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Merit-based military promotions opposed by Biden admin.

President Joe Biden pauses as he delivers remarks on Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Services in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on July 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
July 14, 2023

The Biden administration is objecting to a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that would remove racial considerations from military promotions and would allow the U.S. military to promote individuals based on whoever is the best candidate for a specific job.

According to The New York Post, the merit-based military promotion provision in the National Defense Authorization Act would require promotions to be determined “on the basis of merit in order to advance those individuals who exhibit the talent and abilities necessary to promote the national security of the United States.”

In the White House’s Statement of Administration Policy, the Office of Management and Budget presented a list of eight policy measures that President Joe Biden’s administration opposes, including the merit clause, which would effectively reverse the president’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility policies in the military.

The Office of Management and Budget stated, “The administration strongly opposes the House’s sweeping attempts to eliminate the [Defense Department’s] longstanding DEIA efforts and related initiatives to promote a cohesive and inclusive force,” adding, “DoD’s strategic advantage in a complex global security environment is the diverse and dynamic talent pool from which we draw.”

In addition to the merit-based military promotion clause, House Republicans proposed bans on funding for drag shows and critical race theory, preventing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin from “appointing or employing a military or civilian employee whose duties include diversity, equity, and inclusion” to a senior-level rank, and removing the Pentagon’s DEI chief position. The White House has opposed each of these provisions.

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Having written the merit-based promotion provision, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) told The New York Post that he “consider[s] the White House’s opposition to my amendments a badge of honor.”

Banks warned, “Wokeness is a cancer that will destroy our military from the inside out if we don’t stop it.”

With the merit-based promotion provision, House Republicans are proposing that candidates for military promotions should be “evaluated on the bases of qualifications, performance, integrity, fitness, training and conduct,” rather than “favoritism or nepotism,” as well as quotas based on race.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) stated, “What we’re trying to do is move to a colorblind, race-neutral worldview, where we’re focused on building a national defense and a military that is focused on, you know, blowing things up and killing people, not on social engineering wrapped in a uniform.”