Santos, D’Esposito join fellow House GOPers in voting for defense bill that restricts abortion access, bars transgender health services

Santos, D’Esposito join fellow House GOPers in voting for defense bill that restricts abortion access, bars transgender health services
United States House of Representatives chamber at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

Congressman George Santos (R-CD3) and Anthony D’Esposito (R-CD4) joined fellow House Republicans in voting to restrict abortion access, bar transgender health services and remove all diversity personnel in the military on Thursday,

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024, which included the amendments passed Thursday, was passed in its entirety along party lines Friday morning with votes amassing 219-210.

With the entirety of Long Island represented by Republican lawmakers in the House – all four of the Long Island Congressional districts – the Long Island vote was integral to passing the amendments to the act Thursday.

Santos and D’Esposito voted to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and the three amendments to restrict abortion access, transgender healthcare and remove diversity personnel.

Efforts to contact Santos and D’Esposito for comment were unavailing.

In a vote of 221-213, the House amended the National Defense Authorization Act to prohibit the Secretary of Defense from paying for or reimbursing abortion services expenses.

Ten New York representatives, all Republicans, including all Long Island representatives, voted to pass the amendment. All New York Republicans voted affirmatively on the amendment, excluding Rep. Brandon Williams (NY-22) who did not vote.

The vote was split along party lines, with nearly all Republicans voting “aye” and all but one Democrat voting “no.”

In a vote of 222-211, the House also voted to amend the National Defense Authorization Act to prohibit the Department of Defense from providing sex reassignment surgeries and gender hormone treatments to transgender people. It also prevents TRICARE – the Department of Defense’s healthcare program – from covering these medical services.

The same 10 New York Republican representatives also voted to pass this amendment.

This vote was also conducted along party lines, with all but one Republican voting for its passage and all but one Democratic voting against the amendment.

The House also removed all offices and personnel of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Armed Forces and Department of Defense, passing 214-213.

All Democrats voted against the amendment along with four Republicans. The same 10 Republican New York representatives voted to pass the amendment.

Discussions on the House floor veered into the debate on the culture war, with Republicans accusing Democrats of inserting progressivism into the Pentagon.

Democrats, in turn, accused Republicans of using the amendments to push an agenda of receding the rights of women, people of color and transgender individuals.

Arizona Republican Representative Eli Crane at one point referred to black people as “colored people,” when arguing for his amendment passed 214-210 Thursday that prohibited training or support for certain race-based concepts a requirement for hiring, promotion or retention of military individuals.

“The military was never intended to be, you know, inclusive,” Crane said. “My amendment has nothing to do with whether or not colored people or Black people or anybody can serve.”

The comment was stricken from the record after congressional members called the representative’s statement offensive. Crane later said in a statement that he “misspoke.”

The National Defense Authorization Act votes arise in tandem with a New York Appeals Court ordering the state’s congressional maps to be redrawn in a decision made Thursday. The state’s bipartisan redistricting commission has been asked to restart the district line-drawing process immediately.

Republicans say they will appeal.

The new map, drawn by a neutral court-appointed expert, flipped four seats in favor of Republicans.

The potential maps under the court-mandated redraw leave certain Republican seats vulnerable, most notably in Long Island’s Congressional Districts 3 and 4, held by Santos and D’Esposito, respectively.

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