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'A Battle Ahead': The Partisan Divide Over Defense Spending

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) scored a win Friday when Republicans united to pass a nearly $900 billion defense bill for fiscal 2024. 

The annual defense bill typically receives bipartisan support, but this time around, all but four House Democrats opposed the legislation. At issue, are a number of GOP-sponsored amendments regarding abortion, transgender rights, and diversity.

"It is woefully irresponsible that extreme MAGA Republicans have hijacked a bipartisan bill that is essential to our national security and taken it over and weaponized it in order to jam their extreme right-wing ideology down the throats of the American people," said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

"Republicans continue to keep our promises...Technically, it's a bipartisan vote, with four Democrats voting with us. Are the rest of the Democrats against a pay raise for their veterans? Are they against deterring China for a safe future? Are they against rooting out wasteful spending?" questioned McCarthy.

slider img 2The measure that mainly appears to have eroded the Democrats' support: a reversal of a Pentagon policy providing reimbursement for abortion travel across state lines. It's the same policy Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has been protesting since February by blocking the confirmation of all senior military officers. 

Members of the House Freedom Caucus say they hope their defense bill motivates Senate Republicans to back Tuberville's efforts. 

"Taxpayer money is provided to the DOD and intended to provide for our national defense and our national security. It is not to promote and support the Biden administration's radical, immoral, pro-abortion agenda," said Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX).

Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan says the current House defense bill stands no chance of reaching the president's desk.

"What's real is the necessary capabilities, technologies, and fundamental social support for our troops and their families. That's what this all should have been focused on, not these domestic, political issues," Sullivan said on CNN's State of the Union.

The Senate now begins debate on its own defense bill, which cleared the Armed Services Committee with bipartisan support just a few weeks ago. When their final version passes, House and Senate negotiators will work on a compromise bill to send to President Biden.

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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also hosted the CBN News original podcast, The Daily Rundown. Some of Caitlin’s recent stories have focused on the national security threat posed by China, America’s military strength, and vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. She joined CBN News in July 2010, and over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to cover stories both domestically and abroad. Caitlin began her news career working as a production assistant in Richmond, Virginia, for the NBC affiliate WWBT