House passes amendment barring funding for transgender troops ban

House passes amendment barring funding for transgender troops ban
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The House on Thursday passed an amendment aimed at overturning the Trump administration’s transgender military ban.

The measure, from Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierDemocrats demand Esper explicitly ban Confederate flag and allow Pride, Native Nations flags Overnight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier House passes amendment barring funding for transgender troops ban MORE (D-Calif.) and 28 Democratic co-sponsors, was approved by voice vote as part of a group of a few dozen amendments passed while the House considers a $1.3 trillion spending package that includes the fiscal 2021 defense appropriations bill.

The amendment would block the use of funds to implement the Pentagon’s transgender service policy, which says transgender people can only serve in the military if they do so in their biological sex or get a waiver.

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The House approved the same amendment last year, but it did not survive negotiations with the Senate and White House to be signed into law in the final spending bill.

Since then, the military has granted just one waiver to allow a transgender person to serve openly. A report to Congress last month also said that as of February, the military had only considered two waivers total and that 19 people were medically disqualified from enlisting or commissioning as an officer because of the policy.

The Pentagon argues its policy is not a ban because of the exception for waivers, as well as a carve-out for people who were serving openly before the policy took effect last year to continue doing so.

But opponents of the policy say the data show it effectively is a ban akin to the defunct “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that banned open service by gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.

“The Department of Defense should not be spending taxpayer money on a politically motivated policy that keeps qualified people out of the military, particularly when the military continues to face enlistment shortfalls,” Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, said this week in a statement on the House amendment.

Additionally, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June barring discrimination against LGBT workers. The ruling did not apply to the military, but lawyers in the four lawsuits against the policy are hopeful the ruling will bolster their arguments, and 116 Democrats urged the Trump administration to drop its policy in light of the ruling.