FIRST ON FOX: House Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana blasted the Biden administration for paying “DEI bureaucrats” more than “enlisted troops on the frontline.”
On Monday, the Biden administration released its statement of administration policy for the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) where they came out in opposition to several of Banks’ amendments to the legislation.
One amendment the Biden administration is against slashes the salary cap for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) employees in the military while another requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to issue promotions based on merit, not immutable characteristics like race or sex.
“It tells you everything you need to know about the Biden administration that they believe DEI bureaucrats at the Pentagon should be paid more money than enlisted troops on the frontline,” Banks, who is running for Senate, told Fox News Digital.
According to the document, the Biden administration “strongly opposes the House’s sweeping attempts (sections 364, 523, 566, 595, 596, 598, 904, and 1046) to eliminate the Department’s longstanding DEIA efforts and related initiatives to promote a cohesive and inclusive force.”
“As articulated in the 2022 NDS, one of the Department’s top priorities is building a resilient Joint Force and defense enterprise. DoD’s strategic advantage in a complex global security environment is the diverse and dynamic talent pool from which we draw,” the Biden administration said.
“We rely on diverse perspectives, experiences, and skillsets to remain a global leader, deter war, and keep our nation secure. Moreover, DoD is committed to developing and maintaining a dignified, respectful, and safe workplace. Legislation that reduces DoD’s ability to create a positive work environment and fully leverage the best our nation has to offer puts the Department at a strategic disadvantage.”
Banks’ amendment slashing the DEI salary cap — section 364 — says the Defense secretary “may not appoint to, or otherwise employ in, any position with a duty described in subsection (b) a military or civilian employee with a rank or grade in excess of GS–10 not adjusted for locality.”
The duties described in the amendment include those involved with developing, “refining, and implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion policy,” as well as those who lead “working groups and councils to developing diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and objectives to measure performance and outcomes.”
Banks’ amendment also affects Defense Department employees involved in creating “and implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion education, training courses, and workshops for military and civilian personnel.”
Additionally, the amendment reassigns any DEI employees above a GS-10 grade 180 days after the NDAA goes into effect.
Banks’ amendment, section 523, which the Biden administration also opposes, would require the military to make merit-based decisions for promotions.
Additionally, the Biden administration opposed Banks’ amendments authorizing the reinstatement of service members discharged for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine — section 525 — and requiring the secretary of defense to determine whether Chinese government officials were aware of the transportation of fentanyl precursors to Mexican cartels, section 1316.
“The Administration is concerned that sections such as 1201, 1242, 1316, 1804, and 2808 do not include a requirement for Secretary of State concurrence and so would provide insufficient means for the Secretary of State to provide input to ensure foreign assistance or engagement is carried out in a manner consistent with foreign policy priorities,” the Biden administration wrote.
Banks’ amendments come as wokeness in the military continues to be a hot-button issue.
The U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in May offered personnel virtual professional development courses, including one “woke” class focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.
JSOC offered to civilian and military personnel a list of 17 free online courses, including a “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” conference in May and others on a litany of topics.
U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Public Affairs Officer Ken McGraw confirmed to Fox News that the courses were offered to military personnel, saying the DOD “regularly notifies its employees of a wide variety of non-mandatory, professional education opportunities.”
“These courses are not unique to U.S. Special Operations Command or any USSOCOM subordinate command,” McGraw continued. “In this instance, JSOC notified their civilian and military personnel that DOD was offering 17 free, professional-development courses online, one of which is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”