After weeks of pressure and threats from his GOP colleagues to side with Senate Democrats, Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville announced Tuesday that he’s largely abandoning his months-long blockade of military promotions in protest of the Pentagon’s illegal abortion policy.
The blackmailing of Tuberville comes at the same time a House and Senate Conference Committee is expected to meet to reconcile differences over each chamber’s versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2024. The conference could help to resolve the months-long impasse initiated by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin when he unilaterally announced generous time-off and travel expense subsidies for women seeking “non-covered” abortions across state lines. Unfortunately, this is just one of the military’s far-left, woke policies that Congress should review.
The Defense Department recently requested $140 million, up from $68 million and $86.5 million in 2022 and 2023, to expand the DOD’s Diversity Industrial Complex. This is an unaccountable network of single-minded advisory committees, task forces, working groups, and near-useless, highly paid consultants and diversity-crats who impose woke policy agendas on everything from promotions to reality-denying “gender-neutral” pronouns. Woke policies take leftism to extremes, even if they hurt the institution.
Sections in the pending defense bill would dismantle and defund all DEI offices. These Pentagon power bases consciously promote discrimination to achieve percentage-based demographic quotas, euphemistically called “goals.” The legislation also would drastically reduce the pay grade of DEI “experts,” while eliminating an existing network of Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs).
By approving these sensible measures, The NDAA Conference Committee would affirm that true “equality” means non-discrimination and recognition of individual merit, not favoritism for certain groups identified by race.
Biden Diversity-crats Disregard Supreme Court
Congress must act because the Biden Administration has learned nothing since it wound up on the losing side of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) vs. Harvard and the University of N. Carolina. In that landmark ruling, the court declared racial discrimination in higher education to be unconstitutional.
The military service academies were not parties in the Harvard/UNC litigation, but the Supreme Court rejected the administration’s “national security” trope regarding civilian college ROTC programs that educate approximately 70 percent of officers entering the Army. This strongly suggests that racial preferences in service academy admission policies are unconstitutional as well.
The SFFA has since filed new lawsuits directly challenging racially discriminatory admission practices at the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy. The Biden Administration nevertheless persistently claims that national security depends on discrimination to achieve “equity” for favored groups, even if less qualified applicants are accepted for limited spaces.
Litigation takes years, but Congress has the constitutional power and responsibility to end racial discrimination in the military right now.
Congress Should Prohibit Racial Discrimination
The diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucracy has been growing like a man-eating plant since President Biden signed Executive Order 14091. Biden’s order on “Further Advancing Equity” established a powerful DEI bureaucracy in all government departments, including Defense.
As stated in this CMR Policy Analysis, authors of Biden’s executive order may have anticipated future court challenges by defining “equity” as the treatment of “individuals in a fair, just and impartial manner.” The administration insists that DEI mandates are “permitted by law” or “consistent with applicable law.”
But there is a catch. If individuals file lawsuits claiming discrimination, the government will claim that the absence of law forbidding DEI practices authorizes them to pursue “equity” for favored groups by treating others differently.
The administration is determined to achieve percentage-based “equity” goals for “underserved communities,” defined as all racial and demographic groups except financially secure white males. Fortunately, provisions in both the Senate and House versions of the NDAA would define “equity” to mean “equality,” and require that all DOD personnel actions be based exclusively on individual merit and demonstrated performance.
The pending NDAA also would prohibit the DOD from directing or compelling acceptance of demoralizing critical race theory (CRT) instructions and “anti-extremist” programs. CRT ideology divides personnel into two groups: “oppressors,” often called “white supremacists,” and the “oppressed,” minority groups automatically assigned victim status.
The NDAA would specifically defund CRT programs teaching that any race is inherently superior, the United States and its founding fathers and documents are inherently racist, an individual’s moral character or worth is determined by their race or other superficial factors, and an individual’s race determines responsibility for actions committed by others.
In addition, House provisions would support military parents who don’t want their children to be exposed to CRT educational materials, often-secretive transgender advocacy, or drag queen story hours in Department of Education Activity (DODEA) schools.
And there’s more. Senate conferees should incorporate House bill provisions regarding Covid mandates, prohibitions on displays of unapproved flags on military bases and the use of DOD funds for transgender treatments and surgeries on adults and children, a dial-back on “climate change” executive orders limiting contractors’ greenhouse gas emissions, and even a prohibition of funds for “environmental, social, and governance” (ESG) advisory committees.
Fight, Don’t Switch on Abortion Travel Subsidies
Some Republicans considered supporting Democratic plans to circumvent Tuberville with a devious scheme to temporarily suspend standing orders to confirm hundreds of nominations en masse. Tuberville may have partially released his hold on mass confirmations of three-star officers and below, but the abortion travel issue remains unresolved.
The situation underscores the need for a House NDAA provision that would revoke Secretary Austin’s unilateral abortion travel subsidies and reaffirm congressional authority to make policy for the military.
However, if conferees remove the abortion travel prohibition and other positive NDAA provisions, the DOD likely will order travel subsidies for other controversial procedures, including very expensive “medically necessary” transgender treatments and surgeries for adults and dependent children in states where they are legal.
As this CMR Policy Analysis explains, Congress has the power to fix our military. Senate and House conferees should use the power of the Constitution and the power of the purse to produce a defense bill that replaces wokeism with sound social priorities that put military readiness first.