WASHINGTON — Passage of the House’s annual defense policy bill on Friday remains uncertain after Republicans added provisions on abortion and transgender surgeries, measures that are not a start for Democrats.
The amendments, adopted Thursday, would prohibit the secretary of defense from paying or reimbursing service members for expenses related to abortion and transgender surgeries and hormone treatments.
The abortion amendment, sponsored by Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, passed largely along party lines in a 221-213 vote. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, joined Republicans in voting to adopt the amendment, while two Republicans, John Duarte of California and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, opposed the measure.
The House also narrowly adopted an amendment sponsored by Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., that would prohibit military health insurance and the Department of Defense from providing or covering transgender surgeries and hormone treatments for transgender people.
House Democratic leaders said Thursday that members of their caucus will vote against passing the bill. In a joint statement issued by House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., they accused Republicans of deciding to “hijack the historically bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act to continue attacking reproductive freedom and bogging down their right-wing ideology in the throats of the Americans. people.»
Eventually, the defense legislation will have to be reconciled with a version of the bill that is being considered in the Senate. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, is seeking a similar measure to block Pentagon payments or reimbursements for abortion services, which Senate Democrats are unlikely to support.
The House amendments, championed by some of the House’s most conservative Republicans, were approved for consideration by the House Rules Committee earlier this week in what was seen as a major victory for the right flank of the House Republican Party.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday he would vote against the NDAA, adding, «I don’t think I didn’t vote for an NDAA.»
Rep. Pat Ryan, DN.Y., who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, said the panel worked to pass a bipartisan bill “and then the far right hijacked this, hijacked our national security. And this makes our country less safe, less safe, and it’s an insult to all of our women in uniform. So I’m a no, and I think almost all of my fellow Democrats will be a no.»
sahil kapur and kyle stewart contributed.