House & Senate pass military bill without anti-trans amendment as 73 Republicans vote against it

Soldiers on a transgender flag
Photo: Shutterstock

The Senate voted yesterday in an 87-13 vote to pass the fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) without anti-LGBTQ+ provisions House Republicans had added. The House voted 310-118 for the same bill, with 45 Democrats and 73 Republicans opposing the measure.

The bill is now going to the White House for President Joe Biden’s signature.

The NDAA is one of several large spending bills that Congress was supposed to pass this year to keep the federal government funded. House Republicans used their slim majority to fill the NDAA and the other bills with anti-LGBTQ+, anti-abortion, and other far-right provisions.

Since the Senate has a Democratic majority and the president is a Democrat as well, these provisions have put funding for large swaths of the federal government in jeopardy.

Republicans added several anti-LGBTQ+ measures to the NDAA, including measures to remove any gender-affirming care coverage for trans troops and to ban any book that has “pornographic materials.” The former would block TRICARE – the health care plan for servicemembers, their families, and the National Guard – from reimbursing gender-affirming care, even for adults. The ban includes hormone replacement therapy, which could force trans people who depend on TRICARE to detransition.

Republicans also added a provision banning the military from helping servicemembers stationed in states that ban abortion from traveling to a state where they can access an abortion.

Most of the anti-equality provisions were removed in the joint committee, including the anti-trans health care provision and the abortion travel ban. The joint committee negotiated a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill. A measure banning the teaching of “critical race theory” in the military was kept in.

Many Republicans voiced strong opposition to the compromise NDAA.

“Democrat trans policy, Democrat abortion policy, 300 million for Ukraine is back in the NDAA,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) ranted in a video posted to X.

“Now, we’re supposed to just grin and take it with no say in the final bill,” she wrote in an accompanying message. “This was a total sell-out of conservative principles and a huge win for Democrats. Congratulations to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, you should all be excited to vote for this! I’m a HELL NO!”

“There is no justification for supporting a bill that does not materially change the direction of our military away from social engineering,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said in a floor speech opposing the compromise bill.

Other provisions in the bill include a 5.2% pay raise for service members and an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows the government to collect communications records of non-citizens overseas who use U.S.-based communications services.

Update: While the ban on gender-affirming care was removed, several other anti-LGBTQ+ provisions were kept in the NDAA, according to a memo from the Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee.

The NDAA “reiterates that no funds may be spent on drag shows, Drag Queen Story Hours, or similar events,” the memo states. Such events were rare in the military and, in several instances, were canceled when a Republican lawmaker complained bout them. The NDAA will also stop the Navy from “promoting a drag queen as a ‘Digital Ambassador,'” something that happened once last year and is already over.

The NDAA will ban Pride flags at military installations as well, and it contains what they’re calling a “Parents Bill of Rights” to allow parents of children in Department of Defense schools to review.

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