Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida

Rep. Matt Gaetz Of Florida Slams New Defense Spending Bill, Says It Guts Key Conservative Reforms

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida said on Monday that House Democrats can have Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy, if they want him.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (File)

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida said on Friday that he could not sign off on the newly passed Pentagon spending bill after Republican lawmakers agreed with Democrats to strip the measure of important culture-war provisions that are rallying conservative voters.   

The Fort Walton Beach Republican, in an email to constituents, noted that he was appointed to a committee to reconcile the differences in the $886 billion National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, that existed in the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Gaetz added that he literally refused to sign the report clarifying the compromises because the final NDAA “dropped many of the conservative reforms to end ‘woke’ ideology within the Department of Defense that the House-passed bill included.”

Read: Rep. Matt Gaetz Of Florida Cheers McCarthy Departure: “Establishment Exodus” Underway

The congressman noted that GOP lawmakers agreed to gut language that would prohibit the Defense Department from paying travel expenses for personnel seeking abortions, block taxpayer-funded gender-transition surgeries, eliminate the post of Chief Diversity Officer at the Pentagon, and end drag shows or drag-queen story hours on military bases.

The outcome was so bad for conservatives that even the left-wing Washington Post gloated in an article on Friday, “If it passes, as appears likely, the outcome will symbolize a defeat for the GOP’s raucous right flank.”

Another critic of the Republican negotiating team was Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Besides the issues raised by Gaetz, Greene noted on X (formerly Twitter) that Republican reps also agreed with Senate Democrats:

  • To allow the Defense Department to use President Joe Biden’s climate-change agenda as part of its policymaking tools.
  • To weaken provisions that would have helped former troops who were discharged for refusing Biden’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination and that would have created a special inspector general to oversee Ukraine war funding.
  • To continue race-based admissions to U.S. military academies.

The one victory for conservatives in the bill, according to Greene, was a prohibition on Critical Race Theory in training or policy. 

Read: Georgia Rep. MTG, Kentucky Rep. Massie Slams Biden Pitch For Ukraine Funding

Greene, according to the Post, denounced the final version as a “total sell-out of conservative principles.”

On X, she added that she, like Gaetz, was appointed to argue for the House version of the final product but was excluded from the last round of talks, which took place behind closed doors and ended with such “horrible results.”

In addition, and “egregiously,” Gaetz said, the final NDAA extends controversial Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, through April 19, 2024.

That somehow was tacked onto the new bill, even though it was not included in either of the original versions adopted by the House or the Senate. That seemed to happen after FBI Director Christopher Wray requested the extension during congressional hearings earlier this week.

Gaetz noted House Republicans pushed for reform of the law, which is intended to allow for surveillance of foreign nationals, because the FBI has used it as an unconstitutional “end-around” to spy on Americans without a warrant.

Most infamously, FBI officials abused Section 702 and duped the FISA court judges to obtain permission to spy on members of former President Donald Trump’s campaign in promoting the Russia collusion hoax.

“It is simply unacceptable to include an extension of this widely abused authority in the NDAA, especially when the House Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member, overwhelmingly passed on Wednesday a bipartisan bill that would reform FISA section 702 to require the FBI to get a warrant to spy on Americans,” Gaetz said in his email.

Already, some of the party’s most outspoken figures — including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a firebrand who advocated some of the most divisive proposals — have denounced the final product as a “total sell-out of conservative principles.”

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