Jun 25, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Republicans save fireworks for House floor debates

this is matt gaetz talking

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) during votes for the next GOP House speaker. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Republicans expect a "spicy" fight over renewing defense spending to play out directly on the House floor, rather than getting buried in the drone of committee hearings.

Why it matters: Multiple GOP lawmakers have told Axios they want to force the whole chamber to take difficult positions on some of the most controversial amendments.

  • The bill made it out of the House Armed Services’ markup with relatively little tension during proceedings, but Republicans on the panel saved some of the most controversial amendments for the floor vote.

What they're saying: House Armed Services Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) told Axios that “my view is, what we have in committee, whoever loses is going to want to undo it, so the spicy still will be on the floor.”

  • “I'd like to see every member of Congress vote on some of those questions, not just the members of the Armed Services Committee," said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). “We're going to get radical gender ideology out of the military, and we're getting critical race theory out of the military, and we're going to get this perverse obsession with DEI out of the military."
  • Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) had an abortion-related amendment teed up for committee that is now being held for the full House to vote on, telling Axios in a statement that "the radical left’s pro-abortion agenda has no place in our military."

Between the lines: The committee hearings still featured some action.

  • Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) — who is running for Senate — touted the passage of his amendments to suspend the Navy Digital Ambassador Program, which used videos on social media featuring a drag performer as part of its recruitment efforts.
  • He also got through an amendment to block major Department of Defense contracts for electric nontactical vehicles until they can certify there is sufficient charging infrastructure in combat zones.

Gaetz’s amendment calling for a study into the Pentagon's costs for critical race theory training sparked a heated debate among members.

  • Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) alleged Gaetz "wants to create divisions in the military," prompting calls for his words to be stricken from the record on Wednesday evening.

The bottom line: The Senate is also working on its version of the NDAA, with the final product that can pass both chambers expected to look substantially different than what passes out of the House.

  • The final legislation could spell issues for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in the lower chamber, with far-right hardliners repeatedly blasting him for bringing bipartisan bills they feel aren’t conservative enough to the floor.
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