Language encouraging the Pentagon to screen for white nationalists among military enlistees has been quietly cut from an annual defense spending bill.
An amendment included in the National Defense Authorization Act recently passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives called for the secretary of defense to study the feasibility of “screening for white nationalists and individuals with ties to white nationalist organizations.”
Members of the Republican-controlled Senate subsequently passed their own draft of the NDAA, and the reconciled version ultimately approved by Congress no longer mentions white nationalists.
Instead, the reconciled version of the NDAA calls for the Pentagon to study the feasibility of screening for simply “extremist and gang-related activity.”
HuffPost first reported the new language Thursday.
Rep. Peter Aguilar, a California Democrat who proposed the House amendment, said it was “disappointing” to see his language stripped from the final defense bill, adding that white nationalists have “successfully enlisted in our military in order to gain access to combat training and weaponry,” the outlet reported.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to this growing problem which puts our national security and the safety of the brave men and women serving our country in jeopardy. It’s disappointing that Senate Republicans disagree,” he told HuffPost.
A spokesperson for the Senate Armed Service Committee dismissed concerns about the word change and said the language is now is broader than before.
“This is absurd,” the spokesperson told The Washington Times. “The language from the amendment, which was agreed to in a bipartisan vote by both House and Senate, was expanded beyond Rep. Aguilar’s amendment to include extremist organizations of all kinds: white nationalists, radical Muslims, gang members and others who aren’t suitable to join the military.”
Nearly one in four troops surveyed in 2017 by Military Times said they witnessed examples of white nationalism among fellow service members, according to the outlet.