Recently, the House Armed Services Committee announced that it would include a proposal designed to protect freedom of speech and other First Amendment protections for U.S. service members in its upcoming annual defense spending bill.
The panel is presently contemplating the National Defense Authorization Act. This act includes an amendment that would prohibit discipline taken against any U.S. service member “solely based on comment, post, or other activity originating from a third party regarding a political matter,” whether that post takes place with an online account, on an online forum, or other electronic means.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) introduced this amendment, alongside several others, as the Committee contemplated making changes to the bill. This bill will detail funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) in the coming fiscal year.
The pro-free speech proposal has emerged in the wake of the Republicans’ concerns regarding excessive “wokeness” in the military, and it has also drawn support from some Democrats who are in favor of ensuring First Amendment protections for U.S. service members.
In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Lamborn also added that the Biden administration has generally attempted to label any conservative viewpoints as “extremist.”
My #NDAA amendment, which protects the First Amendment Rights of our military service members on social media, just passed. We cannot let the DoD punish our men and women in uniform for their conservative views by labeling them extremist. This is a big win!
— Rep. Doug Lamborn (@RepDLamborn) September 1, 2021
Consequently, Lamborn asserts that his amendments associated with the National Defense Authorization Act continue to offer First Amendment protections to all U.S. service members across all social media platforms, which will also “prevent mainstream conservative viewpoints from being labeled as extremist.”
“Moving forward, the [Department of Defense] should not be allowed to punish men or women for their constitutionally protected views,” Lamborn proclaimed.
On Wednesday, one of the most interesting amendments that was passed includes an increase in the budget; various House Republicans, alongside some Democrat defectors, opted to increase the total budget by $24B above the original amount requested by the Biden administration.
This new change will increase the total spending for the 2022 fiscal year by approximately $778B, which aligns with the spending amounts that had been approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The recent, catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan darkened the recent NDAA amendments and markup, with the Republicans filing over 50 amendments pertaining to the withdrawal before Wednesday’s hearing.