Lawmakers offer House bill to block transgender troop ban

Lawmakers offer House bill to block transgender troop ban
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation Friday to protect transgender people from being pulled from military service. 

The proposal from Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentGOP House candidate placed on leave from longtime position after sexual misconduct allegation Election handicapper moves GOP leader's race to 'toss-up' The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Pa.), Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisWomen poised to take charge in Dem majority Dems demand answers on Pentagon not recognizing Pride Month Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks MORE (D-Calif.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen MORE (D-Wash.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) prevents the Department of Defense from removing currently serving members of the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity.

President Trump in July announced in a series of tweets that he was reinstating a ban on transgender people serving in the military, claiming the Pentagon could not be “burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption” brought by their service. 

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In August, he signed a memo instructing the Department of Defense to begin implementing the ban.

“Kicking out members of the United States Armed Services solely based on their gender identity is hateful, discriminatory, and on the wrong side of history,” Speier said in a statement.

“News flash, Mr. President — thousands of transgender troops already serve our country with pride and dignity. Our military should be focused on recruiting and retaining the best troops, not on rejecting qualified service members on the basis of discrimination.” 

The House bill is a companion to legislation offered in the Senate last month by Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandKamala Harris calls for Senate to protect Mueller probe as Rosenstein faces potential dismissal This week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos Gillibrand calls for Kavanaugh nomination to be withdrawn MORE (D-N.Y.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCongress must use bipartisan oversight as the gold standard The Hill's Morning Report — Ford, Kavanaugh to testify Thursday as another accuser comes forward Trump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote MORE (R-Ariz.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedNew York Times: Trump mulling whether to replace Mattis after midterms Overnight Defense: Biden honors McCain at Phoenix memorial service | US considers sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo and Iraq | Senators press Trump on ending Yemen civil war Senators press Trump administration on Yemen civil war MORE (D-R.I.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRosenstein faces Trump showdown Kavanaugh: I'm asking for a 'fair process' Collins: Second Kavanaugh accuser should speak with Senate panel under oath  MORE (R-Maine).

Last month, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump returns to UN praising Kim | Iran in crosshairs later this week | US warns Russia on missile defense in Syria Bolton: Russian missile system sale to Syria a 'significant escalation' Overnight Defense: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' MORE released an interim guidance that implements the ban on new recruits but allows transgender service members to continue serving in the military and receive medical care while the department determines how to enforce Trump’s order. The guidance, however, says no new sex reassignment surgeries will be allowed after March 22.

Under the House bill, Mattis would be required to complete his review accepting transgender individuals into the armed forces by the end of this year and report the results to Congress. 

Ros-Lehtinen called the ban a “sad reminder of the dark chapters in our nation's history that should never be repeated.” 

“Any patriot, as long as they are qualified to serve, should have the ability to, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said. “These individuals are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom, a freedom that they should also be able to enjoy."