House avoids floor fight over transgender people in military
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The House will sidestep a floor fight over whether the Defense Department should pay for service members’ gender reassignment surgeries after President Trump announced Wednesday that transgender people cannot serve in the military.

Trump’s announcement that he will ban transgender people from any military service came as House Republicans pushed for weeks to prevent the Pentagon from having to pay for gender reassignment surgeries.

An amendment to the annual defense authorization bill that would ban the use of funds to pay for the surgeries failed earlier this month. Since then, some Republicans had been urging the White House to take action on the issue ahead of the House considering a spending package this week that includes funding for the Defense Department.

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Several GOP lawmakers had indicated they would oppose the national security-themed spending package if the transgender surgeries policy was not addressed, according to an aide familiar with the issue.

The spending measure includes funding for the Pentagon, Department of Energy, Department of Veterans Affairs, legislative branch operations like the Capitol Police and $1.6 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border wall promised by Trump during the 2016 campaign.

A total of 149 amendments were submitted to the Defense Department portion of the package.

The leadership-controlled House Rules Committee, which determines how legislation is considered on the floor, only made 54 of those amendments in order. None relate to policies of transgender people serving in the military.

Multiple conservative Republicans had submitted amendments constraining the Pentagon from paying for transgender services.

Trump’s announcement negated the concerns from Republicans who had been pushing to prevent the Defense Department from paying for the gender reassignment surgeries, thereby lifting the pressure on the Rules Committee to make their amendments in order.

One amendment from Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) would have banned any funds from being used to force service members from undergoing transgender sensitivity courses or to screen them regarding gender reassignment surgery.

Another from GOP Reps. Scott Perry (Pa.), Bill Posey (Fla.), Glenn Grothman (Wis.), Clay Higgins (La.) and King would have prohibited the use of funds for the gender transition surgeries and any associated medical treatment. A third from Rep. Louie GohmertLouie GohmertHow Republicans split on the Harvey aid, fiscal deal House passes Trump deal on majority Democratic vote Lawmakers press DOJ to help victims of Ponzi scheme MORE (R-Texas) would have banned funds for medical treatment related to gender transition with the exception of mental health.

Conversely, amendments submitted by Democratic Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.) and Scott Peters (Calif.) would have ensured transgender people could serve in the military. Another from Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) would have guaranteed transgender service members could not be denied medical treatment.