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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 DentMidterms put GOP centrists in peril House GOP group cuts financial support for Coffman, Bishop GOP House candidate placed on leave from longtime position after sexual misconduct allegation 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 SmithLawmakers press Trump to keep Mattis Hillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data Dems blast Trump for 'conflating' Chinese, Russian election interference claims 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 GillibrandAffordable housing set for spotlight of next presidential campaign Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Senators seek US intel on journalist's disappearance | Army discharged over 500 immigrant recruits in one year | Watchdog knocks admiral over handling of sexual harassment case Pentagon watchdog knocks top admiral for handling of sexual harassment case MORE (D-N.Y.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Arizona Dems hope higher Latino turnout will help turn the state blue McConnell: GOP could try to repeal ObamaCare again after midterms MORE (R-Ariz.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedLawmakers press Trump to keep Mattis Overnight Defense: Trump asks Turkey for evidence on missing journalist | Key Dem calls for international probe | Five things to know about 'MBS' | Air Force struggles to determine cost of hurricane damage to F-22 jets Trump administration doesn't have ambassadors in Saudi Arabia or Turkey MORE (D-R.I.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (R-Maine).

Last month, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisLawmakers press Trump to keep Mattis US mulls sending warships through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions Overnight Defense: US, South Korea cancel another military exercise | Dozen sailors injured in chopper crash on aircraft carrier | Navy vet charged with sending toxic letters 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."