ACLU Urges Congress to Vote Down GOP Amendments to Defense Budget Bill 

Via Wake Forest Law Review

By Citlalli Florez and Isabella Walker

WASHINGTON, DC – The ACLU last week urged Congressional members to vote against amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that threaten abortion access, adequate health care to transgender service members and military families, protections against race discrimination in the military, and also infringe upon protected speech.

In the letter sent out to members of Congress, the ACLU wrote, “Many amendments made in order by the rule today would undermine important steps that the Department of Defense has taken to protect civil liberties and civil rights.” 

“Congress should be a defender of liberty and the Constitution, but any member who approves of these amendments will undermine both,” stated Christopher Anders, the Federal Policy Director of the ACLU.

While these proposed amendments are up for consideration, GOP lawmakers are making a series of public “inflammatory comments” defending white supremacists in the military and denouncing reproductive care to individuals in the military and service families.

Anders reaffirms these amendments and lawmakers’ campaigning “reflect a narrow and racist vision for our military that most Americans do not share.

According to the ACLU, the proposed amendments would have numerous effects, including denying travel support would restrict abortion and reproductive health care for active duty members of the military, block transgender service members and their families from having access to gender-affirming services through TRICARE and the Exceptional Family Member Program.

The ACLU also charges the amendments would abolish programs developed by uniformed and civilian leadership. These programs were designed to end racism and discrimination within the military through diversity, equity and inclusion.

For example, the ACLU pointed to GOP Amendment 30, which would “prohibit federal funds from being used to establish a position within the Department of Defense for anything similar to Chief Diversity Officers or Senior Advisors for Diversity and Inclusion.”

The amendments would make it impossible to rename military facilities named for members of the confederacy and other prejudiced figures. Amendment 47 would “prohibit(s) the use of federal funds to carry out the recommendations of the Naming Commission.”

The amendments would also make further militarization and weaponization of state and local police easier. 

Finally, the ACLU writes passage of the amendments would ban certain books in schools which serve children from military families as well as infringing on academic research and free speech by misdirecting service academies’ admissions.

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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