But this time around, many in Washington are beginning to wonder if a new set of acronyms is fatally imperiling our armed forces. Issues like DEI, CRT, and abortion may be sinking a bill that has never failed to pass in more than 60 years.
It’s setting up a dramatic clash between the House and Senate. On one side, a partisan bill loaded with controversial amendments. On the other, a bipartisan one without all the baggage.
Meanwhile in the background, a separate drama is still playing out: that of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) beef with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin over abortion policy.
The combination of these two events has been more than enough to make lawmakers, lobbyists, and service members alike begin to wonder: Is this the year that the NDAA fails?
Will this last sacred piece of bipartisanship in Congress succumb to the divisive forces that have sunk many before?
Joining the show to discuss the prognosis for this year’s NDAA and the perils of this standoff is a man who knows what it’s like to write one of these bills. Because he has. Many times before.
Arnold Punaro is a former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a retired two-star general. And if you’re a senator involved in national security issues, he’s probably also the guy you call for advice.
Playbook co-author and Deep Dive host Ryan Lizza spoke with him about what the big challenge facing the military is (spoiler, it’s not abortion policy); how — or if — Congress has perverted its oversight role of the Pentagon; whether the right’s objections to military “wokeness” are grounded in facts; and if an NDAA will pass this year at all.