The House Appropriations Committee’s (HAC) draft defense spending bill for fiscal year 2024, released on Wednesday, has received sharp pushback from top Democratic appropriators who cited its “harmful policy riders” and cuts to munitions and climate change programs.

HAC will meet behind closed doors on Thursday to mark up the $826.5 billion measure, with the topline number aligning with the agreement laid out in the debt ceiling bill passed earlier in June.

Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, center, and U.S. Minnesota State Representative Betty McCollum, left, meet with Robert Houck, Aegis ashore site program manager at Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Barking Sands, for a site tour. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Samantha Jetzer)

“The bill prioritizes funding to counter China, optimize DoD’s workforce, promote innovation, support servicemembers and their families, and increase DoD’s role in combating the flow of fentanyl, synthetic opioids, and other illegal drugs into the United States,” HAC Republicans wrote in a statement on Wednesday.

The FY ‘24 spending proposal would block four ships from early retirement, increase investments for the fifth and sixth-generation aircraft programs such as F-35 and Next-Generation Air Dominance, fully funds nuclear modernization efforts and includes $9 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative.

Republican lawmakers also included proposals to prevent funding for DoD initiatives related to climate change, block Diversity, Equity and Inclusion-related programs and prohibit the use of funds to assist those seeking abortion-related services.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), House Democrats’ top defense appropriator, said in a statement she was “deeply disturbed” that the bill “caters to extremist views.”

“Instead of investing in our national security and the issues that matter most to our men and women in uniform, the bill includes irrelevant, harmful policy riders that divide our nation,” McCollum said. “For a force that is 20 percent women, to include a provision that would restrict service members and dependents from seeking basic reproductive health care services will have disastrous recruitment and retention consequences…Fundamentally, these outrageous policy riders are unnecessary for our national security and will undermine the readiness of our military.

McCollum also added the bill falls short of fully funding the president’s request for munitions, which she said is “required to counter Chinese Communist Party threats.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the HAC ranking member, called the bill a “non-starter.”

“I urge my colleagues to focus on the end goal of funding our government rather than pushing messaging bills that have no future,” DeLauro said in a statement.