Democrats push hot buttons on Pentagon
From global warming to drafting women, House lawmakers tackled a series of controversial subjects as they pulled together their Pentagon spending plan for the coming fiscal year.
The marathon markup session Wednesday by the House Armed Services Committee is the first opportunity Congress has to make their legislative mark on President Trump’s proposed budget hike for the Defense Department.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, Texas Republican and the panel chairman, is calling for early $37 billion additional funds above the $603 billion called for in the Trump proposal.
Debate over defense spending on Capitol Hill comes as conservative groups in Washington criticized Mr. Trump’s defense plan as not doing enough to ensure the military has what it needs to win the wars of tomorrow.
But Wednesday’s hearing was not strictly about dollars and cents. Democrats on the House defense panel used the markup to push amendments on several hot button issues.
One amendment, introduced by California Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier, would require all military-aged female citizens to register for a possible draft as men must do. The U.S. has not had a military draft since the Vietnam War.
Another Democratic amendment mandates an accountability review by U.S. special operations command and the head of the Pentagon’s special operations directorate amid reports of heavy drug abuse within the SEALs and other special operations teams. Recent reports claim illicit drug use — such as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, Ecstasy — have been on the rise among the SEAL teams.