A measure in the National Defense Authorization Act intended to encourage screening for white-nationalist beliefs in military enlistees was quietly altered by the Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday, according to HuffPost. The original House amendment was passed to keep white nationalists out of the U.S. military, but the term no longer appears in the act as the revised version requires the Department of Defense to instead screen military enlistees for “extremist and gang-related activity.” The Senate’s version of the massive military spending bill went directly to President Donald Trump’s desk.
The original legislation was introduced by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) in July after reports about a spike in white nationalists in the U.S. military, and the new version effectively heightens the chances for white nationalists to join the military. A series of HuffPost investigations revealed earlier this year that 11 U.S. military servicemen were Identity Evropa members, a notorious white-nationalist group. Aguilar told HuffPost that the Senate’s alteration means that they may not be taking white nationalism seriously, adding, “we cannot turn a blind eye to this growing problem which puts our national security and the safety of the brave men and women serving our country in jeopardy.” White nationalism has consistently posed a threat to the military, according to academics and law enforcement officials. In the 1970s, a Department of Defense directive authorized military enlistees to join the Ku Klux Klan.