US military installations would be explicitly barred from hosting stories about drag queens for children.
Women would have less access to abortion medication ordered by mail.
The congressional office responsible for diversity and inclusion would be closed and federal agencies would not be allowed to promote critical race theories.
House Republicans have begun stuffing government spending bills with partisan policy mandates aimed at amplifying culture war issues, mounting political clashes with the Democratic-controlled Senate to go along with funding disputes already looming that could lead to a shutdown from the government this fall.
The two chambers were already on a collision course with dollars and cents, with Republicans bowing to their hard-right members and pushing for lower funding levels than the two sides had agreed to in a bipartisan deal to suspend the debt limit. Now, in another nod to the demands of the far right, Republicans on the Appropriations Committee are using the spending bills to argue over a litany of policy issues that appeal to their bases.
A particularly bitter battle for funds is brewing for the Justice Department, which has become a prime target of Republicans who claim it is politically biased against the right, including Mr. Trump. Right-wing lawmakers have pledged to cut the department’s budget and proposed a slew of restrictions on the agency, including cutting funding for the special counsel overseeing the former president’s investigations and withholding funding for a new FBI. -headquarters.
“I will not vote for ANY appropriation bill to fund the government’s armaments,” Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said. pledged on Twitter when she announced her proposal to remove the office of special counsel in the Trump investigations. It is not yet clear whether that measure will be added to the legislation.
Such provisions could cause many of the GOP-written spending bills to die upon arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate, paving the way for a government shutdown if the disputes cannot be resolved by Sept. 30, or automatic cuts in early 2025 if Congress fails to clear all dozens of individual spending bills.
Adding so-called “riders” — provisions that sometimes have little to do with the underlying law — to credit bills was once a common practice for lawmakers seeking to influence policy on a range of hot-button issues, such as abortion and the environment.
But while the appropriation process on Capitol Hill has failed in recent years, massive packages that aggregate all or most of the federal funding into one bill to be passed or not negotiated by congressional leaders in both parties have replaced individual spending measures, increasing the opportunities for ordinary legislators to address such items.
With members of both parties pledging to work through the 12 individual bills, policy drivers are once again raising their heads and threatening to further complicate what is already shaping up to be a fraught process. The bipartisan deal brokered last month by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden to suspend the debt ceiling stipulated that lawmakers must ensure that all dozens of spending bills that fund the government are passed and signed by the end of the calendar year. If even one bill were to go off the rails, a blanket cut of 1 percent would go into effect in 2025.
The process also risks sparking another mutiny among far-right lawmakers, who could refuse to support final compromise bills that don’t include their pet policy drivers. In that scenario, it would be up to a coalition of lawmakers, similar to the one that approved the debt limit agreement, to push the spending bills through the House.
Far-right Republicans rioted earlier this month after the debt ceiling deal failed to include some of the measures they had agitated for that were included in the House’s original GOP proposal, though they never had any chance of being passed by Democrats controlling the Senate and White House.
Appropriators have already endorsed policy riders who are similarly dead on arrival as they prepare their spending bills and pass them to the committee, arguing that they are using constitutionally entrenched tools to push back against what they call the politically divisive agenda of the Biden administration. called.
“I know many of you here today will be very critical of these new riders. I wish they weren’t needed,” said Representative Ken Calvert of California, the top Republican on the defense subcommittee. “It is the department’s own leadership, not us, that is causing these problems.”
Lawmakers on the subcommittee that funds the Food and Drug Administration included a provision that would effectively ban access to abortion medication by mail, a practice that is still legal in most states. Another would cut funding for climate change research at the agriculture department.
Tucked into the military spending bill that was approved by the committee on Thursday along partisan lines was a measure that would block security clearances for 51 former intelligence officials who signed a public letter during the 2020 presidential campaign warning that the leak of lewd material on the abandoned laptop belonging to President Biden’s son, Hunter, could be part of a Russian campaign to influence the election.
Another provision would ban programs on military installations that would “discredit the military,” including “drag queen story hour for children” and the “use of drag queens as military recruiters.”
The move was prompted by GOP outcry surrounding a planned story about a drag queen at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and an online pilot Navy recruiting program that included promotion by an active-duty officer and a social media influencer acting as drag queen.
“An awakened army is a weak army,” said Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Republican of Georgia and a member of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, later adding that “traditionally patriotic recruits avoid enlisting.”
Democrats were already outraged that the House’s Republican appropriators have moved to fund federal agencies below the spending levels that Mr. Biden and Mr. McCarthy agreed to in the debt-limit compromise. Republican proprietors agreed to embrace the lower levels to meet the demands of the Freedom Caucus after shutting down the House to express their anger over the debt ceiling deal.
“The allocations before us reflect the change that members on my side of the aisle want to see in reducing spending to responsible levels,” said Representative Kay Granger of Texas, the chair of the Appropriations Committee.
The policy challenges have sparked new anger among Democrats, who were already outraged by the lower spending levels.
“In my 16 years as an appropriator, I have never seen such shocking and extreme policy elements put into an appropriation bill, let alone the defense bill,” said Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the subcommittee on military appropriations. “It’s very clear that all these divisive horsemen need to get out or this bill won’t get the bipartisan support it needs to become law.”
But members of the Freedom Caucus are pushing for the possibility of adding even more policy changes when the spending measures reach the House of Representatives. Congressional leaders have toiled in recent years to protect appropriations from such amendments, both to protect their most vulnerable members from politically difficult votes and to ensure that legislation passes quickly, often hours before the government is about to close. .
Representative Chip Roy of Texas, who is part of the Rules Committee, the panel that decides which bills to consider on the House floor and what amendments to propose, said those days were over. Lawmakers would be “definitely able to have word amendments,” he said.
“I certainly welcome any amendments needed to reduce federal spending,” Mr. Roy added.