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U.S. House Republicans push through defense bill limiting abortion access, halting diversity efforts

The House passed a sweeping  defense bill Friday that provides an expected 5.2% pay raise for service members but strays from traditional military policy with Republicans add-ons blocking abortion coverage, diversity initiatives at the Pentagon and transgender care that deeply divided the chamber.

Democrats voted against the package, which had sailed out of the House Armed Services Committee on an almost unanimous vote weeks ago before being loaded with the GOP priorities during a heated late-night floor debate this week.

The final vote was 219-210, with four Democrats siding with the GOP and four Republicans opposed. The bill, as written, is expected to go nowhere in the Democratic-majority Senate.

Before it passed, the bill was amended with a flurry of GOP priorities, including measures to strip funding for diversity initiatives in the Pentagon and block abortion coverage for military personnel

Arizona Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton says the bill’s language would harm a large portion of the fighting force. 

"Today, nearly half of service women no longer have access to abortion care. Many live hundreds of miles from the nearest provider. Access to abortion should not depend on where someone lives or where they are stationed," Stanton said. 

Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko praised the bill, saying it adds protections against taxpayers covering abortions.

Arizona Republican Eli Crane uses 'colored people' slur during U.S. House debate

Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.