Defense bill scores big wins for GOP on drag shows, DEI and COVID vaccines, internal House memo says

FIRST ON FOX: The House Armed Services Committee is circulating a memo to fellow lawmakers stressing the conservative wins in this year’s annual defense policy bill in a bid to unite Republicans around the bipartisan legislation.

The 3,000-page text of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was released late on Wednesday night, a product of lengthy negotiations between the GOP-controlled House and Democrat-held Senate.

A 17-page document of suggested talking points, obtained by Fox News Digital, was sent around to House Republicans on Thursday morning before an expected chamber-wide vote next week.

The compromise bill includes several key victories for the GOP on issues like COVID-19 vaccines and “woke ideology,” among other topics, according to the memo.

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin would be mandated to review discharges of troops who refused to take the COVID vaccine, under the new NDAA, a House GOP memo states. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“The FY24 NDAA pushes back against the radical woke ideology being forced on our servicemen and women and restores the focus of our military on lethality,” the memo told members.

It encouraged lawmakers to emphasize the fact that the NDAA would stop funding from being used to teach Critical Race Theory in the military, as well as in service academies and Pentagon-run schools, and it would similarly prevent any funds from being used to hold drag shows or drag story hours.

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This year’s NDAA would also freeze hiring for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) roles at the Pentagon until a watchdog investigation into the Department of Defense’s DEI practices is completed.

Rep. Mike Rogers

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee

The memo also encourages Republicans to point out that the NDAA would not include any of the Biden administration’s climate policy goals. 

On the COVID-19 vaccine, the NDAA would force the Pentagon to review its discharge policies for troops forced out for not taking the shot.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin would have to ensure that service members who have been discharged for refusing it are fully aware of how to return to active duty, if they so choose, according to the memo.

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Troops discharged for not taking the vaccine would also be entitled to full retirement benefits, the memo said.

“The FY24 NDAA protects current servicemembers and provides a path back to service for the 8,000 servicemembers discharged for failing to take the COVID-19 vaccine,” the memo said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., ushered the bipartisan NDAA through its first legislative hurdle on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

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For national security hawks, other proposed talking points highlight measures in the NDAA to help Israel in its war against Hamas, and to deter the Chinese Communist Party’s influence at home and abroad. 

The NDAA was advanced by the Senate in an 82-to-15 vote on Thursday afternoon, teeing up a formal vote next week. The House is expected to act on it afterward.

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