Defense Spending Bill Cuts Diversity Programs, But Leaves Out Provisions Blocking Trans Procedures, Abortion Funding

The defense spending bill unveiled in the House early Thursday cuts millions in diversity-oriented spending, but does not contain provisions in a draft text that would have banned funding for transgender surgeries and other conservative policy priorities.

Conservatives touted that the Fiscal Year 2024 Defense Appropriations Act topped out at $825 billion, up $27 billion from previous year’s bill, while cutting $50 million in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs contained in the White House’s defense budget request. However, absent from the final text are provisions in draft version that would have restricted funding for the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy, transgender treatments for servicemembers and totally defunding the Pentagon’s DEI office.

“The bills achieve what House Republicans set out to do by strategically increasing defense spending, rescinding wasteful Democrat spending, and making targeted cuts to overfunded non-defense programs,” the committee said in a press release issued after the bill was finalized. (RELATED: Defense Spending Plans For 2025 Don’t Live Up To White House, Congress’ Bluster On Deterring China, Experts Say)

Republicans also touted cutting $574 million in climate change-related projects from the Biden administration’s budget request.

The defense subcommittee’s version of the bill, however, would have prohibited the Pentagon from putting money toward drag queen story hours, teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT), performing sex-change procedures on servicemembers. Another proposal dropped in the final bill banned funding for servicemembers to get paid time off and travel reimbursements when they seek an abortion, overturning a contentious Pentagon policy issued in the wake of Roe vs. Wade’s reversal.

It also dropped a provision blocking the removal of the Confederate reconciliation memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. It was ultimately dismantled in December.

“The Fiscal Year 2024 Defense Appropriations Act provides our military with the resources it needs to protect America and defend our interests around the globe,” Defense Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert of California said in a statement. “With more fiscally restrained budgets chasing increasing national security needs we simply cannot afford inefficiencies at the Defense Department.”

To counter a rising China, the FY24 Defense Appropriations bill:
✅ Maxes out production of critical munitions.
✅ Doubles security cooperation funding for Taiwan.
✅ Funds procurement of 8 new battle force ships and rejects divestment of 4 ships.

— Rep. Ken Calvert (@KenCalvert) March 21, 2024

The bill separately authorizes spending on a 5.2% pay raise — the largest in history percentage-wise — for troops and millions in junior enlisted retention incentives and enlistment bonuses aimed at pulling the military out of its recruiting slog.

Congress approved $200 million for the Replicator, the Pentagon’s initiative to field thousands of expendable drones in warfighting scenarios, previously funded by pulling funding from other DOD components. It also bumped spending by $100 million to hasten investment in counter-drone defenses following months of U.S. troops defending against drone attacks in the Middle East, which killed three U.S. Army reservists.

Lawmakers also approved six types of missiles for multi-year procurement contracts, a cost-saving measure aimed at accelerating production and purchase for those missiles, according to the bill.

A separate defense authorization act, which sets DOD policy but does not actually appropriate money for the Pentagon to spend, notched a few conservative policy wins but likewise omitted a provision preventing the military’s insurance program from covering transgender treatments and overturning the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy.

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