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House Republicans vote to cut military diversity initiatives and transgender health care for service members

A political fight is brewing over the typically bipartisan annual defense spending bill. San Diego democratic lawmakers say republicans are playing politics with national security. KPBS military reporter Andrew Dyer has more.

Republican lawmakers have added several Pentagon policies pertaining to cultural issues that have become key talking points for conservatives in recent years in the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which narrowly passed the House last week on a near party-line vote.

The NDAA is the annual law that sets military policy and spending priorities. The bill, typically non-partisan, passed the House narrowly Friday with all but four Democrats voting against and all but four Republicans voting in favor.

On Thursday, Republican's approved several last-minute amendments decried by Democrats as "extreme." The House NDAA eliminates all Pentagon Diversity, Equality and Inclusion programs, restricts transgender health care options for service members and ends a travel reimbursement policy enacted after the repeal of Roe v. Wade.


"The majority of Americans, including the majority of Republicans, think service members should be able to get health care," said San Diego Democratic Rep. Sara Jacobs, Tuesday. "(They) think that they should be able to travel if they need to get health care and understand that joining the military doesn't mean you should have less rights than if you’re a civilian."

Jacobs, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, said the bill that cleared the committee was bipartisan. It included funds for a child care center expansion at Naval Base Point Loma, more pay for military child care workers and a pay raise for all service members.

"It passed almost unanimously through the committee," Jacobs said.  "I think that it is really harmful the way (Republicans) are politicizing our military and the way that they are putting in provisions that will harm our service members — especially women and LGBTQ + service members and their families."

San Diego Rep. Darrell Issa, the lone Republican in the San Diego delegation, voiced his support of the bill on Twitter, saying it was "anti-woke," and "anti-CRT."

San Diego Rep. Scott Peters said in a statement the process was "hijacked."


"This year the process was hijacked by a group of far-right extremists who inserted into the process their radical war on books, LGBTQ+ rights and women’s health care just to name a few," Peters said in a statement. "It is regrettable that the majority has gone along with them and come up with a bill that advances culture wars instead of our readiness for war."

The Senate is expected to take up its version of the bill this week. Leaders from both chambers will then negotiate a reconciled version of the bill, a process that is expected to go last the fall.