Peltola votes against military bill, citing partisan amendments

woman speaking into a microphone
U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola at the 2022 Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

The U.S. House passed an annual bill Friday to reauthorize the military and give troops a 5.2% pay raise. 

Alaska’s congresswoman voted against it, as did nearly all other Democrats.

In an emailed statement, Rep. Mary Peltola said it was one of the hardest votes she’s taken. But she said she couldn’t support it after Republicans added amendments “designed to create political attack ads.”

The amendments passed largely along party lines. They include limits on abortion and transgender care for military members, and they prohibit any military office for diversity or inclusion. 

Peltola’s statement says she believes service members are citizens with rights to privacy and medical choice.

“We shouldn’t be pitting pay raises that they deserve against the reproductive freedoms that they also deserve,” her statement says.

While she voted no on final passage of the defense bill Friday, Peltola missed 30 votes on Thursday, most of them on amendments.

“Unfortunately, she is very unwell and is in bed at home,” Peltola’s chief of staff, Anton McParland, said Thursday, as the voting was still underway.

Peltola played in the Congressional Women’s Softball Game, an annual fundraiser for breast cancer care, Wednesday evening, then fell ill. The next day turned out to be a big one for House votes. Her absence doubled the number of votes she’s missed. She’s now missed more votes than all but 11 House members, according to a database maintained by ProPublica.

Peltola Press Secretary Sam Erickson said the congresswoman would have voted against an amendment to stop reimbursing military members for travel to get an abortion. He declined to say how she would have voted on any of the other votes she missed Thursday.

The Senate must still pass the defense bill. The Democratic leadership there is unlikely to approve a measure with the abortion and transgender care limits the House added.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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