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Biden Administration Under Fire After Pentagon Requests $114 Million for Diversity, Equity

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Q. Brown. Official portrait
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Q. Brown. Official portrait

By: Casey Harper | The Center Square

The Biden administration is under fire after the Department of Defense requested $114 million for diversity and equity initiatives, an increasingly controversial topic that critics say is politicizing the armed forces.

The DOD fiscal year 2024 budget request shows the federal agency’s emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion, including “ensuring accountable leadership with continued emphasis and investments in sexual assault and harassment prevention, suicide prevention, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA), and Insider Threat Programs.”

The DOD document shows that DEI is at the forefront of DOD policy.

“The Department will lead with our values – building diversity, equity, and inclusion into everything we do,” the report said.

From the report:

Leaders at all levels are responsible for fostering a climate of inclusion that supports diversity, is free from problematic behaviors, and does not tolerate retaliation or reprisal against those filing complaints. Ultimately, recruiting and retaining a force with diverse backgrounds, thought, experience, expertise, and education enhances DoD’s global joint warfighter capabilities fundamental to all DoD activities. The DoD has taken a number of actions to strengthen its antidiscrimination posture and advance diversity and inclusion throughout the Department. Notably, DoD expanded endeavors historically known as diversity, equity, and inclusion to include a distinct focus on accessibility to highlight the importance of an accessible workplace and further ensure equal opportunity for all. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA).

That report took fire from House Republicans.

“Last week, the Pentagon failed its 6th consecutive audit,” the Republican-led House Oversight Committee wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This week, they requested $114 million for DEI. The Biden Admin’s focus on progressivism over warfighting continues to exacerbate the military recruiting crisis and calls into question our level of military preparedness.”

The controversy over DEI funding in the DOD is not new. Republicans have been highly critical of the Pentagon’s focus on equity, pointing out that reporting shows the U.S. is struggling to keep up ammunition stores and track how money is being spent.

“The Pentagon is asking for $114 million to spend on DEI programs next year,” Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., wrote on X. “This is just days after they failed an audit for $1.6 trillion. If you’re waiting for the punchline, it’s not coming. This isn’t a joke.”

Rep. Dan Bishop, R-Texas, called on Congress to take a closer look at how they are authorizing the DOD to spend its funds.

“Fresh off the heels of failing its sixth consecutive audit, the Pentagon wants $144m for DEI nonsense?” said Bishop, R-N.C. “We need our military laser-focused on defending the nation, not on woke training seminars. Congress can't continue to rubber-stamp this superfluous spending.”

A repeated critique of the Pentagon plan is that it distracts from the military’s mission.

“Americans are currently being held hostage – and global conflict surrounds us – yet the Pentagon has the gall to ask for $114 million for DEI,” said Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo.

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