President Joe Biden came into office trumpeting his embrace of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives across the federal government, including the U.S. military. After promising on Inauguration Day "an ambitious, whole-of-government equity agenda," Biden issued an executive order that required, among other things, a chief diversity officer in every government agency.
If there is one takeaway from the ongoing congressional negotiations over the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes funding for the Department of Defense, it is that moderate Democrats up for reelection next year recognize this agenda won’t fly when it comes to the U.S. military.
The House, controlled by Republicans, stripped DEI programs and staff from the Pentagon. More interesting, though, is the Senate version of the bill. That body is controlled by Democrats, and the bill that came out of the Senate Armed Services Committee had to have the support of at least one Democrat—possibly more.
The Senate bill nonetheless imposes a hiring freeze on all DEI employees, prohibits the Defense Department from filling any DEI vacancies, and caps pay for any DEI employee at $70,000.
The House and Senate will ultimately have to hammer out a compromise bill and, when that happens, the Biden administration’s DEI regime, as it applies to our national security establishment, will be on life support.
Even one DEI employee in the military is too many for an institution that must be singularly, ruthlessly focused on maintaining the most lethal force possible, but this is at least progress toward that goal.
These provisions are a step in the right direction for the Pentagon, the military, and the country. Next up: ending racial preferences at the country’s military academies.