military to implement their radical agenda by including taxpayer funding for abortion, gender reassignment surgeries, drag shows on military bases, and Green New Deal provisions.” 

The spending package, which sets the military’s budget for the coming year at $886 billion, had already been passed by the Senate in an 87-13 vote on Wednesday night

Though it is an annual must-pass spending package that typically coasts through Congress with bipartisan support, this year saw much more controversy over certain provisions in the package such as funding for Ukraine and military spending on abortion and sex change surgeries.

In July the majority Republican House passed two amendments banning military spending on abortion and sex change surgeries. The majority Democratic Senate, however, did not pass any such provisions, necessitating that the House and Senate armed forces committees work to reconcile the differences.

The House and Senate committees announced a compromise version of the NDAA on Dec. 7 in which the House agreed to drop its abortion and transgender amendments.

This comes just shortly after Sen. Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, ended his 10-month-long blockade on military promotions that sought to force the Pentagon to change its abortion policies, which the senator has called “illegal.”

Biden, who vocally opposed the House’s original version of the package in part because of the abortion and transgender amendments, is expected to quickly sign the compromise NDAA into law. 

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