Despite every single Republican voting against the National Defense Authorization Act, the bill easily made it through the House on Friday after congressional Democrats managed to convince their more radical peers to cast aside their own concerns and vote for it anyway.
Their method of persuasion reportedly involved sweetening the NDAA with a plethora of arguably radical last-minute amendments reportedly concerning President Donald Trump’s war powers, his administration’s ban on transgender troops and other highly charged topics.
The so-called “Progressive” wing of the party had reportedly been perturbed by both the bill’s allegedly high price tag — $733 billion — and its lack of provisions to protect illegal aliens.
Republicans meanwhile had opposed the bill because of its inadequate price tag — they’d reportedly sought a full $750 billion — and, more notably, because of all the “poison pills” that the original bill had contained.
“[T]his bill is packed with poison pills to appease this new Socialist-Democrat Party,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had warned during his weekly press briefing a day earlier.
“It cuts troop funding. It makes cuts to our military’s personnel accounts, the same accounts that fund troop pay, benefits, and housing. It makes America less safe. It cuts essential programs and capabilities needed to keep a competitive edge over China and Russia, such as hypersonics. It closes GITMO. It seeks to close GITMO’s facility, which would create a pathway to relocating known terrorists to U.S. soil.”
In a series of votes Friday, Democrats added even more “poison pills” to the bill.
“Earlier Friday, the House passed an amendment to prevent Trump from launching a military strike on Iran without prior congressional approval,” The Hill reported.
“Democrats also approved amendments to block emergency arms sales to Saudi Arabia, end U.S. military support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and repeal the 2002 authorization for the use of military force that authorized the Iraq War, among others.”
“Outside of war powers, amendments touched on a number of progressive priorities, including reversing Trump’s transgender military ban, giving federal employees 12 weeks of paid family leave, prohibiting military parades for political purposes and banning Pentagon funds from being used at Trump-owned properties.”
These “poison pills” were reportedly enough to convince even the Democrats’ most radical, far-left members to go ahead and vote yes despite their concerns.
“I held my nose and voted yes,” Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a far-left radical who’s previously expressed support for purging pro-life Democrats from the party and once falsely accused the president of wanting to make America racially pure, reportedly said after the vote Friday.
The fact that she felt compelled to hold her nose while voting for a bill jam-packed with liberal sweeteners does seem to go a long way at demonstrating how radical she happens to be.
The same goes for this year’s freshmen — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley — all of whom reportedly voted against the bill because it didn’t go far enough to implement their radical proposals.
One proposal pitched by AOC but ultimately voted down by the House had called for blocking the “deployment of troops to the border to enforce immigration laws” and barring “the use of funds to detain undocumented immigrants in Defense Department facilities,” according to The Hill.
The House is debating its last three NDAA amendments of the night. All are immigration related, including an amendment from AOC to prohibit deploying troops to the border to enforce immigration law.
— Connor O’Brien (@connorobrienNH) July 12, 2019
During a press briefing held after Friday’s vote, Congresswoman Liz Cheney called the Democrats’ eager willingness to transform the otherwise bipartisan NDAA into a partisan poison pill “shameful”
“It’s absolutely inexcusable, it’s absolutely shameful. … [T]o sit here in this body and watch Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership feel as though even before they got to the floor and started to have to placate the far-left wing of their party,” she said.
“[T]hey were providing cuts to the President’s top-line request, cuts to our missile defense, cuts to our modernization of our nuclear forces, refusing to allow us to deploy low-yield nuclear weapons. It’s shameful, they’re failing fundamentally to uphold their constitutional duty, and they’re failing in the most important thing we do, which is be worthy of the sacrifice of those men and women who put on the uniform and go to protect all of us.”
In his own statement, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise warned that the bill will greatly hamper the military’s ability to function — much as the 2013 sequestration had.
“We saw a few years ago, when our nation’s defense was being neglected, we were losing men and women in uniform to training deaths by a five-to-one margin over combat deaths,” he said. “Think about that. Because our men and women in uniform — not talking about battles in theater — but when they were here in America training to protect our country they were more at risk than when they went into combat. By a five-to-one margin.”
“And we finally started to reverse that. And this bill — they undermine those efforts by taking away some of the spare parts funding that was so necessary in stopping planes from falling out of the sky because they didn’t have the basic spare parts. That’s how dangerous this bill is that undermines our nation’s defense.”
What remains unclear is how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, intends to handle the incoming NDAA bill. Some believe he plans to ignore the Democrats’ entire NDAA and just move forward with his own NDAA bill that reportedly spends the full $750 sought by Republicans — and does so without the addition of liberal sweetners.
“I predict the bill the bill that ends up on the president’s desk is going to look a lot more like the Senate bill than the bill that came out of the House,” Scalise predicted Friday.
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