GOP appropriators advance defense spending bill

By Tony Bertuca / June 15, 2023 at 12:16 PM

The GOP-led House Appropriations defense subcommittee has approved a fiscal year 2024 defense spending bill that will now advance to the full committee for consideration amid partisan criticism over politically controversial cuts and policy riders.

The bill, which was approved in closed session, was first released yesterday but contains few details in terms of where money will be spent and reduced, though lawmakers have made some general assertions about how it would impact specific Defense Department programs.

Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) said the bill, which is aligned with a broader bipartisan agreement to provide $886 billion in total national defense funding for FY-24, “rejects many of the Biden administration’s misguided funding proposals, such as climate change initiatives, far-left social policies, and shrinking the Navy.”

Calvert also said the subcommittee found $20 billion in federal spending that was “redirected to improve the lethality and readiness of the force.” The bill also cuts $1 billion from the salaries of Pentagon civilian personnel.

Full Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) said the bill prioritizes national security, “not culture wars.”

But the bill has drawn heat from Democrats, who point out the bill bans funds for servicemembers seeking travel expenses for reproductive healthcare, climate change mitigation at military bases and security clearances for any signatory to the ‘Public Statement on the Hunter Biden Emails’ dated October 19, 2020.

Committee Ranking Member Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) said the bill, which is likely dead-on-arrival in the Democrat-led Senate, contains “the most extreme social policy riders I have ever seen in a defense appropriations bill.”

“It is regrettable that the Republican majority has produced a Defense Appropriations bill that would undermine our military’s readiness and leave us less secure in the world, not more,” she said.