On Friday morning’s CNN News Central, anchor Kate Bolduan hosted National Security Council spokesman John Kirby to discuss the situation in Ukraine, as well as the recently Republican-amended National Defense Authorization Act. The latter of these two subjects was apparently so important to CNN that Bolduan brought it up first, and spent a good portion of their time on the subject pushing Kirby to confirm what President Biden would do if he was faced with this bill to either veto or sign into law.
Bolduan began by asking Kirby for “the message from the commander-in-chief” after the attempts to pass these conservative amendments to the bill. He spoke briefly about the defense funding aspect of the bill before rushing to reassure Bolduan that the President “absolutely believes that diversity and inclusion and equity in the United States military’s important.” He was also sure to announce the President’s continued support for the military members affected by this bill to “be able to get the reproductive care that they need.”
She pointed out that these specific issues were associated with two of the amendments that had been made on the NDAA, and asked Kirby if the President would “want Democrats to vote against the NDAA” because of these amendments.
Kirby cautiously stepped around answering this question directly, not wanting to “get ahead of the legislative process” of the vote. He tried to continue making assurances about the President’s loyalties in the Democratic Party.
Bolduan, however, was not satisfied with this lack of an answer, and irately interrupted Kirby to ask her question again, this time questioning if the President would veto the bill “if the bill as we saw with the amendments coming out of the House overnight would be the version to come to his desk.”
Again, Kirby attempted to avoid a direct answer, since it was “a hypothetical,” and he was “not going to engage it at this point in the legislative process.” Once more, he tried to distract from this lack of a concrete answer with assurances that “the President wants the military well-funded” and “wants the troops taken care of.”
Now quite impatiently irritated by Kirby’s inability to answer to her liking, Bolduan interrupted once again by lashing out against the bill “that limits transgender rights, that rips out diversity training, and does exactly the opposite of what you said the President supports when it comes to access to reproductive rights.”
Kirby finally gave Bolduan the answer that she wanted:
Kate, it’s—it’s very difficult to see the President supporting legislation that would make it harder for Americans to serve in uniform and to not be able to do so with dignity, would not be able to do so with the proper care that they need, both medical and mental care. It's very difficult to see that the President would ever, ever sign legislation that would put our troops at greater risk or put our readiness at risk.
With this answer, Bolduan was satiated, and continued on with the interview without interruption. It seemed to be very important for Bolduan to hear Kirby admit that the President would not sign this bill, so much so that she spent nearly three times as long on this subject (4 minutes and 4 seconds) as she did discussing the Ukraine situation with him (1 minute and 23 seconds), clearly indicating her leanings in the matter.
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Transcript of the segment below (click Expand):
CNN News Central
9:22:04 AM ET
KATE BOLDUAN: I do wanna start—we’re gonna get—I wanna get to Ukraine in just a second, but it all is wrapped up, John, in an important thing that happened overnight.
Republicans passing—getting—passing several controversial amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, the NDAA. This massive defense bill’s fate now in question.
What is the message from the commander-in-chief, John, after what happened overnight in the House of Representatives?
JOHN KIRBY (National Security Council spokesman): Well, I mean, he obviously looks forward to—to one day having the NDAA on his desk so that he can sign a defense bill and get our troops and our military well-funded and well-resourced for the kinds of missions that they’re taking on—on all around the world.
And, you know, we’ll—we’ll wait and see what that legislation ends up looking like when he gets to his desk. So, I mean, we—obviously we’ve seen what some of the House Republicans have tried to do to it.
The President firmly believes that the National Defense Authorization Act really should be focused on making sure our troops have the training and the tools, the capabilities that they need to defend this country all around the world. And that's where he wants the focus to—to be.
He absolutely—not to—I’m not gonna get into debating each of these amendments, but I do wanna make this point. He absolutely believes that diversity and inclusion and equity in the United States military’s important. We are a diverse—diverse force because we represent and defend all of the United States, all Americans.
He absolutely believes that female service members and female family members of service—of service members should be able to get the reproductive care that they need, and if they’re stationed in a state where it's not available because of state law, then he fully supports the Pentagon's policy of providing leave and travel allowances for those folks to go get the reproductive care that they need.
One in five of our service members are women, and it's important that we listen to their needs and take care of them appropriately.
BOLDUAN: Well, right now, those provisions, those were passed. Those were the—some of—two—those were two of the—two or three of the amendments that were passed overnight and will be on the—on the final version of this bill the House is gonna need to vote on at some point. Do you—does the President want Democrats to vote against the NDAA as you see it today in the House?
KIRBY: Again, I’m not gonna speak for the voting—the—the voting inclinations here, and I won’t get ahead of—of the legislative process. The president believes firmly that we need—
BOLDUAN: I—I totally understand that, but the President would ultimately—obviously, he needs to sign this—this into law. If the—if the bill as we saw with the amendments coming out of the House overnight would be the version to come to his desk, would he veto it?
KIRBY: It's a hypothetical, Kate. I’m not going to engage it at this point in the legislative process. There's a long way to go before this legislation gets to his desk. What I can assure you is that—
BOLDUAN: But do you see, but, John…
KIRBY: —the President wants the military well-funded—
BOLDUAN: …do you see…
KIRBY: —and he wants the troops taken care of.
BOLDUAN: …do you see the President signing a National Defense Authorization Act that—that—that limits transgender rights, that rips out diversity training, and does exactly the opposite of what you said the President supports when it comes to repr—access to reproductive rights.
KIRBY: Kate, it’s—it’s very difficult to see the President supporting legislation that would make it harder for Americans to serve in uniform and to not be able to do so with dignity, would not be able to do so with the proper care that they need, both medical and mental care. It's very difficult to see that the President would ever, ever sign legislation that would put our troops at greater risk or put our readiness at risk.
BOLDUAN: Does this put the administration in a tough position though, if this is what is—is—you’re looking at, and Democrats are looking at in the House right now, of having to explain why Democrats would vote against pay raises for the military and future investments in military infrastructure, which is a big part of what the NDAA is.
KIRBY: The President is co—comfortable and confident that—the—that he’s not gonna sign legislation that’s not gonna affect our military readiness in a negative way, or affect our people. He’ll leave it to members of Congress to decide how they’re gonna vote on this for themselves, but obviously, he's not gonna support amendments, he’s not gonna support legislation that’s gonna put our readiness or our troops at any greater risk.