Conservatives Flex Muscles to Kill Woke Provisions from Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 23: U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) speaks during a news conference on the infrastructure bill with fellow members of the House Freedom Caucus, outside the Capitol Building on August 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. The group criticized the bill for being too expensive and for supporting …
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Conservatives took a victory lap this week after flexing their muscles to kill progressive provisions in the defense bill that authorizes the Pentagon’s yearly budget and activities.

During negotiations with the Senate on a final version of the National Defense Authorization Act, conservatives were able to extract key concessions from Democrats that would have been huge victories for the Biden administration’s woke military agenda.

As it originally stood, the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act would have required women to register for the draft, allowed military courts to confiscate firearms from service members without due process, and created a new office in the Pentagon to focus on “extremists” in the military.

And although there was a provision authored by Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) to ban service members from being dishonorably discharged for declining the COVID-19 vaccine, the Biden administration had called for it to be removed.

But conservatives in Congress succeeded in killing those provisions and maintaining the ban on dishonorable discharges during negotiations with the Senate on the compromise version of the bill, which was released Tuesday evening and passed by House.

Freedom Caucus member Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) has been credited for leading the fight against the draft provision in the House.

He said in a statement Tuesday evening that the bill still “contains and extends far too many troubling provisions that advance wokeism at the expense of military excellence,” but said he is “extremely grateful for the hard work of my Republican colleagues to dramatically improve this bill.” He said:

In particular, I am grateful that the provisions that would draft my daughter along with other young women across the country were removed from the legislation. This is a drastic improvement and I want to thank Senators [Josh] Hawley, [Mike] Lee, & [Tom] Cotton, [Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and [House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mike] Rogers, and a number of my other colleagues, particularly those in the House Freedom Caucus who are always willing to do the hard work of fighting for the people while some others often just talk about it.

Credit is also due to those who worked to remove the so-called ‘office of extremism,’ as well as gun-grabbing ‘red flag’ laws that would trample upon our service members’ Second Amendment rights. A nation founded on certain unalienable rights should never seek to infringe those rights.

He also said he was grateful to Green for his provision to eliminate dishonorable discharges for troops declining the vaccine.

Green, another member of the House Freedom Caucus and a combat veteran, said in a statement, “We must always stand for our brave men and women in uniform all around this world. These victories are a testament to everyday Americans all across the nation who made their voices heard in the halls of Congress.”

The House Freedom Caucus officially urged its 49 members to vote against the NDAA as early as September.

Heritage Action, the advocacy arm of the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, also played a large role behind the scenes in getting the draft provision scrapped, tapping a network of two million grassroots activists across the country who made calls to members, drafted letters to the editor, and showed up to events.

Heritage Action Executive Director Jessica Anderson said:

We have been advocating against really any provision around Draft our Daughters as far back actually as 2013. What made the effort this year different than years in the past, are really two things. One, you had grassroots Americans, moms, women…speaking out against this. That wave of opposition from the grassroots made this become a priority issue for the negotiators.

Two, a lot of members waking up that they can’t allow any form of a woke agenda to interject in places it doesn’t need to be. This was clearly a woke effort that did nothing for the military, it did nothing for women, it was entirely a social engineering ploy from the left to get it into the NDAA. It had nothing to do with supporting our troops, bolstering our national defense, and it hadn’t even really been properly debated.

Anderson credited Roy for his efforts. “He was sounding the alarm bells against this for as long as we have.” She also credited Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Mike Lee (R-UT) for leading the fight against the provision in the Senate. She credited groups including Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, and Eagle Forum. She said:

When you actually have all the forces lining up, grassroots and a willing champion or lawmaker on Capitol Hill, like we had with our partners Hawley, Lee and Chip Roy, that’s when we actually have the ability to get something done, and that’s a huge takeaway for conservative activists, because this is how we can get stuff done while Republicans are in the minority.

The defense bill caused a row between some Republicans in Congress.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) called the House Freedom Caucus “grifters” during an event on Sunday and defended his support for the original House version of the NDAA, which included the red flag provision, arguing that “everyone knew” there was already a deal to take it out of the final version of the bill and that he was the “only member of Congress” with a bill to outlaw federal red flag laws.

After the Lincoln Project highlighted his remarks in a tweet and tagged some members of the Freedom Caucus, Crenshaw accused them of trying to “stir shit up” and said he did not name any members.

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) fired back at Crenshaw, tweeting:

Who told you this was a good idea @DanCrenshawTX? Neo-conservative is just another way of saying ‘not conservative.’ Every actual conservative scorecard exposes these lies. Actual conservatives oppose bankrupting America, spying on Americans, and crony surveillance capitalism.

Several House Freedom Caucus members still voted against the final bill for not taking out more woke provisions, including Roy, who said, “While these egregious provisions were rightfully stripped, I still could not support the final version of the bill.”

“Rather than focusing solely on its core purpose to strengthen our national security, this NDAA fails to hold the Pentagon accountable in any meaningful way for the disaster in Afghanistan and thirteen killed marines, advances [Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity] and gender identity policies and programs while continuing to fund CRT and diversity officers, and continues to fund and advance climate literacy trainings,” he said.

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