July 07, 2017
As if health care weren't enough to keep the Hill hopping, members will be trying to check-off another major piece of their to-do list next week: the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). For more than 50 years, Congress has prided itself on passing the military's bill on time (or close to it), while the rest of the appropriations process falls into a mess of continuing resolutions and omnibuses. After eight years of Barack Obama, the Armed Forces is a shell of its former self, dropping to levels America hasn't seen since World War II. Almost immediately, the former commander-in-chief set to work on a radical makeover that, until last week, included the recruitment of people who identify as transgender.
At least temporarily, Defense Secretary James Mattis put a halt to the change, which FRC's Peter Sprigg calculated would cost America $3.7 billion dollars in 10 years. Conservatives like Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and Marine Corps vet Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) are determined to put the military's focus back where it belongs: on fighting and winning wars. But they'll need your help to do it! The six-month delay may be a good start, but it's a long way from rolling back a devastating policy that never had the approval of Congress.
As Vicky pointed out on last week's "Washington Watch," "We [Congress] are charged by the Constitution to provide for the common defense, so we have the ability to step in and to tell the Department of Defense, 'You will not [implement] this policy,' or 'You will study it further.' 'If you're not willing to take the prudent steps that we believe are necessary, we can.' This was done by the former secretary of defense -- and it can be undone by the current secretary of defense."
She's right. It should be Congress -- not Obama appointees with political agendas -- affirming or rejecting any policy. "They have left us with a policy right now that's very concerning to our military personnel at a time when we should be focusing on the threats from North Korea and [Vladimir] Putin and ISIS," Vicky said. "We're happy to deal with the threat here at home [of] allowing transgenders in our service, which is a huge problem because it impacts our readiness -- and it's a huge cost for our military. As you mentioned, we've been trying to advocate for increased defense spending because we've had sequestration, we've had all of these onerous cuts that have really jeopardized our ability to meet those threats."
Apart from the $3.7 billion cost in medical treatments and lost deployments, Vicky points out that the new policy "requires training of every military personnel -- a day-long training -- when they should be in the cockpit [or] on the firing range. They should be out there doing active-duty training, not sitting in a meeting room all day to hear about how, basically, I think their rights are going to be threatened -- because there are going to be privacy issues as well."
As the Army explains, they'll have full rights to "sleeping quarters, restroom facilities, and showers in the gender of their choice."
In a passionate hearing on the issue, Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) couldn't believe that we've arrived at a place in our nation where we're actually debating this possibility. "Transgender soldiers under these [training] vignettes are not required or expected to modify or adjust their behavior -- but everyone else is, violating their privacy, their rights, their morality and their unit cohesion," he said. "I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that we have lost our way as a nation."
Our military shouldn't be focused on making a fringe group feel good -- it should be focused on making America safe. And that's hardly possible with a costly -- and dangerous -- distraction like this one. If you want to support our troops, support the GOP's amendment to add conscience protections, defund the military's coverage of gender transitions, or roll back the entire Obama transgender policy. Email or call your House member today!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.