House GOP falls short in effort to get Pentagon info on ‘woke’ policies

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A Republican-backed measure to pry loose Pentagon documents on “woke” policies in the U.S. military fell short Tuesday amid opposition from Democrats — but the vote underscored how the GOP will zero in on the issue once it takes control of the House in January.

The House Armed Service Committee considered a “resolution of inquiry” that would have compelled the Biden administration to provide Congress a trove of information related to Defense Department policies on gender identity, gender transition, gender-neutral pronouns, so-called safe spaces and other matters that Republicans say are hurting national security by sucking up time, energy and resources inside the military.

The resolution was reported unfavorably by a vote of 30 to 26, meaning it won’t move ahead as long as House Democrats control the chamber.

Leading Democrats slammed the measure, casting it as a politically motivated waste of time.

“I do believe this is the mother of all fishing expeditions and that’s all it is,” said Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Democrat and House Armed Services Committee chairman. “This has definitely become a political hobby horse for the far right to focus on our military and, frankly, to denigrate our military.”

But Republicans doubled down on their position that the Pentagon, under the leadership of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, has become too focused on gender identity, critical race theory, inclusive language, the use of preferred pronouns and a host of other policies at the expense of military training and readiness.

Tuesday’s vote offered more proof that the GOP intends to zero in on the issue in January, with numerous House Republicans saying they’ve heard firsthand accounts from service members who say the “woke” approach is dividing the armed forces and distracting from their mission.

“Our troops should not be the vanguard for the left’s social agenda,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, Alabama Republican who will be the committee chairman in the new Congress.

“Many of the orders issued by the current secretary of defense are damaging morale and unit cohesion. They are hurting recruiting and retention, and are damaging readiness,” Mr. Rogers said.

Military leaders have steadfastly denied that they’re focused on woke policies and argue their efforts are only meant to foster an atmosphere of inclusion and respect within the armed forces. Furthermore, military officials dispute Republicans’ claim that the issue is a source of division within the ranks.

“I don’t see it. I don’t hear it. They’re not talking about it. It’s not a factor for them at all,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said last week, according to the outlet Defense One. “I don’t see a conversation or an impact of woke-ism in the rank and file at all.”

Republicans disagree. GOP lawmakers in the House and the Senate have made the issue a priority, and the behind-the-scenes accounts they say they’ve received from service members will surely come to the forefront in the next Congress.

“I have family members that have gotten out of the military because of the wokeness. Now, you can’t disagree with that,” Rep. Jerry Carl, Alabama Republican, said just before Tuesday’s vote. “We need to address this. We need a fighting force that is a fighting force. We don’t need to focus on these issues that seem to be so important for the left. I don’t understand it.”

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