A group of firebrand House Republicans said Tuesday that they will oppose the annual defense policy bill because it fails to hold President Biden accountable for the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The lawmakers, who are members of the arch-conservative House Freedom Caucus, also said the bill would turn “our military into a progressive social experiment.”
Their opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the House Armed Services Committee passed earlier this month, endangers a key win for Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats on the committee who included a provision to boost military spending by $25 billion above Mr. Biden’s proposed budget.
The House Freedom Caucus, a group of more than 40 members, said the bill “sends Americans’ hard-earned dollars to an administration that refuses to take accountability for its failures during the withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
“President Biden and his administration must be held accountable for the devastating failures during the withdrawal of Afghanistan. The National Defense Authorization Act should focus on providing our service members the necessary resources to protect Americans and our country,” they wrote.
Freedom Caucus members included Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia.
Armed Services Committee members from both parties dotted the markup of the bill, which took place the week following the final withdrawal from Afghanistan, with measures imposing congressional oversight on security in the destabilized region going forward. But partisan division emerged over the scope of the inquiry, with Democrats stopping short of directly scrutinizing Mr. Biden’s decisions.
“House Freedom Caucus members urge their colleagues to join them in holding the Biden administration accountable and oppose sending taxpayer dollars to an administration that continues to allow Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and General Mark Milley to serve our country,” the lawmakers said.
They also took issue with other priorities outlined in the bill. Namely, the lawmakers object to a provision included in the committee version of the bill which would require women to register for the draft. The group also wants measures to be included in the bill which would defund critical race theory training for federal employees, which failed to pass in committee.
“Unfortunately, this administration’s political posturing puts priorities like funding critical race theory for our service members and forcing our daughters to sign up for the draft ahead of ensuring our military has the resources to put the safety and security of America first,” the lawmakers wrote.
Other Republicans said the caucus’s tactics were out of line.
Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said had urged the Freedom Caucus to vote for the bill.
“The things that they picked out, you just got to point out that we’re in the minority,” he said. “Everybody is going to get something that they don’t like in the bill and that doesn’t mean you vote against it just because there are two or three things you don’t like.”
Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, also urged her Republican colleagues in the House to get on board with the bill.
“I would just ask that they carefully consider it because the NDAA is always extremely bipartisan,” she said. “And extremely important that we are providing the authorities for our military through the NDAA.”
“We need the boost in spending,” she said. “I think that is incredibly important. It is also our job as Congress to provide oversight to the [Department of Defense]. So I would just encourage them to continue to exercise their authority in oversight, and let’s please just make sure that we get these authorities.”
• A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the announcement as a letter.