For the first time in years, House staffers didn't need the blow-up mattresses they probably stashed in their offices for last night's debate. The Armed Services Committee wrapped up one minute shy of midnight — setting a new record in what is traditionally one of the longest days in Congress. That's not to say that yesterday's mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was an easy one. Members put in a grueling 14-hour day — marked at times by intense back-and-forth on how to best clean up the military mess left behind by Barack Obama. At 11:59 p.m., members were rewarded for their hard work with a near-unanimous vote (60-1) that sent them to bed hours before dawn.
Of course, one of the most-watched pieces of the NDAA had nothing to do with Apache helicopters or troop pay. But, as three of the service chiefs will tell you, it's just as important to the military's success: rolling back Obama's radical social policy. With just two days to go until the DOD's transgender policy takes effect, Republicans demanded the Pentagon act. And fast. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), who talked about the bill on Thursday's "Washington Watch," reminded everyone that "Military service is a privilege, not a right. It is predicated on the singular goal of winning the war and defeating the enemy. All decisions on personnel and funding should be made with this in mind."
Other conservatives were just as insistent, including Marine Corps vet Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who knows firsthand what kind of chaos this decision would spell.
"This [policy] doesn't make [troops] more effective or efficient or deadly," he argued. "What it does is distract everybody."
After tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hunter could only shake his head at the practical implications of this social engineering.
"I couldn't imagine having to share showers with somebody that was a girl and didn't have a surgery to become a man but kept the girl stuff and now she's with a bunch of guys."
I'm sure every father in America shares his concern, since their daughters have already been warned in the Army's sensitivity training to expect biological men shampooing next to them. But that's just part of a dysfunctional puzzle that includes barracks changes, "male pregnancy," and off-duty drag.
Even more disturbing, not one bit of this change has been systematically studied by the military. That's why the Army, Marines, and Air Force have been so adamant about postponing the policy.
"[This] is an important issue with regard to the state of the current force and restoring the warrior ethos," Hunter explained, "as well as conveying expectations to taxpayers."
And according to our research, those "expectations" are enough to shock anyone. After downplaying the expense of this change for months, FRC did a little number crunching of our own. What we found will appall you. In a new paper, Peter Sprigg estimates (based on the Left's own assumptions!) that opening the doors to people who identify as transgender will cost a whopping $3.7 billion over the next 10 years for medical costs and lost deployment time. That's a far cry from the $84 million the RAND Corporation low-balled last year!
As Peter points out, those estimates "were drawn from actuarial data based on the estimated increase in insurance premiums for private employers who adopted coverage for gender transition. Since the military pays for the health care of active duty service members directly, it is more logical to look at the direct costs of such procedures. In addition, the Rand study made estimates of lost time due to recovery from gender reassignment surgery, but placed no dollar value on this indirect, but very real cost to the armed forces."
With the price tag of $89,050 for female-to-male procedures and $110,450 for male-to-female procedures, taxpayers would be forking over hundreds of millions of dollars a year for people who are just using the military as their free ticket to elective surgery! And that's just the surgery — not the cost of hormone treatment and counseling, which can run in the thousands per person.
To put it in perspective, over the next ten years America would be spending roughly half of our annual ballistic defense budget on elective sexual reassignment surgery! While our troops are literally scavenging museums for jet parts, which would you rather pay for: hundreds of gender transitions or 22 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Planes? Obama's extreme transgender agenda or 3,700 tomahawk missiles? Political correctness run amok or half of our annual cyber defense budget? I'm sure ISIS will sleep better at night knowing that we sacrificed 116 Chinook helicopters so that our troops could get radical makeovers.
At $3.7 billion, gender-free isn't free!
And unfortunately, this will no longer be a mistake we can hang around the neck of President Obama if General Mattis doesn't act. The Trump administration will be the sole owner of this catastrophe unless the Pentagon steps in and repeals the change.
"We don't need a 'mad dog' or a sleeping dog," Elaine Donnelly wrote, referring to the Defense secretary's nickname in a column on the dangers of the transgender integration. "We need a vigilant and fearless watch dog who will strengthen our military by restoring sound priorities that are long overdue."
Reps. Hartzler, Duncan, Steve Russell (R-Okla.), and others are still holding out hope that Mattis will listen to his branch chiefs. At last night's mark-up, they deferred to the administration until after the July 1 deadline.
The GOP will hold its fire, Hartzler warned, "with the understanding and plea to the secretary to take the steps needed to restore readiness and make sure we do not waste precious taxpayer dollars" on this agenda. "If that doesn't happen, we need to take action on [this bill] once it gets to the Senate floor."
In the end, the actual cost may be the least of our concerns. You can't put a price tag on national security — which is exactly what America would be sacrificing on this altar of political correctness.
For more on this debate, check out our own Lt. General Jerry Boykin's message for a fellow flag officer in Breitbart, "Secretary Mattis: Focus on War-fighting, Ditch the Social Engineering."
Originally posted at Tony Perkins' Washington Update, which is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.