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 SpeierEpstein death sparks questions for federal government Overnight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess Democrats see window closing for impeachment MORE (Calif.), A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinRacial politics roil Democratic Party CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries Harris hops past Biden in early race for Black Caucus support MORE (Va.) and Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisSupporting the military means supporting military spouses Sinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race Republican's campaign accused of racism for referring to Palestinian opponent as a 'national security threat' MORE (Calif.) and moderate Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenRepublican Salazar seeks rematch with Shalala in key Miami House district Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm 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 MattisOnly Donald Trump has a policy for Afghanistan New Pentagon report blames Trump troop withdrawal for ISIS surge in Iraq and Syria Mattis returns to board of General Dynamics MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenDOJ to Supreme Court: Trump decision to end DACA was lawful Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign Trump casts uncertainty over top intelligence role 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.