Republicans are attempting to use the military budget to prevent the Pentagon from paying abortion travel.
Republican legislators are working on an amendment to a Department of Defense budget measure to stop the Pentagon’s new practice of paying for workers’ out-of-state abortion travel.
The Pentagon will cover the costs of military personnel who go out of state for abortions, according to a letter written on October 20 by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to top Pentagon officials.
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24, according to Austin, that the U.S. Constitution does not provide a right to abortion, the new policy was deemed essential. After the court ruled that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was no longer valid, some states banned or severely limited abortion.
Republican lawmakers didn’t like the message, and at least one of them wrote an amendment to the military budget bill for 2023 that would stop the department’s policy on abortion travel.
In a tweet on October 24, Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, expressed shock that the government is contemplating using tax money to “improperly” subsidize abortion travel.
The OB-GYN Marshall continued, “I’ve written a [National Defense Authorization Act] amendment to halt this.” With all of the difficulties we encounter on a global scale, the DoD must put our national security first. When the Senate reconvenes, Sen. [Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer must permit a thorough amendment process so that we may vote to reject this egregious memorandum. “
The new Department of Defense policy “must be opposed,” says Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., the leading member of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.
Rogers issued a statement saying, “I am profoundly disturbed that the Department of Defense has let President [Joe] Biden openly exploit the United States military for political reasons.” “DoD’s document from yesterday, issued over two weeks before the election, is a desperate political gimmick that undercuts the fundamental purpose of our armed forces,”
“Answers from the Department of Defense on how this document came to be,” asks Rogers.
Taxpayer funds intended to dissuade China and other rivals shouldn’t be wasted on political campaigns, according to Rogers. “DoD must be prevented from squandering any money on this abhorrent policy.”
While Marshall’s tweet suggests Republicans concerned about the use of tax dollars to pay for abortion travel see an amendment to the spending package as the most effective way to do so, Rogers did not specifically mention the National Defense Authorization Act as the vehicle of choice to torpedo the new abortion travel policy.
The approximately 3,900-page measure has already received bipartisan support in the House. It “authorizes funding for defense activities of the Department of Energy and military operations of the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2023.”
Before becoming a law, the proposal must still get the support of the Senate, which is equally split. There has not yet been a proposed amendment to overturn the Department of Defense’s abortion policy. Politico says that Republicans will push for a vote when lawmakers meet again on November 8 after the midterm elections.
On July 28, the NDAA was approved by the House, over three months before the Pentagon revealed its travel-related abortion policy. If the measure passes the Senate, whether or not Marshall’s amendment is included, the two chambers must compromise on the differences before the package can be sent to the president’s desk for final approval.
Currently, there are 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding Democratic vote in the event of a tie. To be included in the measure, an amendment prohibiting the use of tax money to fund abortion travel would need the backing of all Senate Republicans and at least one Senate Democrat.
Since the Democrats still have a slim majority in the House, at least a few of them would have to back the NDAA if the Senate version included a provision prohibiting the Defense Department’s abortion travel policy.
If the measure contains the addition when it comes to his desk, Biden, who has made abortion access a priority throughout his administration, could decide not to sign it.
After the midterm elections, the U.S. Congress will meet in a “lame duck” session, during which the NDAA is likely to be discussed.
On December 16, a continuing resolution that keeps funding for the government at current levels will run out.
If Congress can’t agree on the NDAA or if Biden won’t sign it, it could lead to a partial shutdown of the government, unless Congress passes another short-term continuing resolution to keep the government running at its current level of funding to avoid a shutdown.
The government enacted the abortion travel policy less than three weeks before the midterm elections, which will decide which party will control Congress for the next two years.
According to the FiveThirtyEight Deluxe Model, which makes election predictions based on “polls, fundraising, past voting patterns, and the opinions of political experts,” Republicans have an 81% chance of taking control of the House, while Democrats have a 51% chance of maintaining control of the Senate, according to the FiveThirtyEight Deluxe Model.
The Republican majority in one or both of the Houses of Congress might provide those who oppose the abortion travel policy additional power to thwart it via amendments to a later iteration of the NDAA or other legislative measures.
In a Congress controlled by Republicans, Biden would still have the last say in whether legislation is passed into law. Pro-life politicians and the pro-abortion administration are likely to argue about the travel ban for abortionists and other abortion-related issues for a long time to come.
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