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‘Woke’ military provisions are sticking points for GOP as vote on defense policy bill looms

Source image: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/woke-military-provisions-sticking-points-gop-vote-defense-policy-bill-looms

Republicans are pushing back against the inclusion of “woke” military policies in the annual defense policy bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and they plan to work to include provisions countering “wild” Biden administration policies as Democrats rush to push through a vote before the end of the year.

There has been discussion that Democrats may try and include the NDAA in a final end-of-year spending package, instead of allowing a separate vote on the defense bill, due to the lack of floor time before Congress leaves for the year. Senate Republicans say this strategy calls into question whether Congress can pass an NDAA, which sets military policy and spending levels for the Pentagon and other agencies in the country’s national defense infrastructure.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., blamed Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for playing politics with the NDAA by delaying its passage until the last minute and preventing robust debate on its contents.

“The military seems to be Chuck Schumer’s new favorite political football,” said Blackburn. “We have passed the defense authorization 61 years in a row. Right now, I am confident there will be broad bipartisan support for number 62 — which makes this tight timeline even more unnecessary.”

REPUBLICANS MOVE TO STRIKE DEM PROPOSAL TO INCLUDE WOMEN IN THE MILITARY DRAFT

Sen. Blackburn blamed Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for playing politics with the NDAA.

Sen. Blackburn blamed Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for playing politics with the NDAA.
(Elizabeth Frantz/Pool via AP)

Republicans oppose several provisions in the NDAA being considered by Democrats.

For example, Democrats have included language in the fiscal year 2023 NDAA to extend the military draft to women, prompting Republicans led by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to introduce the “Don’t Draft our Daughters” amendment.

“The defense bill isn’t the place for Democrats to indulge the wild ideas of their latest social experiments, like forcing women to register for the draft,” Cotton told Fox News Digital. “If Democrats want to protect America and keep our troops safe, they should agree to pass a clean bill and leave their woke pet projects out of it.”

In other cases, Republicans are looking to include language to chip away at Biden administration policies they oppose.

Blackburn told Fox News Digital that she is worried about President Joe Biden’s military vaccine mandate and will work to protect Americans against the “New Axis of Evil,” such as China and other adversaries, by ensuring the NDAA “protects our troops from being fired due to Biden’s vaccine mandate.” She said blunting the vaccine mandate is even more critical as the military faces a recruitment crisis.

BLACKBURN BILL ENDS PENALTIES FOR UNVAXXED SERVICE MEMBERS AFTER BIDEN SAID PANDEMIC IS ‘OVER’

"I will not stop fighting for our heroic service members," Blackburn said.

“I will not stop fighting for our heroic service members,” Blackburn said.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Passing NDAA is critical for national security,” said one Senate GOP aide. “We want to get it done. But members remain concerned about the vaccine mandate for military, which has created a military recruitment crisis.”

Blackburn introduced a separate bill in September that would end any punishment imposed against service members seeking religious accommodation to the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, after Biden said the pandemic is “over.”

The senator also offered two amendments to the NDAA in June to ensure military parents have control over their children’s education and that congressional funding for “woke” diversity, equity and inclusion Department of Defense programs would have more restrictions. Both amendments were defeated by Democrats during an Armed Services Committee markup.

GOP REP PROMISES TO TAKE AIM AT ‘WOKE’ MILITARY IF REPUBLICANS WIN ELECTION

“We have to have the troops and equipment necessary to keep us safe,” the GOP aide added, noting that much of the pushback is also coming from the House.

Earlier this month, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called for delaying a vote on the NDAA until 2023 due to the woke policies that are included in the legislation.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California called to delay the NDAA until 2023.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California called to delay the NDAA until 2023.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

“I’ve watched what the Democrats have done, especially in the NDAA, the ‘wokeism’ they want to bring in there,” McCarthy said during a pre-Thanksgiving press conference. “I actually believe the NDAA should be held up until the first of the year, and let’s get it right.”

Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., explained why he voted against the fiscal year 2023 NDAA in a statement from July: “Medical tyranny and wokeness do not improve our ranks — these policies undermine them and our combat readiness, subsequently undermining our national security. Furthermore, it’s both baffling and incredibly revealing that the Left’s ideology and vaccination obsession are prioritized at a time when every branch is struggling to reach recruitment and retention goals.”

The conservative Heritage Foundation released a report over the summer, urging Congress to remove provisions in the NDAA that would “foster corporate wokeness.” The House bill, which passed in July and now is being negotiated in the Senate, contains a provision that would require public companies to annually disclose “the racial, ethnic, gender identity, sexual orientation, and veteran status of their board directors, nominees, and senior executive officers,” according to the report. In addition, the provision would create a group that would focus on “increasing corporate diversity.”

“Aside from the obvious question of how such a provision was determined as appropriate for inclusion in a defense policy bill, the larger issue is that this requirement has no place in U.S. corporate governance,” states the Heritage report.

Republicans have promised to clean up “wokeness” in the U.S. military once they regain the majority in Congress.

“I think it’s one of our very top priorities to clean up the mess the administration has made with the excessive and dangerous COVID mandates on our troops at a time where we have historically low recruitment,” said Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Banks continued, “When it comes to the posture hearings and the legislative process of the NDAA, I think you can expect more of the same from what you’ve seen the last couple of years.”

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Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., the House Armed Services Committee ranking member, previously said that the GOP will be putting military personnel issues at the forefront of the agenda come January and also vowed to take aim at “woke” Pentagon policies.

Fox News Digital’s requests for comment from the GOP ranking members on the House and Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the NDAA were not returned.

Fox News’ Michael Lee contributed to this report.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/woke-military-provisions-sticking-points-gop-vote-defense-policy-bill-looms

Politics

Hot mic catches President Biden telling Cuban lawmaker he has to talk to him ‘about Cuba’

A hot mic after the State of the Union Tuesday evening caught President Biden telling Sen. Bob Menendez that he has to talk to him “about Cuba.”

Menendez, D-N.J., is a Cuban lawmaker and serves as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, an influential committee for initiating legislative proposals in the chamber. 

“Bob, I gotta talk to you about Cuba,” Biden said to the senator. 

The moment was caught on C-SPAN cameras as Biden spoke with Menendez and Rep. Adam Schiff, who House Speaker Kevin McCarthy blocked from joining the House Intelligence Committee. 

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President Biden takes photographs with members of Congress after speaking during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. 

President Biden takes photographs with members of Congress after speaking during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.  (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Menendez is heard replying, “Okay.”

The lawmaker seemed confused by the president’s comment.

“I’m serious,” added Biden. 

BIDEN APPEARS TO GO OFF SCRIPT TO SAY US NEEDS OIL, GAS DRILLING

Menendez, the son of two Cuban migrants, has spent much of his time working in the House of Representatives and later the U.S. Senate on immigration and national security issues.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on January 26, 2023, in Washington, D.C. 

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on January 26, 2023, in Washington, D.C.  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Rep.-elect Robert Menendez Jr., D-N.J., and his father Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on the House floor of the U.S. Capitol, on Tuesday, January 3, 2023. 

Rep.-elect Robert Menendez Jr., D-N.J., and his father Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on the House floor of the U.S. Capitol, on Tuesday, January 3, 2023.  (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

He is also credited with helping push through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which went into effect under former President Barack Obama.

Menendez is currently prioritizing his efforts on “competing with China, confronting the global pandemic, and restoring the United States’ place as a leader around the globe,” according to his official government website.

President Biden exits after delivering the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. 

President Biden exits after delivering the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.  (Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

President Biden, center, speaks during a State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. 

President Biden, center, speaks during a State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.  (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

President Biden addressed competition with China during Tuesday evening’s address, saying he welcomed competition but would act swiftly to push back on any action that threatens U.S. sovereignty. 

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“But make no mistake about it: as we made clear last week, if China’s threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did,” said Biden, referencing the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down by the U.S. military last week.

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Politics

Georgia Senate votes to block COVID-19 vaccine requirements at schools, government agencies

The Georgia Senate approved a measure Tuesday to prohibit schools and most state and local government agencies from mandating the coronavirus vaccine.

The legislation, Georgia State Senate Bill 1, passed the state Senate 31-21. The bill would not apply to healthcare providers subject to federal requirements that employees must be vaccinated to continue receiving federal payments.

A one-year ban on vaccine requirements was enacted last year, and this bill would make that measure permanent.

“We have lived for a year under the previous version of this law,” said Republican state Sen. Greg Dolezal, the bill’s main sponsor. “That law is set to sunset this summer so we just removed the sunset and said that we’re never going to have a day in Georgia where governments refuse services to its constituents based on whether or not they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.”

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The Georgia Senate approved a measure Tuesday to prohibit schools and most state and local government agencies from mandating the coronavirus vaccine.

The Georgia Senate approved a measure Tuesday to prohibit schools and most state and local government agencies from mandating the coronavirus vaccine. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Dolezal said he does not believe the government should “discriminate against citizens” based on their vaccination status.

The current one-year ban passed in 2022 is set to expire on June 30.

“We know that there’s been a movement building in America to demonize vaccinations and do it in the name of individual rights,” Democrat Sen. Nan Orrock said, adding that lawmakers who voted for the new bill are “fundamentally signing on to the anti-vaccination movement” and tying the government’s hands should COVID-19 worsen again.

The bill bans state agencies, local governments, schools and colleges from requiring proof of vaccination.

The bill would not apply to healthcare providers subject to federal requirements that employees must be vaccinated to continue receiving federal payments.

The bill would not apply to healthcare providers subject to federal requirements that employees must be vaccinated to continue receiving federal payments. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“When we throw bills up on the floor and take votes on them in the General Assembly that result in further undermining the public’s faith in vaccines and in public health measures, I think that poses a danger to all of us in the long run,” Orrock said. “It is not wise.”

Republican Sen. Ben Watson, a medical doctor, said a mandate is not needed since the virus has become less severe.

“The science certainly has evolved, the disease certainly has evolved,” Watson said.

COVID-19’S LASTING IMPACT: ‘LESS ATTRACTIVE’ PEOPLE WEAR MASKS MORE OFTEN THAN OTHERS, STUDY FINDS

A one-year ban on vaccine requirements was enacted last year, and this bill would make that measure permanent.

A one-year ban on vaccine requirements was enacted last year, and this bill would make that measure permanent. (iStock)

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Democrats, meanwhile, claim COVID-19 is less lethal thanks to vaccines and other public safety measures, and that there is no guarantee the virus will remain that way.

The bill now heads to the state House for consideration. 

Dolezal has said he plans to introduce a separate bill to make the current five-year ban on school mask mandates permanent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Biden’s State of the Union touted economic success, but are Americans better off?

President Biden touted his economic accomplishments during his State of the Union address, but Americans across the country shared divided views on how their finances have fared two years into his term.

“If I didn’t work in a restaurant, I don’t think I’d be able to afford to eat,” Romello, a Washington state resident, told Fox News. “I’m dipping into my savings now.”

The cost of living is “crazy expensive” and rent is “mind-blowing,” he said. 

But Michael, of Nashville, said his financial situation has improved.

I make more money than I did three years ago,” he said. 

AMERICANS SHARE HOW THEIR FINANCIAL SITUATION HAS CHANGED UNDER BIDEN’S PRESIDENCY:

WATCH MORE FOX NEWS DIGITAL ORIGINALS HERE

A recent Fox News poll reported that 61% of registered voters disapproved of Biden’s handling of the economy. Additionally, 45% of respondents said economic conditions are “poor” while 35% answered “only fair.”

“We’re building an economy where no one’s left behind,” Biden said Tuesday during his State of the Union address. “Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last several years.”

Laura of Bellingham, Washington, doesn’t feel she’s in a better position than before Biden took office.

“Definitely worse off, but I still sit in a role of privilege,” she told Fox News. “So I’m fortunate enough to have weathered the storm without it being fully damaging to my family.” 

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Laura said she is worse off financially under President Biden.

Laura said she is worse off financially under President Biden. (Fox News Digital / Hannah Ray Lambert)

But Rich, a D.C. resident, said: “If you look at it closely, the jobs are way up, inflation is down, corporate earnings are way up, wages are up.” 

“So, yes, all in all, I think the economy is doing better, although most people apparently do not think so,” he continued.

U.S. employers added 517,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.4% — the lowest since 1969, according to the Department of Labor. But some economists warned that labor participation rates are still below pre-pandemic levels, though others say the report shows promise for sectors hit hard by the pandemic.

FOX NEWS POLL: STATE OF THE UNION IS DYSFUNCTION, DISSATISFACTION AND DISAPPROVAL

Joe Biden speaks about the progress of the administration's economic agenda.

Joe Biden speaks about the progress of the administration’s economic agenda. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, some Americans told Fox News they’re preparing for harder times ahead.

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“I’m being a little bit smarter and more frugal,” Pola, of Austin, said. “Especially for somebody like me in the service industry, you definitely have a little bit tougher of a time making your money.”

And a Nashville man said: “Things are more expensive, and I think it’s just digging us into a deeper hole.”

To watch the full responses, click here

Hannah Ray Lambert reported from Bellingham, Washington; Megan Myers from Washington, D.C.; Gabrielle Reyes from Austin; and Teny Sahakian from Nashville.

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