July 14, 2017
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) never served in the military -- but she's one of the strongest warriors you'll ever meet. And during yesterday's debate over the National Defense Authorization Act, that's exactly what America needed. While other Republicans ran and hid, she stood in the fire, fiercely determined to stop what Barack Obama started: the decimation of the world's greatest fighting force.
Unfortunately for our men and women in uniform, not every Republican cares about national security as much as Hartzler does. When the Missouri congresswoman tried to stop the runaway train of transgenderism, 24 Republicans said, "No thanks. We'd rather fund Obama's political correctness than restore the military." By a 214-209 vote, they told troops, taxpayers, and Trump that they'd prefer to spend $3.7 billion on gender reassignments than the military's own assignment: to fight and win wars.
If these Republicans were looking serve as "path finders" to the Congressional minority, they may have found it. According to the latest Rasmussen polling, only 23 percent of the country agrees with them that opening the doors to the gender-confused is good for the military. Add in the sky-high costs of treatments and lost deployment time, and that number would probably look generous by comparison. Like most service chiefs, Americans don't understand how anyone could justify spending billions on a radical medical procedure when the same amount could buy a Navy destroyer, 22 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Planes, 3,700 tomahawk missiles, or 116 Chinook helicopters. After this, Congressional conservatives who stood with Hartzler will -- and should -- question the extra $80 billion in defense funding Congress asked for in its latest defense budget. Does the military really need it if they're willing to spend $3.7 billion swapping people's parts -- instead of buying new ones for planes and tanks?
"This is about addressing [North] Korea, Russia, ISIS," Hartzler argued on the House floor. "We need every defense dollar to go to meeting those threats, not anything else, and we need to make sure our troops are ready and can be deployed." That will be even more difficult under Obama's policy, since, as she points out, "Military members undergoing transition surgery are non-deployable for up to 267 days. Similarly, regular hormone treatments renders individuals non-deployable into the future. It makes no sense to create soldiers who are unable to fight and win our nation's wars and unfair to non-transitioning individuals who must leave their families and deploy in their place."
Liberals countered Hartzler, calling her position "ignorant" and "mean-spirited." No, what's ignorant is wasting money on this dangerous distraction when our troops are fighting against enemies who know that tolerance doesn't win wars. Still, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) complained, "... Secretary of Defense [James] Mattis is running a review of this issue. He does not need to be micromanaged by members of this body to advance their own agendas."
With all due respect to a congressman who obviously hasn't read his job description, it's not micromanaging. It's Congress's duty to provide for the common defense -- something it failed to do last night when it voted down an amendment that wouldn't have even rolled back the Obama policy, but simply stopped money from being wasted on it. Also in the running for the most outrageous statements of the day: Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash), who had the audacity to say that defunding military sex changes is "a social agenda that has no business being in the defense bill." Other liberals, like Rep. Stephen Peters (D-Calif.) resorted to outright lies, claiming that Hartzler's amendment would somehow "bar access to medically necessary health care for military families." That's ridiculous. The only thing Vicky's measure would have done is stop the military from financing a completely optional surgery. As she said herself, "The amendment doesn't prevent anyone from receiving standard medical care."
Fellow Marine vet and Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) could only shake his head that this was even being debated. "You're joining the U.S. military. Choose what gender you are before you join. ... We're not stopping transgender people from joining. We're saying taxpayers in this country right now are not going to foot the bill for it."
President Trump has been intent on keeping his promises, and he should be keenly aware that Americans expect him to fulfill this one. In a gathering of retired military leaders during his campaign (moderated by FRC's Lt. General Jerry Boykin and myself), then-candidate Trump was asked how he would handle the social engineering in the military. "We are going to get away from political correctness," he vowed. "We have a politically correct military that is getting more and more politically correct every day, and a lot of people in this room don't even understand how it is possible to do that," he said. "And that is through intelligence -- not ignorance -- believe me, because some of the things they are asking you to do and be politically correct about are ridiculous."
Is there anything more ridiculous than funding an army of Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Mannings? Trump went on to say that he would "leave many of the decisions of some of the things you mentioned to the general, the admirals, the people on top. You have some discussions with some of these top enlisted people, who know it better than, probably, anybody. But we'd get our military people to come back and make recommendations to me, and I will follow those recommendations. I will follow them very strongly." If President Trump wants to lean on military leaders, he won't have to guess where they stand. Three service chiefs asked for a delay of this devastating policy (and for much longer than the one they were granted).
The Trump administration prides itself on being politically incorrect. There's no better time to prove it than now, when the future of national security hangs in the balance. If Congress won't act to protect our troops and taxpayers, the White House must. The American people rejected the Obama agenda in November. So why are we still letting it dictate our military policy?
Good question. One every one of these liberal enablers should ask themselves: Justin Amash (Mich.), Jack Bergman (Mich.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Barbara Comstock (Va.), Paul Cook (Calif.), Ryan Costello (Pa.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), John Faso (N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), John Katko (N.Y.), Steve Knight (Calif.), Leonard Lance (N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Tom MacArthur (N.J.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Bill Shuster (Pa.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), and no-shows Rodney Davis (Ill.), Sam Johnson (Texas), Raul Labrador (Idaho)*, Mark Sanford (R-S.C.)*, and David Valadao (Calif.).
* Members who were not present due to family emergencies.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.