The Senate has recently passed a defense policy bill that leaves out most of the demands made by Republicans for amendments to the bill regarding culture war issues, and reflects the Democratic party’s rejection of those demands.
The bill in question, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, was passed with a total of 86 to 14 votes, and makes a total of 3.2 trillion dollars per year available for military spending and personnel. It contains several important points for the U.S. military, such as additional measures of oversight and accountability for private companies doing business with the government, an increase in military pay, a 3% pay raise for federal employees, and the creating of a US Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. military.
However, the bill does not include the Republican demands regarding policies like LGBTQ rights, abortion, and freedom of speech. The most notable amendment exclusion is the repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects platforms such as Facebook and Twitter from being held liable for content published by their users. The Republican party wanted to use this bill to introduce amendments that they have had difficulty passing in the past, but Democrats argued that the passing of the NDAA is not the appropriate setting for a culture war.
The specific demands of the Republican party were recently revealed by Senator Tom Cotton, in which he requested a variety of restrictions on the liberties of the LGBTQ community, such as the banning of transgender people from the U.S. military, and the prohibition of same-sex marriages in military facilities. Even more stringent measures were proposed to ban the teaching of gender identity in public schools, and allow for employers to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community.
Ultimately, the Republican amendments to the NDAA were struck down by the Democrats. While members of the Republican party have expressed their disappointment, the passage of the bill is a victory for the Democratic party, and demonstrates their commitment to defending the rights of all American citizens. The bill should be signed into law in the next few weeks.
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