While most Americans’ work day is almost over, the House’s is just beginning. Members have been gearing up for an all-nighter since last week, when the two Armed Services Committees sent their versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the floor, where the caffeine will be flowing until the wee hours of Wednesday.
To kick off the long day, the House will slog through a round of 61 amendments, while another 377 wait for the Rules Committee’s green light. Working the graveyard shift isn’t unusual for the troop bill, which includes plenty of political hot potatoes — from women in the draft to religious liberty and the closing of Guantanamo Bay. With the goal of wrapping up Wednesday night, House members have a tall task ahead of them, especially with a military as depleted and demoralized as Obama’s.
For months, branch leaders have pleaded with Congress to do something about the Force, which they believe is alarmingly weak and unprepared. In a country where the Army was just slashed to pre-World War II levels, who’s surprised?
Welcome to Obama’s military: where the threats keep growing and the troops keep shrinking.
Trending: Does Supreme Court Need Term Limits?
Fortunately, the Republican majorities in the House and Senate are doing what they can to pull the military back from the brink. Under the version shepherded through the House Armed Services Committee by Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Congress will use the 2017 proposal to start rebuilding the Army and Marine Corps. “It buys more ships for the Navy and more planes for the Air Force and funds nuclear weapons modernization. The bill increases funding for training and maintenance, the building blocks of military readiness,” Justin Johnson writes for The National Interest. “While rebuilding the military will take years, this bill stops the bleeding and starts the healing.”
One of the most explosive parts of the mark-up was slated to be a battle over women in the draft. As part of the Senate debate, leaders agreed to open selective service to women, prompting conservatives like Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) to oppose the bill. “I commend Chairman John McCain and Ranking Member Jack Reed for addressing difficult efficiency and spending issues at the Department of Defense in this bill,” he said, “but I could not, in good conscience, vote in favor of the legislation because it includes provisions that I believe are misguided and ill-advised. First, the bill requires women between the ages of 18 and 25 to register for the Selective Service. This is a highly consequential — and, for many American families, a deeply controversial — decision that deserves to be resolved by Congress after a robust and transparent debate in front of the American people, instead of buried in an embargoed document that is passed every year to fund military pay and benefits.”
In the House, where liberals were all too happy to force our daughters into the infantry, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) pulled the language at the last minute — which may be a serious sticking point when the House and Senate bills head to conference. “I believe this action, taken after close consultation with Chairman [Mac] Thornberry and a number of my colleagues, ensures a reckless policy is not put forward without the proper information and oversight to make an informed decision.” With a nuclear Iran on the horizon and the rest of the world on edge, is the president really willing to risk national security to advance his own agenda? All signs point to yes.
While top defense officials desperately try to keep the branches afloat, the president’s team is pushing for more social engineering. Only this time, the heated discussion inside the Pentagon mirrors the national one outside of it. Like the rest of the country, the military is aghast that the administration’s main priority isn’t rebuilding troop morale or raising readiness, but rolling out the red carpet to people who identify as trans-gendered. In a rare bit of good news, the Washington Post reports that the push-back inside the ranks has been significant enough to halt the last big piece of the president’s radical military makeover. According to the Pentagon’s acting personnel chief, Peter Levine, “If there was a consensus on [repealing the ban on transgender service], yeah, we would have done it. But obviously there are different views from different officials in the service.”
Apparently, internal disputes are slowing the “progress” that Defense Secretary Ash Carter promised earlier in the year. The review process — which is normally just a formality, since the president forces his will regardless of the findings – is unearthing plenty of objectors to the change. Even so, most Obama appointees are adamant that it’s not a matter of if the ban is overturned but when.
In the meantime, the Department of Veterans Affairs is a frightening preview of the issues that await taxpayers if it is. Together with far-Left LGBT activists, a handful of vets are demanding that the VA cover sex-change surgeries, despite the fact that Americans are already footing the bill for hormone replacement and pre- and post- gender reassignment care. Not only is this an outrageous waste of time and money, but it says an awful lot about the twisted priorities of this administration. When veterans asked for better health care, transgender therapy probably wasn’t what most had in mind. Still, it’s a sad commentary on America when gender confusion entitles you to better care than most of the people who served.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.