CNN Bashes GOP for Cutting Trans Surgeries from Military Spending Bill

July 14th, 2023 9:23 PM


CNN This Morning bashed Republicans for a military spending bill that excluded payments for abortion, diversity promotion, and transgender care to military personnel on Friday. Its reporters exaggerated the past bipartisanism of the bill, claimed Republicans were throwing a fit and using the military as a political pawn, and seemingly compared the cut benefits to rolling back racial integration.

Anchor Phil Mattingly introduced the bill as “the cornerstone of U.S. defense policy” and “a pillar of bipartisan agreement,” and CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox referred to more than 60 years of bipartisan support this bill previously received.



“And for a long time, Republicans and Democrats put aside their partisan bickering on these topics because they knew that this was essential, and you never wanted to take a vote against the military, right?” Fox said. “Because everybody understood at the end of the day they were standing up for something bigger than politics.”

Contrary to their proclamation on the bipartisan history off the bill, House Democrats passed the spending bill without a single Republican vote when they had the majority in 2019. 

Still, Mattingly pressed on under the assumption the bill had a bipartisan history. “You don't mess around with defense, you don’t bring this type of stuff and create these types of issues on defense policy. Why is it changing?” He asked.

“There's a very small number of House Republicans pushing to have these fights. We're talking 20 Republicans probably at this point.” Fox asserted. “And I think what's changing is the fact that you have a group of people who have been told no, no, and then yes multiple times and they've learned that if they throw a fit, they get their way.”

CNN anchor and chief legal analyst Laura Coates was equally dismayed to see policy used to enact change. “You know, it’s very stunning to think about the idea of our military being used as a military or a political pawn and knowing the preparedness that's required to have this,” Coates stated, shocked Congress might not pay for the controversial procedures that many considered immoral.

When Mattingly mentioned that Republican’s actions were legal, CNN’s Audie Cornish quickly interrupted him, saying, “just because it's legal doesn't make it right, to be clear.” She then compared the bill to the military’s racial integration in the 40s:

And it does make me think back to the conversations in the '40s about the integration of the military, the racial integration of the military and how that was going to harm readiness according to the people who were opposed. So, there's always this way that the U.S. government and particularly lawmakers can kind of make hay of any conversation around defense.

Once again, CNN disparaged Republicans. This time painting them as malicious, anti-military “hardliners” for refusing to pay for transition surgeries, hormone treatments, and abortions for military personnel. CNN did not mention the negative mental health affects accompanying each of the aforementioned procedures or money Republicans saved tax payers.

Instead of objectively laying the facts before viewers, CNN censored the conservative point of view and sought to villainize Republicans with a distorted presentation of the news.

Subaru sponsored CNN's anti-Republican coverage. 

The Transcript is below, click "expand" to read.

CNN This Morning


6:02 AM Eastern

PHIL MATTINGLY: Last night, late into the night, on Capitol Hill, House Republicans scrambling to try to get the votes together on a bill that serves as the cornerstone of U.S. defense policy. For decades, it's been a pillar of bipartisan agreement. Now, it's firmly at the center of America's culture wars. The Annual Defense Authorization Bill has become the latest battleground after Republicans narrowly passed a series of amendments late last night, including one that would eliminate all Pentagon diversity and inclusion programs. 

Hardliners also made changes to the bill that include restricting abortion access in the military and ending health coverage for transition surgeries and hormone treatments for transgender troops. The controversial measures led to a long night of heated debate on the debate floor. 


MATTINGLY: This morning, House lawmakers are set to return just a few hours from now to consider more amendments as those GOP leaders continue to try to get the bill across the finish line. I want to start with CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox, and Lauren, look, I feel like we've spent the last six years texting and emailing back and forth in moments like this really trying to break down the policy of the amendments themselves. There's 1,500 of them. I have no doubt you've probably read all of them and understand them, but I don't think it's about the individual amendments here. Tell people based on your reporting and what you’ve seen, kind of the bigger picture of what this bill is, and what last night represents. 

LAUREN FOX: Yeah, I mean, this is a bill that has passed for more than 60 years with bipartisan support because, at its core, it is about making sure the military, men and women in service, have everything they need to be successful on the battlefield to defend this country. And for a long time, Republicans and Democrats put aside their partisan bickering on these topics because they knew that this was essential, and you never wanted to take a vote against the military, right? So, you sort of just nodded and kept your head down, did the work, and made sure that all these controversial amendments and issues didn't become part of the debate because everybody understood at the end of the day they were standing up for something bigger than politics. 

That has all changed this week, and we should note that this bill passed out of committee with bipartisan support. This was a bipartisan bill, and over the course of the last week, over the course of the last 24 hours, that has changed because McCarthy had a calculation to make. He needed his right flank to be on his side for a myriad of reasons. 

MATTINGLY: Right, and it’s – it’s Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s calculation he’s had to make throughout the time—the kind of period of his speakership up unto this point, what is – what strikes me about this, the policy issues, the issues themselves are not new. Culture war has been very clearly moved center stage for a certain segment of the Republican Party now for a couple of years, more so with House Republicans since they have been in the majority. 

But, when you connect this to what Tommy Tuberville is doing on abortion, holding up hundreds of promotions just for normal flag officers, regular flag officers, on account of an executive branch Pentagon policy decision, I guess my question is defense policy was always kind of third rail to some degree. It’s entitlement programs and defense. You don't mess around with defense, you don’t bring this type of stuff and create these types of issues on defense policy. Why is it changing? 

FOX:  I think that it's changing for a couple of reasons. There's a very small number of House Republicans pushing to have these fights. We're talking 20 Republicans probably at this point. It is not the majority of the Republican Conference, and if you talk to people privately, they will tell you, this is not the kind of thing that they want to be taking votes on, on the House floor and this is certainly not the kind of issue that they want to alienate their Democratic colleagues on.

And I think what's changing is the fact that you have a group of people who have been told no, no, and then yes multiple times and they've learned that if they throw a fit, they get their way. And we're going to see this play out over the entire course of the spending fight that is coming up this fall. 

MATTINGLY: Such a good point. Stay with us. We've got a lot more to talk about here. 

AMANDA BROWN: It really is just a preview, right? So let's bring in CNN anchor and chief legal analyst Laura Coates and CNN anchor Audie Cornish. So Laura, to kick it off with you. What do you make of Republicans’ push here to attach these amendments? 

LAURA COATES: You know, it’s very stunning to think about the idea of our military being used as a military or a political pawn and knowing the preparedness that's required to have this – the sentiment, the morale that must be impacted knowing that when you hear from Secretary Lloyd Austin and the ranks of the military suggest that diversity actually helps to prepare the military. It actually is beneficial. The notion that culture wars would infuse this conversation is really telling, but also it's a notion of how powerful these issues really have become across the country.

There would not be this sort of buy-in from the political officials and members of Congress to try to do this for the reason you’re talking about, the third rail. This would not have been politically palatable for many years ago. It is now front and center into the wee small hours of the morning, trying to get this done, and it’s successful. And so, I wonder what impact it will have on the party more broadly as you’re talking about what their platform will be, in attached to the military. 

BROWN: And let's talk about what the Democrats are arguing, Audie, that particularly with one of the most controversial amendments, stripping the DOD policy from reimbursing members of the military from getting abortions, who may have to go out of state because of Dobbs. You know, Democrats argue this is really going to hurt, this is going to hurt service members, this is going to hurt recruitment. Fewer women are going to want to join the military. What do you think about that argument? 

AUDIE CORNISH: I think that there's a broader conversation going on in which the military is a proxy, which is you hear a lot on the right about the woke military. You know, the assistant secretary for defense readiness is the highest ranking trans official, kind of, in the Pentagon. 

We know that they have been very upset in general about diversity initiatives. So I think it's part of this, like, broader push to exert control in an area where they have control which is the power of the purse and spending. They can't complain to businesses about what they're doing when it comes to diversity. They can't stop businesses from maybe in the future carrying the over-the-counter prescription birth control pill, but they can do is tell the military what to do through its spending. 

MATTINGLY: I think that's a good point, and Lauran, I want to ask you about this because Audie makes, I think, a critical, critical point here. They're not doing anything wrong. They're not doing anything out of the realm of what's in their authority right now. Nor is Tommy Tuberville. This is always power that a senator has had, that members of the House have had. It’s less kind of the, the legality of it – there’s no issues about that -- and more the strategic decision to move to this place and the why to some degree. And I have a question about that for second – 

CORNISH: But Phil, for a second –

MATTINGLY: Yeah, please.

CORNISH: -- just because it's legal doesn't make it right, to be clear.

MATTINGLY: No, no, no, no, I’m not -- that’s not my point.

CORNISH: And it does make me think back to the conversations in the '40s about the integration of the military, the racial integration of the military and how that was going to harm readiness according to the people who were opposed. So, there's always this way that the U.S. government and particularly lawmakers can kind of make hay of any conversation around defense. 

MATTINGLY: But I think what's interesting about that, and I completely agree with the point that you are making, is that Lauren's point is so critical here, and I think underappreciated in a sense that this isn't representative of the vast majority of House Republicans when you talk to them privately. And yet, they won’t talk about it publicly, that they have objections to the fact that this has become a front and center issue, that this has become a defining issue on the defense policy bill that's passed on a bipartisan basis for 60 years because of the 20 members and the power that they have and the platform that they have within this conference at this point. Is that a fair statement? 

CORNISH: But remember, Matt Gaetz got up and said that he was one of the people, the clips you played, right? He also pushed an amendment to strip Ukraine of security assistance. 


CORNISH: Seventy Republicans went on the record to vote for that.

COATES: But the frustration of course is – the I mean, and I know from, like, I'm not in the military, I’m not a member of Congress, surprise, surprise. However, this idea that there's a personal viewpoint and then a political front that is portrayed to people is a tension we keep seeing time and time again. Whether it's about an elected official and your alliance to that person or what you believe privately, there's a frustration among the electorate. 

We talk about the institutions and our government being, having less credibility, being viewed more skeptically. One of the reasons for that is because I can't believe what you say because I see what you do, right? This notion that there is going to be all this attention, but again, it's the power of the few who were able to be the most vocal, like, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? And that, that is an example of this, and so if it's not something that everyone buys into, I mean, Lauren, the notion that it's able to pass nonetheless is stunning. 

FOX: Yeah, and we should note that, you know, this is going to be a really tough vote for some Democrats, Phil—


FOX: -- there's probably going to be a handful of Democrats that still support this even though they are appalled by some of the amendments that were added. In part –

MATTINGLY: It's the paradox because it's a defense bill that they don't want to vote against.

FOX: Exactly, how do you say your constituents -- I was talking to Gerry Connolly about this last night. He said, look I have 25 percent of my economy that is based on the military infrastructure in this country in my district. And I'm having a hard time squaring how am I actually going to vote against this bill, despite the fact I am appalled by a lot of the amendments that were added to it. It shows you the tension that some Democrats are feeling about how to deal with this. 

BROWN: And it includes that 5 percent pay raises for military members. 

FOX: Yes. 

BROWN: Some have to be on food stamps. They can't afford rent. I mean, this is really critical.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, no question about it. Would note we got to go, but the Senate’s going to have a say here—

FOX: They are.

MATTINGLY: -- and likely the final say which is I think a critical piece of this.