(RightWing.org) – Congress oversees the annual defense budget through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The measure determines the agencies and departments responsible for defense, establishes funding levels, and oversees the policies and procedures for spending the money. Lawmakers must pass the measure annually. The Biden administration is pushing back on portions of this year’s NDAA dealing with diversity issues and merit-based rules for troops.
On July 10, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a Statement of Administration Policy objecting to several portions of the NDAA for fiscal year 2024 (HR 2670) as introduced by Representatives Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Adam Smith (D-WA) on April 18.
Buried among the document’s eight pages of grievances is a short passage devoted to the Biden administration’s objections to new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) provisions. The OMB statement noted that one of the Defense Department’s top priorities has been creating a “resilient Joint Force and defense enterprise,” adding that several specific sections of the new NDAA ran counter to that aim.
The noted sections covered issues ranging from recruitment quotas to the termination of some diversity programs. Critical updates included the following portions of the defense authorization.
- Section 523: Beginning on September 30, 2024, armed forces recruiters cannot take an individual’s race or gender into account when hiring recruits. Likewise, promotion decisions and assignments for current troops must be based on their “talent and abilities,” “performance, integrity… and conduct.” In other words, a merit-based system will determine future military personnel decisions.
- Section 566: Prohibits using federal funds for educational programs promoting critical race theory at service academies, personnel training, and professional military education.
- Section 596: Terminates the Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion no later than September 19, 2024.
- Section 598: Bars the use of federal funds for the Defense Department’s Countering Extremism Work Group.
- Section 904: Eliminates the Chief Diversity Officer of the Department of Defense.
- Section 1046: Blocks funding for advisory committees related to various governance issues regarding “race, ethnicity, gender identity… or socioeconomic standards.”
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) authored the merit and some of the DEIA provisions of the proposed NDAA. He told the New York Post he considered the Biden administration’s “opposition” to his amendments to last year’s measures “a badge of honor.” He also warned that “wokeness is a cancer” that would destroy the nation’s military forces from within if lawmakers fail to take action to “stop it.”
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