Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) issued the following statement in response to House passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024:
“While the NDAA has historically been a bipartisan bill to bolster our national security and support our men and women in the military, House Republicans have hijacked this bill to advance their extreme and divisive agenda,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “My vote against the House-version of the NDAA was a vote of strong condemnation against the many harmful and offensive provisions included in what is normally a bipartisan, must-pass legislative package.
“While the original bill passed out of committee with strong bipartisan support, Speaker McCarthy once again relinquished his responsibility, turning power over to MAGA Republicans who opted to use the NDAA amendment process as a weapon to attack women’s rights, the LGBTQ community, and people of color, instead of addressing the urgent challenges to our national security.
“House Republicans’ extremism knows no bounds. As they are actively trying to impose a national ban on abortion, they resorted to using the National Defense Authorization Act as a means for doing so. Women, a rapidly growing cohort of servicemembers who presently make up around 20% of our Armed Forces, deserve better. This bill would not only strip women in uniform of their bodily autonomy but it would also prevent many servicewomen from accessing life-saving reproductive health care.
“It is important to note that servicewomen experience higher unintended pregnancy rates than their civilian counterparts, largely due to limited access to contraceptive services and sexual assault. It is an appalling reality that nearly 1 in 4 servicewomen have reported sexual harassment during their careers. Yet, instead of working to make our military a safe and inclusive environment for women to serve, House Republicans are willing to force a woman who is raped, or whose life is endangered by a pregnancy, to pay for her own travel to access abortion care.
“It is awful that this bill refuses to protect those who have sworn a solemn oath to defend our fellow Americans. It is further unacceptable that this bill attacks the rights of LGBTQ servicemembers and drags the politicization of classrooms into the lives of our military families. It is without question that our military cannot grow stronger if we choose to target servicewomen and LGBTQ servicemembers, who answer the call to duty.
“While Congressional Republicans are using our servicemembers as pawns in an ideological debate, House Democrats remain committed to putting people over politics. Today, I joined my colleagues in voting no on final passage of this reckless and disheartening bill, which launches reprehensible attacks on our servicemembers and fails to legitimately approach the serious issue of national security.
“I trust that the Senate will reject these harmful amendments, and I will work to ensure the final FY2024 NDAA invests in our national defense and supports our servicemembers.”