When the House Appropriations Committee voted on June 22 to approve the fiscal year (FY) 2024 energy and defense bills, amendments on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives from Democratic lawmakers went nowhere – showing a clear partisan divide on the importance of those areas.
The two bills were approved by the committee on votes of 34 to 24.
The Defense bill – which funds agencies and programs under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense (DoD) and Intelligence Community – provides $826.4 billion for FY2024, which is $285 million over President Biden’s budget request, and $28.7 billion over the FY2023 level.
The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies bill provides $57.9 billion for FY2024, which is $1.96 billion below the President’s budget request. In the areas of related defense spending, the bill provides $32.5 billion, which is an increase of $1.1 billion above FY2023. The bill prioritizes funding for agencies and programs that bolster national security, energy security, and economic competitiveness.
However, during the markup session on June 22, committee Republicans rejected several amendments offered by Democratic members, including funding for DEI initiatives.
Increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the Federal workforce is a key priority for the Biden-Harris Administration. In June 2021, President Biden signed an executive order to advance DEIA initiatives in the Federal workforce citing that “the United States is at its strongest when our Nation’s public servants reflect the full diversity of the American people.”
According to the Republican lawmakers, further funding for DEI initiatives is “unnecessary and polarizing.”
The FY 2024 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Bill approved by the committee supports strong national security by:
- Providing $19.1 billion for the continued modernization of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and infrastructure;
- Providing $1.9 billion for Naval Reactors to support the operational nuclear fleet, Columbia-class submarine reactor development, and research and development for current and future generations of nuclear-powered warships; and
- Providing $2.3 billion for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation to reduce the danger of hostile nations or terrorist groups acquiring nuclear devices, radiological dispersal devices, weapons-usable material, and nuclear expertise.
The bill also prioritizes energy security and economic competitiveness by requiring funds to be used by the Department of Energy (DoE) in a manner consistent with the research security provisions of the CHIPS and Science Act.
Similarly, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2024 ensures servicemembers and their families have the support they need by funding a 5.2 percent pay raise for our servicemembers.
In addition, the FY 2024 Defense bill aims to innovate and modernize the military by:
- Including increased funding for the successful program to Accelerate the Procurement and Fielding of Innovative Technologies;
- Fully funding the Office of Strategic Capital to maximize the use of private capital for defense emerging technologies and manufacturing;
- Providing significant funding for the Defense Innovation Unit and the military services to accelerate acquisition processes; and
- Empowering combatant commanders to quickly obtain the cutting-edge technology and weapons they need and to rapidly get them to the warfighter.