As the House GOP remains divided over efforts to fund the government through the next fiscal year, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling is challenging Republicans’ traditional assertion as the pro-military political party.
Five Republican lawmakers on Tuesday halted a vote on their party’s own bill, joining all Democrats in the House to sink legislation that would fund the Department of Defense (DoD). The appropriations bill was the first of several that the chamber needs to pass by the end of September to avoid a government shutdown.
Those who opposed the bill include some of the more conservative members of the House, such as North Carolina Representative Dan Bishop, who wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that he rejected the measure because Congress has not “moved twelve appropriations bills at the spending level agreed to in January.” Some moderate Republicans who are consistent supporters of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy condemned their GOP colleagues for striking down the bill.
“Between calling the military ‘woke,’ claiming Russian soldiers are tougher than ours, blocking 300+ flag officer promotions and not providing a DoD budget, it’s hard to hear those who say they ‘support the troops,'” Hertling wrote on X.
The former commander of the U.S. Army Europe has repeatedly criticized conservative GOP members who attack the armed forces over being impacted by “woke” Democratic policies. In February, Hertling said he was “disgusted” by the Republican-backed “Ukraine Fatigue” bill, which would formally call for an end to the U.S. providing military aid to Ukraine. More recently, the former general said that Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville was “despicable” for his ongoing protest of the DoD’s policies on abortion access, a stance that has prevented over 300 military promotions from being confirmed by the Senate.
The GOP remains divided on a number of issues, including support for Ukraine, with leaders like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump saying that assisting Kyiv in its fight against Russia is not of vital interest for the U.S.
Bickering within the party has manifested into a substantial hurdle for McCarthy, with some far-right members, such as Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, calling for the speaker to be ousted for not being conservative enough. McCarthy told CNN’s Manu Raju on Tuesday in light of the recent threats, “I’m not quitting.” Conservatives have also gone back and forth on which demands they want included in the resolution to avoid a government shutdown.
Newsweek reached out to McCarthy’s office on Tuesday night via email for comment.