Taliban-Equipment-Fact Focus

Taliban special force fighters arrive inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military’s withdrawal in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August

. The Taliban haven’t obtained $80 billion or more in U.S. military equipment despite claims this week from social media users and political figures including Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Lauren Boebert and former President Donald Trump.

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Western Slope Republican, believes that the military should always be funded, even though she plans to vote not to fund it.

"But they deserve better," she said in conclusion to a 441-word statement Thursday night. "Taxpayers deserve better. And that’s what I’ll continue to fight for every day.”

The freshman lawmaker will oppose the National Defense Authorization Act, which funds the military, because she doesn't like the way Democrats operate it. She said she loves the military.

The bill was authored by Rep. Jason Crow, a Democrat from Aurora and an Army veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin. The measure includes and amendment from Colorado Springs U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn that temporarily blocks funds to move U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs to Alabama.

Crow said in a statement Thursday night that he was proud the bill includes a monument on the National Mall to honor troops who fought and died in the Global War on Terror.

"Those of us who have served know the transformative power of a sacred place where the American people can come to reflect, remember and heal," Crow said. "A permanent tribute in our Nation’s Capital will go a long way in honoring those who served this country over the past 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The House voted to approve the bill with a wide bipartisan support, 316-113. The Senate still must pass its own version, before the two chambers work it out for a final vote on a single bill.

Like Boebert, other members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus opposed the bill for the many of the same reasons Boebert cited.

"Our brave service men and women didn’t fight for this liberal woke garbage of an agenda and I didn’t come to Washington to put a rubber stamp on it either," she stated. "Unfortunately, Democrats politicized and jeopardized funding for our troops in the NDAA, legislation that has traditionally been very bipartisan."

Lamborn, supported the spending bill, given the strong military presence in his El Paso County district.

“This bill will provide our warfighters in harm’s way with the resources they need to deter conflict or win it decisively if deterrence fails," he said in a statement. "That said, there are many provisions conservatives will find troubling, and I am dedicated to removing them in Conference Committee with the Senate."

He added, "I could not vote against legislation that is vital to the needs of the Fifth Congressional District and our armed forces."

The strong position and statement is a subject-changer for Boebert's husband, who is enduring a bruising run of bad news over her initial failure to report nearly a half million for consulting services, with his wife on the powerful House Natural Resources Committee.

Tuesday revealed Boebert has other entanglements with the Federal Election Commission, including an admission she used campaign money for personal expenses, including rent and utilities for her Rifle restaurant, which the commission warned her could prove illegal.

Boebert's office said it was a billing mistake and she has reimbursed her campaign. It wasn't her first run-in. In February she amended her December report after claiming she drove 38,000 miles within Colorado to campaign for her office. She collected about $21,200 in mileage and other travel expenses in the state.

The liberal group Accountable.US called on the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Boebert's travel, claiming she collected money for travel, even though her campaign had not public events.

The "must pass" National Defense Authorization Act would spend $777.9 billion in the coming fiscal year to pay for national defense, including $740.3 billion for the Department of Defense and $27.7 billion for national security through the Department of Energy.

Boebert said Democrats ignored Republicans who called for resignations and an impeachment "for their total incompetence" during withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"I won’t sign on to a bill that does nothing to address these failures," according to her statement. "If the Biden regime isn’t going to take any responsibility and Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to allow Congress to pursue investigations and if nobody is going to get fired over the Afghanistan debacle, then I’m not going to vote to give the Democrats carte blanche to do that crap all over again."

She went on to talk about "swampy earmarks," opposing a requirement that young women register with the Selective Service, the same as young men do, as well as the "creation of useless offices and mandatory training to promote 'wokeness' and diversity inclusion among our troops."

Boebert said she submitted six amendments to the bill but none passed.

A bipartisan amendment that did pass the House Rules Committee adds the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow legal cannabis businesses to access the banking system to reduce the amount of cash changing hand. The measure goes to the House floor for a debate and vote as part of the defense bill.

Banks won't do business with the industry now, because cannabis is still illegal under federal law. Thirty-five states allow recreational or medicinal marijuana. The American Bankers Association supports the measure.

The bill also included Rep. Diana DeGette's Protecting America’s Wilderness Act to permanently preserve 660,000 acres of Colorado wilderness at 36 sites, as well as locations in California and Washington state. DeGette's office called it the largest land-protection package ever approved as part of the annual defense authorization act. 

The bill would keep a high-altitude military flight school operated by the Colorado National Guard near Gypsum, which is in Boebert's district, along with many of the wilderness areas in DeGette's bill.

“Preserving these untouched public lands from the threat of future development is about more than just protecting our environment,” DeGette said on the House floor before Thursday's vote.

“It’s also about ensuring that some of our nation’s most elite military pilots have the opportunity — and the space they need — to train.”

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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