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Defense bill amendment would protect open transgender military service

Defense bill amendment would protect open transgender military service
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A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is looking to codify the ability of transgender troops to serve openly with a proposed amendment to the annual defense policy bill.

The amendment would make the open-service policy crafted by the Obama administration law unless Congress acts to change it, effectively blocking the Trump administration from enacting its ban on transgender service members.

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was offered by Democratic Reps. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierFemale House Dems urge Senate to delay Kavanaugh testimony for FBI investigation Election Countdown: Kavanaugh allegations put GOP in tough spot | Republicans start to pull plug on candidates | Dems get early start in Iowa | O'Rourke defends Cruz after protesters interrupt dinner | Why Biden is the Democrat GOP most fears Dems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage MORE (Calif.), A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinVirginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence Trump, Obamas and Clintons among leaders mourning Aretha Franklin Overnight Energy — Presented by Chevron — Watchdog to look into Zinke deal with oil exec | Perry concedes Iran sanctions could raise oil prices | GOP chair pushing ahead with probe into green groups MORE (Va.) and 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 (Calif.) and moderate Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenGOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Dems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms Electoral battle for Hispanics intensifies in Florida MORE (Fla.), whose son is transgender.

The House Rules Committee is set to meet Monday and Tuesday to determine which amendments will get a floor vote, with the House expected to take up the NDAA later in the week.

In March, Trump signed a memo banning most transgender people from serving in the military “except under certain limited circumstances.” The memo gave Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' Joint Chiefs chairman to meet with Saudi counterpart Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' despite 'Democrat' remark MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him Top Judiciary Dems call for unredacted 'zero tolerance' memo The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem path to a Senate majority narrows MORE, who oversees the Coast Guard, “authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals.”

No new policy can go into effect immediately, as courts have issued preliminary injunctions in four separate lawsuits that require the Pentagon to continue allowing open service while the cases work their way through the court system.

Trump’s memo was issued in conjunction with the release of a report on Mattis’s recommendations on how to handle transgender troops. The recommendations say that anyone diagnosed with gender dysphoria should be banned except under certain circumstances, including if they have not had gender dysphoria for 36 months or if they have been diagnosed after entering service but do not need to transition gender.

Transgender troops and their advocates say such a policy would effectively create a new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for transgender service.

Last year’s House debate on the NDAA included a vote on an amendment that would have banned the Pentagon from providing transition-related medical care to transgender troops.

The amendment was rejected on a largely party-line vote. Two weeks later, Trump first tweeted his intention to ban transgender troops from serving.