The Defense Department policy of covering travel and leave for service members seeking abortions will remain intact under a compromise version of the annual must-pass defense policy bill released Wednesday night.
Existing health care for transgender troops and dependents was also left untouched by the negotiated National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, that members of the House and Senate unveiled after months of hearings and negotiations.
Both have been political hot-button issues that now appear unlikely to change due to the omissions in one of the year's most important defense bills. While issues Democrats considered red lines that would force them to vote against the bill were dropped from the compromise legislation, conservatives notched some modest wins on provisions to curtail diversity and inclusion initiatives.
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Negotiations over this year's NDAA turned into a culture-war minefield after the House loaded its version of the defense bill with a slew of proposals targeting what Republicans deride as “wokeness” in the military.
Most prominently, the version of the bill the House passed in July would have ended the Pentagon's post-Roe v. Wade policy of providing travel funds and leave for service members who need to travel out of state to obtain an abortion. It also would have banned the Pentagon from providing gender…