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 DentThe Hill's Morning Report - Government is funded, but for how long? Ex-GOP lawmaker says his party is having a 'Monty Python' moment on shutdown Former GOP lawmaker: Republicans know shutdown is ‘a fight they cannot win’ MORE (R-Pa.), Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisOvernight Defense: Gillibrand offers bill to let transgender troops serve | Pentagon ready to protect US personnel in Venezuela | Dems revive fight with Trump over Saudis Gillibrand introduces bipartisan bill to allow transgender military service Bold, bipartisan action on child care will win plenty of friends MORE (D-Calif.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithWhy Democrats are pushing for a new nuclear policy Overnight Defense: Acting Pentagon chief visits Afghanistan | US, Taliban peace talks intensify | Trump tweets in Persian to send message to Iran | Defense world pays tribute to Walter Jones Budgeting for defense means supporting warfighters in real time 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 GillibrandOn The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation 2020 Dems slam Trump's plan to declare national emergency MORE (D-N.Y.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers wait for Trump's next move on border deal Mark Kelly launches Senate bid in Arizona MORE (R-Ariz.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedWhy Democrats are pushing for a new nuclear policy GOP chairman: US military may have to intervene in Venezuela if Russia does Trump gears up to meet North Korean leader amid low expectations MORE (D-R.I.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration DOJ warns White House that national emergency will likely be blocked: report On The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration MORE (R-Maine).

Last month, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents Does ‘limited war’ mean limited risks for aggressors? US-led coalition says it struck Syrian mosque used by ISIS 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."