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GOP lines up culture war-heavy spending bills targeting military abortions, drag shows

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House Republicans are using three major government funding bills to pass conservative priorities on abortion, diversity and drug performance.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to consider a budget bill this week that will fund the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of State and foreign operations for fiscal year 2025.

It’s part of an ambitious timetable House Republican leaders have set for passing 12 separate budget bills before the August recess.

But in addition to funding the government through the fiscal year’s end on Sept. 30, Republicans are also looking at the spending race as an opportunity to pass at least some conservative social policies before the November election, where they risk losing their House majority.

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House Speaker Mike Johnson is scheduled to vote on three spending bills this week that focus on the culture wars. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

This includes former President Trump’s push for a border wall, with the Department of Homeland Security spending bill including $600 million for the wall as well as policy provisions that would force Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to build a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border as quickly as possible.

Both the DHS bill and the defense bill prohibit their respective funds from being used for abortion services.

According to the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee, the defense bill would prohibit “service members or their dependents from using paid leave, travel, or related expenses to obtain an abortion or abortion-related services.”

The former would prohibit federal funds from being used to provide abortions to alien detainees held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Similarly, the bill would prohibit funds from being used to provide transgender medical care for ICE detainees.

The defense bill also would prohibit funds from being used for programs like Drag Queen Story Hour and ban the hiring of drag queen performers as military recruiters, a bill the subcommittee said in its summary that such programs “discredit the military.”

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Immigration and Border Security

Republicans are also eyeing the spending race as an opportunity to pass at least some conservative social policies, including funding for former President Trump’s border wall, before the November election. (Fox News)

All three bills up for debate this week would block federal funding for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, a priority that House Republicans pushed for in the last spending battle, which resulted in the closure of the House Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Similarly, the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security bills impose restrictions on departments that institute critical race theory (CRT) programs.

Defense and Homeland Security spending is scheduled to increase slightly in fiscal 2025, but Republicans are seeking to cut spending at the State Department.

House Republicans are working to cap discretionary government spending at roughly $1.6 trillion. GOP leaders are guiding them with last year’s Fiscal Responsibility Act, a deal between then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Biden that would have raised the debt ceiling and limited federal spending.

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But unlike last year, when side deals between McCarthy and Biden inflated the final number, House Appropriations Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., and House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, have pledged to move forward with just the top-line figure.

Defense and Homeland Security spending is expected to increase by about $9 billion and $3 billion, respectively, starting in 2024, while State Department spending will be cut by 11% from last year.

President Joe Biden speaks at a podium in Philadelphia

President Biden has already threatened to veto the bill. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The three bills will be heard in the House Rules Committee on Tuesday, their final session before the bills head to a vote on the full House, but Democrats have already signaled their opposition to the House Republicans’ plans.

Biden warned in his administration’s policy statement Monday that he would veto all three spending bills.

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“Instead of honoring the agreement and having the opportunity to build on last year’s bill and engage in a productive bipartisan spending process, House Republicans are once again wasting time with a partisan bill that would result in steep cuts to law enforcement, education, housing, health care, consumer safety, energy programs that lower utility bills and fight climate change, and essential nutrition services,” the White House said.

“The draft bill also contains numerous partisan policy provisions that would have devastating consequences, including impeding access to reproductive health care, endangering the health and safety of (LGBTQI+) Americans, jeopardizing marriage equality, impeding critical climate action, and preventing the Administration from advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

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