House Republicans Pass Amendment to Overturn Pentagon Policy

( – The US Supreme Court voted to reverse its five-decade-old abortion precedent in 2022. The decision stripped women of federal protections to terminate their pregnancies, leading to near-total abortion bans in nearly two dozen states. President Joe Biden’s administration responded by enacting a controversial military policy. Republicans have now voted to rescind that policy.

The Policy

In October 2022, just a few months after the SCOTUS reversed Roe v. Wade, the Pentagon issued a reproductive health policy. The policy allowed the Pentagon to reimburse travel expenses and fees for service members and their dependents who want to have an abortion.

The Department of Justice is legally prohibited from directly paying for abortions because of the Hyde Amendment, which doesn’t allow the government to pay for the procedure using taxpayer money. Critics have argued the policy has the same impact as paying for terminations directly.

The policy was so controversial that Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) held up military confirmations and promotions for months in opposition to it. The senator demanded Democrats reverse the policy, or he would continue to do so. Eventually, he gave up, but not after several harrowing months and a traffic jam in the Senate.

Republicans Vote

On June 13, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) allowed a vote on an amendment threatening to upend the bipartisan harmony over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendment, introduced by Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX), would overturn the policy reimbursing service members. Lawmakers voted 214 to 207 to pass the measure. Two Republicans voted against the measure, and one Democrat agreed that the policy should be struck down.

Van Duyne told lawmakers the amendment was “about taxpayer-funded abortion.” She went on to accuse the Pentagon of “pandering to the abortion lobby” and said the policy “does nothing to increase our national security.”

Democrats said the proposal was an attack on women in the military. They warned that it would impact the passage of the $895 billion Pentagon bill. The legislation passed in the Armed Services Committee in May after a strong bipartisan vote.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) spoke to POLITICO about the amendment. The Air Force veteran said she was “sick and tired” of lawmakers telling service members what to do with their decisions related to their health care.

From June to December 2023, service members only asked for reimbursements 12 times. Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh revealed those dozen procedures cost American taxpayers about $40,000. The Defense Department didn’t track the program for the first five months after it was implemented.

The full House still has to vote on the NDAA.

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