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The White House has warned that President Biden will veto a GOP-backed annual defense spending bill over cuts to various programs and policies.

The bill allocates $833 billion to the Defense Department for fiscal 2025, including a 4.5% pay raise for troops and investments in national security. However, it also includes provisions that the White House argues would hinder US military personnel’s access to reproductive health care, compromise the safety of LGBTQ+ troops, and undermine military readiness.

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The nitty gritty:

A key point of contention is the bill’s proposed cuts to programs supporting reproductive health care, diversity, and inclusion. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget criticized the bill, saying, “The Administration strongly opposes section 8150 of the bill, which would prohibit the Department from spending funds to support access to non-covered reproductive healthcare. Access to reproductive healthcare is critical to all Americans, including Service members and their families, and the Department’s ability to recruit, retain, and maintain the readiness of a highly qualified force, of which nearly 20 percent are women.” They added that they also oppose “any provision that would inhibit DOD’s ability to treat all persons equally under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

The administration also objected to other amendments, such as a proposal to reduce Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s salary to $1, cuts to executive aircraft travel, the end of funds for the Gaza pier, and elimination of funding for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. The White House added, “House Republicans are again wasting time with partisan bills.”

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House Republicans argue that these spending cuts are necessary to refocus the Pentagon on its core war-fighting mission and to prepare for competition with global adversaries like China. However, the White House argues that the proposed cuts would harm military readiness and the ability to recruit a diverse force. The White House has also raised concerns about the financial feasibility of an additional 15% pay raise for junior enlisted service members, which would cost over $3.3 billion and is not fully funded in the bill.


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