Tampons and Tulips? Lawmakers Pitch 650 Amendments to Annual Defense Bill
Other proposed changes to the House defense authorization act would delay new ICBMs and hasten warship retirements.
First, we had freedom fries. Now, we might have freedom flowers.
The House on Wednesday began considering this year’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets various aspects of Pentagon policy. The legislation addresses many weighty issues, from budget toplines to how many airplanes and ships the services buy, but because it’s typically among a handful of “must-pass” bills in a given year, lawmakers often try to attach unrelated or odd proposals.
The House Rules Committee this week decided that the House would consider 650 of the more than 1,200 amendments that were submitted. One is a bipartisan proposal from Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wa., that would require all flowers displayed in the White House, State Department, and Defense Department to be grown in the United States.
“A cut flower or a cut green may not be officially displayed in any public area of a building of the Executive Office of the President, of the Department of State, or of the Department of Defense that is in a state of the United States or in the District of Columbia, unless the cut flower or cut green is produced in the United States,” the amendment says.
The plan, which will get a vote in the House, makes exceptions for personal floral displays, gifts from other countries, and floral arrangements in embassies overseas, and would take effect one year after the bill passes.
Lawmakers will vote on a second bipartisan buy-American amendment that would require all flags purchased by the Defense Department to be made in the United States from materials that are produced in the United States.
The rules committee declined to consider amendments on some of the most politically-charged issues. The panel rejected two amendments on abortion: a Republican proposal to prohibit military bases from leasing land to abortion providers and a Democratic amendment to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which forbids military doctors from performing abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or elevated risk to the life of the pregnant person. The House also will not consider an amendment from Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., that would reinstate the Trump administration’s ban on transgender troops serving.
Here’s a look at some other interesting amendments lawmakers will vote on this week:
- Democratic lawmakers led by D.C.’s Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced a plan to give the mayor of the District of Columbia authority over its National Guard the same way governors control the Guard in their states. The District of Columbia’s lack of control over the National Guard became a hot-button issue when troops were delayed in responding to the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt at the Capitol, in part because their deployment required approval from the U.S. defense secretary.
- A Democratic amendment would pause development of the new land-based leg of the nuclear triad for nearly a decade. The proposal, led by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., would extend the life of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles until at least 2040 and pause until 2031 all work on the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program to develop a replacement ICBM called Sentinel.
- Lawmakers will consider two amendments related to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. A bipartisan proposal would require troops who served at Hamid Karzai International Airport during the evacuation to undergo a psychological evaluation. A second amendment from Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.V., would direct the Defense Department to create a memorial to the 13 troops who died when terrorists attacked the airport.
- Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., is leading two proposals to cut the national security budget for 2023. One would cut $100 billion, while the other would undo the nearly $37 billion increase above the president’s request that was approved by the House Armed Services Committee.
- Three Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, are seeking to limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia as long as leaders there target political dissidents with violence, keep Americans imprisoned, and torture detainees. Congress is likely to debate this proposal during President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East, which includes a stop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
- A bipartisan group of eight lawmakers are asking the government to conduct a government-wide tabletop exercise within the next year to prepare a response for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
- Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, introduced an amendment that would allow the Navy to retire nine littoral combat ships. The service sought to retire the ships in the president’s budget request, but lawmakers pushed back, arguing that the fleet needed to grow, not shrink. House Armed Services Committee members agreed on a plan to save five of the nine ships that the administration asked to mothball.
- Democrats have put forth three proposals to increase the prioritization of fighting climate change at the Pentagon and State Department. The amendments would establish a new climate-change officer role at embassies, require the GAO to study how the Defense Department is reducing single-use plastics, and create an Office of Climate Resilience within the White House.
- Lawmakers are trying to repeal two outdated authorizations for the use of military force: the 2002 document that authorized military action in Iraq after 9/11 and the 1991 authorization that has been on the books since the Gulf War.
- As always, lawmakers are trying to add a number of amendments not related to national security to the bill, including one from Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., that would require public buildings like the Capitol and Smithsonian museums to provide tampons and sanitary pads in bathrooms free of charge.