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EXCLUSIVE: A plan proposed by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., to “de-wokeify” the U.S. military was halted by Senate Democrats this week.
Blackburn, through two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), was working to ensure military parents have control over their children’s education and that congressional funding for “woke” diversity, equity and inclusion Department of Defense (DOD) programs would have more restrictions.
During a classified hearing Wednesday, Senate Democrats on the Armed Services Committee voted down both measures.
“The U.S. military must focus on confronting the new “axis of evil” – Communist China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. These regimes do not care how woke our military is or what our soldiers’ pronouns are,” Blackburn told Fox News Digital.
“Pentagon leaders should be spending their time learning lessons about their disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, not promoting critical race theory and wokeism. When our brave men and women are fighting on the battlefield, their children must be protected from government-funded indoctrination. These proposals are not controversial. Democrats should be happy to support them and help refocus the energy and effort at the Defense Department where it belongs — on fighting our adversaries.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
The military has come under scrutiny recently from Republicans in Congress for enacting new diversity and inclusion initiatives, which they say takes away from the military’s core mission of protecting the country.
However, former Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby previously dismissed these claims by the GOP, saying the argument of “wokeness” in the military is “driving a stake through a straw man,” and diversity and inclusion actually make the military stronger.
The first amendment proposed by Blackburn, “Stop Experimenting With Military Children,” stated that parents, “not woke teachers,” should be at the center of their children’s education.
The senator cited examples of Department of Defense (DOD) teachers who have claimed it is “appropriate” to hide a child’s gender transition from his or her parents.
The amendment would require DOD to inform or notify parents of “any matter relating to their child’s mental, emotional or physical health or well-being.” In addition, it would ensure that legal adults are informed of the health care that their child, or minor dependents, may receive.
The second of the amendments, “Keeping Our Military Focused On Lethal Threats,” would keep the military focused on “creating the most lethal fighting force on planet Earth,” and nothing else.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley speaks with reporters after a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the Pentagon May 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
“Instead, Joe Biden’s military leaders are secretly attempting to turn our brave war fighters into social justice warriors,” language accompanying the text stated.
The amendment would have required the under secretary of defense to brief Congress on spending related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. It would also empower Congress to use its power of the purse to monitor DOD spending and keep the agency from using funding as a “blank check” for DEI spending.
The senator points to a letter from Defense Secretary Mark Milley to Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, from earlier this year stating that the military spent 5,889,082 man hours on climate change and DEI activities.
In addition, DOD’s budget confirmed that the Air Force spent $68 million on DEI initiatives in 2021.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., arrives for the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations in Dirksen Building Sept. 28, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Inhofe announced Thursday that the committee completed markup for the NDAA for fiscal year 2023. It is the 62nd year in a row the Senate has come together in a bipartisan fashion to ensure funding for the nation’s fighting force.
When announcing the committee’s markup schedule in May, Reed wrote in a statement, “Along with ranking member Inhofe and our colleagues on the committee, I am committed to upholding our tradition of robust deliberation and bipartisan collaboration to ensure we provide our military men and women with the resources, training, equipment and capabilities they need to achieve their missions and protect American families.”
Reed did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the markup.
Kelly Laco is a politics editor for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to Kelly.Laco@Fox.com and on Twitter: @kelly_laco.