The House GOP Effort to Defund – Not the Police, but Wokeness

Reposted to with permission from You can view the original article here.

by Ben Weingarte, RealClearInvestigations | Originally posted on April 17, 2023

Through executive orders and budget requests, the Biden administration has sought to embed “diversity, equity, and inclusion” principles across the entirety of the federal government – and in turn to touch the lives of every American. Now members of  the Republican House majority, who see this whole-of-government effort as a woke assault on America and its core values, are working to combat it using the power of the purse. 

In a series of letters to House appropriations leaders, Rep. Jim Banks and like-minded colleagues have identified and called for the defunding of all “‘woke’ programs and initiatives that are rooted in discrimination and promote far-left ideology in the federal government” in 2024 spending bills. 

The letters, obtained exclusively by RealClearInvestigations, are a product of Banks’ Anti-Woke Caucus, a 26-member group of House Republicans launched by the former chair of the Republican Study Committee earlier this year, and notably counting among its members Rep. Elise Stefanik, chair of the House Republican Conference, members of the House Freedom Caucus, and others. 

Banks and caucus members delivered the letters to the chairmen and ranking members of each of the 12 House Appropriations Committee subcommittees in late March following the release of President Biden’s $6.8 trillion 2024 budget request.

Each letter flags examples of “woke” offices or policies to which Congress allocated funding in relevant 2023 spending bills, and the associated dollars, and calls for those “and all programs that discriminate based on race, gender, and sexual orientation or seek to disparage our nation’s core ideals and history [to] be decreased to $0” in the 2024 versions of the bills.

A narrow reading of the line items characterized as woke in the letters – which represent only a partial accounting of such programs and initiatives – shows that such programs totaled over $900 million in 2023.

Some of the 2023 programs the Republican members seek to zero out in 2024 include:

  • The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act’s more than $200 million in spending on programs aimed at increasing race-based hiring and recruitment in STEM.
  • The State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act’s $200 million for the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund.
  • The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act’s $108 million for “environmental justice” activities.

The $900 million outlay excludes broader items highlighted in the letters, like the $3.5 billion earmarked for energy efficiency and renewable energy in the 2023 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Given that the letters represent only a partial accounting of such programs, the vagueness of budget language, and the discretion with which federal agencies can act, tax dollars advancing such efforts may well substantially dwarf these figures.

The letters also target language in the 2023 versions of:

  • The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, claiming that “white supremacists and violent anti-government domestic extremists” are “infiltrating security and law-enforcement agencies.”
  • The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, directing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to detain transgender illegal aliens at facilities only with staff who have received “LGBTI Sensitivity and Awareness Training,” and medical personnel with experience delivering hormone therapies.
  • The Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, requesting that the Department of Energy consider social equity and environmental and energy justice in state and community energy programs.

“We believe that the House Republican majority has a responsibility to use its spending powers to ensure that we do not contribute further funding to anti-American and divisive initiatives,” the signatories to each letter wrote.

Tough Odds

They face tough odds given Democratic control of the Presidency and Senate and the persistence of budgetary gridlock in Congress. Though the House has primary power under the Constitution to tax and spend, only three times in the last 47 years has Congress completed a budget in advance of the subsequent fiscal year, which begins October 1 — often relying instead on continuing resolutions that temporarily fund the government at existing levels. This year spending disagreements extend to negotiations to avert a U.S. debt default by relaxing the limit on federal borrowing, a ceiling some expect the government to reach this summer; in those talks, the Biden administration has refused to contemplate any cuts at all.

Should Congress pass and President Biden ultimately compromise on a budget that does not wholly comport with his progressive priorities, his administration could be expected to circumvent the anti-woke constraints. In a recent precedent, President Trump declared a national emergency to justify redirecting funding to build a southern border wall that Congress had not so allocated. The courts ultimately blessed that effort. But in his first day in office, President Biden froze it.

When asked about chances of GOP success in the present effort, Rep. Banks told RCI that:

This needs to be the Republican majority that says enough is enough. Speaker Pelosi famously said “show me your budget and I’ll tell you your values.” This appropriations cycle, Republicans need to show that we value liberty, patriotism and legal equality and that we reject dividing Americans based on race, anti-Americanism, radical gender ideology and climate hysteria.

Even if the defunding effort fails, the Banks-led coalition may see a political benefit to pursuing it: pushing Democrats in the 2024 election cycle to stake out positions on more deeply ideological – and presumably less broadly popular – programs.

RCI asked ranking Democrats on several of the appropriations subcommittees for comment on the Banks letters, and had not received any responses at the time of publication.The House Anti-Woke Caucus members’ budget requests represent its most extensive legislative effort to date.

In March, the caucus reportedly held its inaugural dinner and endorsed its first piece of legislation, the Fairness, Anti-Discrimination and Individual Rights (FAIR) Act. Sponsored by Anti-Woke Caucus member Tom Tiffany, a Republican from Wisconsin, the bill would bar any federal agency, contractor, state, or private entity that receives federal funding from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment on the basis of race, color, or national origin. 

Banks announced he would be establishing the Anti-Woke Caucus in January, pledging to “fight institutionalized wokeness” – an announcement that came just days before he would declare his candidacy for an open U.S. Senate seat in Indiana in 2024.  

In an interview for RealClearPolitics in February, the Indiana congressman indicated that the caucus had three missions – the first two to which the appropriations subcommittee letters seem to aim: To “Identify Wokeism, defund it and uproot it, and then hold those accountable for it.” 

Banks added that wokeism is “a cancer that’s going to eat our country inside out and kill us if we don’t do something about it.”

Comments 30

  1. Wokeness is ruining our Country. The outgoing Mayor of Chicago, Kim Foxx and others blame the fact that they are Black and Women is the reason they are losing their jobs. Nonsense, I tell you. Being Black and a Woman helped them to get those jobs, like Obama and others, but their Policies toward their fellow man destroyed them. You do not hire people because of color, you hire them because they can do the job. Our Industries are been destroyed, our Air Lines are a mess, our Bank System and most of beautiful Cities are taken over by thugs, and thieves, and the new Mayor of Chicago says they are just kids? Who is he kidding. Our children did not grow up to destroy and steal and not go to school and pass school because they are minorities. I am a minority, and I have worked hard all my life to raise my kids and give them Christian Values and an Education. These children have no Father’s at home, and they are running the Streets at 2:00 AM. Woke is an excuse to destroy our Country and I do not watch TV anymore, look who is delivering the news. Nuts, I tell you. The Hollywood types that support Woke will be destroyed by it, and those sick numbskulls on the VIEW SHOULD ALL SHOULD BE FIRED AND TAKEN OFF THE AIR. THE PRESS, THE FBI, THE CIA, AND THE OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS TELLING THE SO CALLED JOURNALIST WHAT TO SAY AND WHOM THEY CAN DESTROY. THEY KEEP LYING EVERY DAY AND DUMB PEOPLE BELIEVE THEM. UNBELIEVABLE WHAT HAS HAPPEND TO THIS ONCE GREAT NATION. THEY SURE WANT IT TO COME TO IT’s KNESS AND IT IS HAPPENING FOLKS. STUDITY IS EVERY WHERE. KEEP EXPOSING THE EVIL AMONG US JOHN. GOD IS LOVE.

    1. Excellent response and right on.
      Maybe Riga Tony needs to take a walk to his nearest State Sponsored Pritzker Pharmacy (legalized pot shoppes) and toke up again to stay in his haze and and avoid the obvious state of out govt/media.

  2. Anyone espousing the notion of “woke” in any/all of its forms should be accused of hate crimes and reverse discrimination. We have already gone through and dismissed quota systems and this is just a new way of trying to bring it back. It also reminds me of the old Chinese concept of reindoctrination. What I am having a hard time believing is that there are NO elected Democrats who are refusing to go along with this backward way of thinking and that the population of Democrat voters are buying into this claptrap as well! What flavor KoolAid are they all ingesting? Is that why over 50 “leaders” of our govt. agencies signed the letter about the Russian dossier? Were they and/or their families threatened? Has our govt. been reduced to mass hysteria? The fact that all those funds, time and effort could be better spent on something that could actually help people or solve a real problem is mind boggling! Lightfoot and Foxx continue to play the “boy crying wolf” card to rationalize their incompetence and I say good riddance to both! Neither can hold a candle to the very accomplished minority women I’ve had the privilege to meet in my life/career, including a math professor who taught me at SXU who worked at NASA and was the single most brilliant teacher I’ve ever had! I hope we see a resurgence of REAL CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS before 2024!

    1. There are Democrats that think normally but are threatened with primary challenges if they don’t follow the orders. Remember pols are whores, in it for themselves to get a fat easy salary, great pensions and other perks. They just want to get their time in and retire,… some other state.
      BTW it’s best that both parties run/hold something, ie GOP the House, Dems Senate and Presidency. That way nothing gets done. Generally, that benefits us. Only necessary bills get passed bcuz it’s bipartisan voting. It’s when 1 party controls all three that us chumbolones get screwed.

  3. I’m encouraged to see Banks’ Anti-Woke Caucus, and pray for their success.

    Curious: Does anyone know if the members were hand-selected or self-selected?

  4. Helen, Kathleen, thank you. So very well stated and well written.

    The scariest part of all of this is not the goofy politicians themselves, but those
    who think this is all great and vote the numbskulls in.

    I think a lot of the voter apathy comes not from caring but feeling that there is not a good choice and being tired of voting against vs voting for. In many of the past elections I have to admit, I am guilty as charged. I saw the Biden fiasco coming and backed Trump until the end.

    Yes, I believe the election was rigged, not stolen and wish those who professed the theories would have gone that route. When those in power use an overinflated response to an illness to change laws, procedures and rules relating to voting on their own without proper constitutional procedure (ie. Legislature/Court approvals), it’s clear where the rigging was done. Quoting Rahm Emmanuel, “never let a crisis go to waste”. In this case, that was executed perfectly and now we all pay the price. Sooner or later people will wake (not woke) up.

  5. In addition, Republicans need to get moderate on the abortion issue. The more the hard liners oppose any abortion or seen 6 week bans, the more the single issue voters will turn out to oppose it.
    I’m not a fan of abortion, it’s a necessary evil. However, this needs to move way down the list of conservative priorities and that overall stance must be moderated. I understand arguements to the contrary.
    If you want to win popular elections, don’t keep making the same mistakes. On the other hand, if you want to lose on the principles of only a few, keep doing what you’re doing.

    1. I agree with you to a point. However, your statement “abortion is a necessary evil”, is 100% false. It is NEVER “necessary” until the mother’s life and health are at stake. The rest of the time, it is the result of a consensual act, more often than not irresponsible use or non-use of birth control. My 19 years working as an MA in an OB/GYN medical office (which did not do abortions) proved that. Abortion is used as birth control these days, tragically.

  6. A shout out to Ms. Helen Edward’s for points well made. We should all do our part by not giving these people our money. I don’t watch anything on any of these networks like ABC, NBC or CBS. I cancelled Netflix years ago. When I read about internal woke politics in any corporation I especially avoid any business with that company. Newspapers? Hah! Forget about it. Full of lies, half truth’s, and innuendoes. Chicago news media conveniently sat on Brandon Johnson’s unpaid water bill until after his televised debates with Paul Vallas. As the saying goes, “Vote with your pocketbook”. Judging from the perennial low ratings of network TV, especially the “late night comics” routinely beat by Gutfield on Fox, I’m not the only one not watching. The elites have dug in deep though. Twenty years ago the ratings these guys get would have sent them to the unemployment line. Not anymore. Corporate media keeps them on because they have an audience of sycophants that buy into their non comedic drivel. This constantly pushes their leftist agenda every night on a nationwide scale. I won’t go see any movie that features any of the usual leftist idiots in them. Big money, big name movies bomb routinely because of the repugnant “stars” in them. People won’t spend any money to see these. Tom Hanks? George Clooney? Are they even movie stars anymore? I think they qualify as “straight to Nextflix” stars. You’ve come to realize that these actors you thought were funny, likable people despise you for your beliefs. We can thank their honesty in their social media postings for helping us realize this. Let’s continue to vote with our pocketbooks. Losing money is the only thing corporations understand. Let’s make sure they get the point. Anheiser- Busch is surely getting it right now. Good and hard.

  7. “Woke.” Another manufactured GOP battle line in the never ending culture wars. Disney is woke, M@M’s are woke, Bud is woke, Schools are woke, blah, blah, blah. Enough already. Because ‘woke’ is associated with African Americans, it’s been a useful club for those who want to beat those seeking justice over the head with white grievance politics to win elections without deploying explicitly racist terms. You don’t have to admit being a bigot! Just call it WOKE! Newsflash-the niché ‘culture war’ may be meaningful to the comment section on Fox News but mainstream America could care less. Another case of the GOP overstepping where they believe the American voter is, and it will come back to crush them (again) in 2024.

    1. Tony, that’s not so. The “Woke” term was created and propagated by the mid to far left to describe the constellation of “issues” and “grievances” they embrace. This was done intentionally to allow consolidation of people with differing grievances. That the GOP is using the term to call out inconsistency and hypocrisy within that grouping is entirely appropriate and fair play. Disagree if you like, but get your facts straight.

      1. It’s you who seems confused. The term ‘Woke’ has been around since the mid 20th century, and has always referred to being alert to racial and social injustice, absolutely nothing to do with ‘issues’ or ‘grievances’ someone who doesn’t think EXACTLY as you do may embrace. Conservatives now use the term as an attack against cancel culture, political correctness and racial justice initiatives. The GOP has appropriated the definition to be “a full-on dog whistle” for attempts to limit the right to vote, curtail reproductive and abortion rights and ban inclusive education in schools, NONE of those issues are linked to the traditional definition of the word. One of us has his facts strait, it ain’t you.

        1. If you say so Tony it must be so.
          Despite this pretty disagreement about entomology it is entirely appropriate in today’s discussion for GOP minds to use the term “woke”. The parlance is clear.
          The left does not own vocabulary, though it seems to want to change the definition of words at will to change or confuse thinking and dialogue. Disagree if you like, we still live in 2023 when you are able to.

          1. You are missing the point. The definition, the entomology and the origins of the expression ‘woke’ (commonly expressed as ‘stay woke’) have long been established, that isn’t in dispute. References to ‘staying woke’ appear in music and discourse surrounding social injustice as far back as the 1960’s. The GOP hijacked the expression as a ‘catch all’ meaning curtail reproductive and abortion, inclusive education in schools or plain old bigotry. If ANYONE has changed the definition, its culture war focused conservatives. Here’s the thing, only the MAGA base cares about the culture wars, GOP donors are pulling back for exactly this reason. If the GOP doesn’t shift focus away from the culture war BACK to bedrock issues that concern conservatives (smaller government, the economy..) they will be humiliated AGAIN in 2024, no question. THATS why articles such as the above pointless drivel are hurting the conservative cause more than helping. Get it?

    2. Yo! Tee! I know you’re the owner of several fine fictional drinking establishments and skyscrapers in Beloit Wisconsin but I beg to differ! “Woke” does not apply to race but to socialist/ communist teachings. I have known many “persons of color”, I know, another woke term, and they are not socialist/ communists, ie, our fine “socialist democrats”. We all reject having this nonsense taught to our kids in public institutions. We reject the indoctrination of our children in institutions that our tax dollars subsidize. If you, being “RigaTony” or “Tee” for short, choose to wear a dress or hotpants in public its a-ok by me. No one cares about you that much, you are pretty much inconsequential. I, and most parents simply don’t want gender confusion taught to our children in grammar schools. These beliefs include many in mainstream America who are now very loudly making their voices known. Your government has responded by having its weaponized the Justice Department brand them as domestic terrorists. This is the truth but you can’t handle the truth. So sit back on your imaginary barstool, order a round of imaginary drinks for your imaginary buddies at your imaginary bar and have a shot for the rest of us. I’ll even buy a round with imaginary money. Its not easy being an imaginary skyscraper mogul in Beloit Wisconsin. We all know that.

      1. Congratulations on ‘knowing many persons of color’, how progressive of you. Ever bother speaking to any of them? Interacting? Are they a badge against your underlying racism? You can always spot a racist when he brags about ‘knowing many persons of color.” Your version of ‘truth’ extends as far as your intelligence, not far. It would seem that you care a great deal about me, enough to cobble together an incoherent response, I’m flattered. Moreover I believe DuRP’s narrative about me involved ‘Mineral Point’, not Beloit, and no mention of skyscrapers. Try and keep up. I suggest you look up to the entomology of the expression ‘woke,’ you may be surprised. Doubtful. I’ll still buy you a round, White Claw, right???

  8. Well, as Budweiser has recently learned, you go woke, you go broke! However, enough talk and gnashing of teeth. Time for the GOP senators and reps to put their “big boy” pants on and fight back with all their energy if they hope to effect change, reversing this cancer, that is spreading through every fiber of our society. I’m not terribly hopeful, but pray they can summon the courage to fight, and fight hard, as this is coming to a head, and we’ll be unable to alter course if we lose this battle!

  9. DEI programs, aka full employment act for gender studies majors and societal parasites, will erode our economic and overall health. These programs destroy productivity and demoralize producers. The advocates of DEI lust for power. A shrinking pie is just fine so long as they get the largest, first piece.

  10. Yo Tee! I’m getting a round of Champale and a shot of Malort for your fictional bartender over dere in Beloit Wisconsin! If you were really from Chicago, or ” Chi-Town”as the tourists say, you might know what I mean. I’ll spell it out for you…NO REAL CHICAGOAN REFERS TO CHICAGO AS ” CHI- TOWN. Just go back to your Facebook handlers and let them know you just got your ass handed to you. You deserve it with your socialist nonsense. No one wants you on this forum. Ya fake…

    1. Yo Tee! I’m not trying to put a scare inta ya but I hear fake Donald Trump is putting a fake 80 story hi rise over dere in Beloit to steal your many fictional Section 8 tenants from ya! Just sayin’!

    2. No real Chicagoan actually drinks Malort, they trick they’re out of town friends into drinking it, same with deep dish and Garrett’s Popcorn, and I believe the fake version of the Tap was in Mineral Point, not Beloit. “Ya fake?” You actually wrote that? How can you afford the 5 dollar monthly subscription?? Mom financing your social media?

      1. Tony, the Democrats long abandoned the historic Roosevelt coalition of labor, immigrants, white ethnics, Catholics, in favor of suburban elites and corporate money. They rake the corporate money and do their bidding.

        “Woke policies” or whatever passes for that is merely used to placate educated minorities. They don’t really care about poor people, labor, and generally look down on anyone who works with their hands.

        Most working people don’t give a shit about diversity, equity, inclusion, white, black, brown, or other. Our economy has been hollowed out and in places wher guys used to get 20 an hour plus OT and benefits, they now are luck to get 15 and no benefits.

        In the hood, all you have are chicken shacks, liquor stores, and beauty supply, good for the owner, who likely doesn’t live there, and low pay for the workers.

        Identity, rainbow flags, all of that be is used as a cloak for Dems to cover up for shitty treatment of workers, and wielded as a cudgel by republicans, who don’t care about the workers either and have no policy ideas other than their version of “freedom”.

        Our choices are lousy and less lousy, depending if you’re right or left. A guy in a diaper who doesn’t know what day it is, vs a carnival barker, a clown.

        Billions for Ukraine and we have 600,000 living in the street?

        I don’t blame people for not voting

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