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 SpeierOvernight Defense: House to vote on military justice bill spurred by Vanessa Guillén death | Biden courts veterans after Trump's military controversies House to vote on 'I Am Vanessa Guillén' bill Overnight Defense: Trump's battle with Pentagon poses risks in November | Lawmakers launch Fort Hood probe | Military members can't opt out of tax deferral MORE (Calif.), A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden pledges carbon-free power by 2035 in T environment plan | Trump administration has been underestimating costs of carbon pollution, government watchdog finds | Trump to move forward with rollback of bedrock environmental law Trump to move forward with rollback of bedrock environmental law Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 MORE (Va.) and Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Warren announces slate of endorsements including Wendy Davis and Cornyn challenger Hegar MORE (Calif.) and moderate Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenWomen rise on K Street — slowly Ex-Florida GOP congresswoman under federal investigation: report 'Trump show' convention sparks little interest on K Street MORE (Fla.), whose son is transgender.

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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 MattisBiden courts veterans amid fallout from Trump military controversies Trump says he wanted to take out Syria's Assad but Mattis opposed it Gary Cohn: 'I haven't made up my mind' on vote for president in November MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenMore than million in DHS contracts awarded to firm of acting secretary's wife: report DHS IG won't investigate after watchdog said Wolf, Cuccinelli appointments violated law Appeals court sides with Trump over drawdown of immigrant protections 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.