House to vote on amendment to defund Trump trans military ban

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), on left, and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), second from right, join transgender service members in the Capitol Rotunda before the State of the Union Address on Feb. 5, 2019. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. House is set to vote on a measure that would prohibit use of U.S. funds to implement President Trump’s transgender military ban.

The House Rules Committee this week approved for debate as part of defense appropriations legislation an amendment introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) that would bar the use of funds to implement the anti-trans policy.

Joining Speier in introducing the amendment were Reps. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.).

Aaron Belkin, director of the San Francisco-based Palm Center, hailed House leadership in a statement for committing to a vote to defund the transgender military ban.

“Rep. Speier’s amendment would prevent the military from implementing this discriminatory ban and wasting taxpayer money firing and replacing fully qualified transgender troops,” Belkin said. “Research indicates that it costs far more money to fire and replace a service member than to provide medically necessary health care. The Defense Department spent only $3 million per year providing health care to transgender personnel before President Trump reinstated the ban, a figure military leadership has called mere ‘budget dust.’”

The amendment is set to come up for a vote either Tuesday or possibly Wednesday, a Democratic leadership aide said.

The Speier amendment is one of several that will obtain a vote as part of the defense appropriations bill. Each of the amendments gets 10 minutes of debate. If a recorded vote is requested on an amendment, the House have a vote on it. The House typically vote on these amendments in blocks.

Speier had previously told the Washington Blade she was considering an amendment against the transgender ban as part of the defense authorization bill, which is separate legislation currently being considered in committee. A Speier aide said she doesn’t see the two vehicles as mutually exclusive and also expects a floor amendment on the defense authorization bill.

The House has already took a symbolic stand against the transgender military ban by passing in March a non-binding resolution. The measure, introduced by Kennedy, condemned the ban and the Pentagon report justifying Trump’s it as discriminatory and based on junk science.

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