Overnight Defense: House votes to condemn transgender military ban | 5 Republicans vote against ban | Senate bill would block Turkey getting F-35s over Russia deal

Happy Thursday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Ellen Mitchell, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

 

THE TOPLINE: The House passed a resolution formally condemning the Trump administration's transgender military ban in a 238-185 vote on Thursday.

Five Republicans joined every Democrat in backing the measure, which was spearheaded by Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyOvernight Defense: Transgender troops rally as ban nears | Trump may call more troops to border | National Guard expects 3M training shortfall from border deployment | Pentagon to find housing for 5,000 migrant children Transgender troops rally as Pentagon prepares to implement ban The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump rallies for second term on 'promises kept' MORE III (D-Mass.), who serves as the chair of the Equality Caucus's Transgender Equality Task Force.

The resolution's passage comes shortly after the administration announced that the requirement for members of the military to serve as the gender they were assigned at birth would be implemented next month, effectively undoing the Obama administration's policy from June 2016.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday finalized a ruling to lift an injunction against the ban, allowing the policy to take effect April 12 as planned.

The nonbinding resolution -- which was co-sponsored by 216 Democrats and GOP Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoHouse conservative's procedural protest met with bipartisan gripes House conservative's procedural protest met with bipartisan gripes There is a severe physician shortage and it will only worsen MORE (N.Y.) -- states the reversal in policy is detrimental to "our national security by undermining our ability to recruit and retain the talented personnel" and that "claims attempting to justify President TrumpDonald John TrumpDC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' DC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' Mexico's immigration chief resigns amid US pressure over migrants MORE's ban are based on flawed scientific and medical assertions."

The argument: Proponents of the measure have blasted the president's decision, which was announced in July 2017, as discriminatory and unnecessary.

"We believe that the policy that the Pentagon is putting forward is unfair and based on ignorance and bigotry and will actually harm national security, and we ask the House in this resolution to express the sense of Congress that we oppose this policy from the Pentagon," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One House panel approves 3B defense policy bill House panel approves 3B defense policy bill MORE (D-Wash.) said on the floor ahead of the vote.

"Again, what this policy's primarily based on is ignorance and bias against the transgender community. The policy [that] is being implemented will make it virtually impossible to let them serve in the military. It's discrimination. The military last year failed to meet its recruitment quotas. It's hard to find the people who have the character, the capability and the ability to serve in our military. We have the best military in the history of the world."

What the policy does: Under the policy, any service member who enlists after April 12 or who has not already come out as transgender would have to serve in the gender they were assigned at birth. Further, any transgender person who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria will not be allowed to join unless a doctor certifies they have been stable in their biological sex for 36 months and they have not transitioned to the gender as which they identify.

Troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria after they join the military can be discharged if they are "unable or unwilling to adhere to all applicable standards, including the standards associated with their biological sex," a Pentagon memo on the policy says.

The policy grandfathers in currently serving troops who have already come out, meaning they can continue serving openly and receiving medical care.

The administration's reasoning: The Pentagon argues the policy is not a ban since currently serving transgender troops can continue to do so and other transgender people will be allowed to serve in their biological sex. But transgender troops and their advocates say it is effectively a transgender version of the defunct "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that banned gay, lesbian and bisexual troops from serving openly.

Supporters of the administration's decision have made their case by pointing to medical costs and the need for military focus.

What happens now: The resolution is not expected to see any movement in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierOvernight Defense: Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy | Trump, Macron downplay rift on Iran | Trump mourns West Point cadet's death in accident | Pentagon closes review of deadly Niger ambush Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy: 'You are the pride of our nation' Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy: 'You are the pride of our nation' MORE (D-Calif.) introduced separate legislation that would allow transgender people to serve in the military.

On the House floor, Smith said the Armed Services Committee will also draft legislation addressing the issue.

Breaking party lines: The Republicans who voted with Democrats on the move were Katko and fellow Reps. Trey HollingsworthJoseph (Trey) Albert HollingsworthOcasio-Cortez, Cruz lobbying ban faces tough hurdles Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz lobbying ban faces tough hurdles 58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill MORE (Ind.), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Lawmakers grapple with deepfake threat at hearing MORE (Texas), Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedGOP leader, Ocasio-Cortez give boost to lawmaker pay hike GOP leader, Ocasio-Cortez give boost to lawmaker pay hike Here are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act MORE (N.Y.) and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickLawmakers push to permanently ban automatic pay raises for members of Congress Lawmakers push to permanently ban automatic pay raises for members of Congress GOP leader, Ocasio-Cortez give boost to lawmaker pay hike MORE (Pa.). One Republican, Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashMcCabe says it's 'absolutely' time to launch impeachment inquiry into Trump McCabe says it's 'absolutely' time to launch impeachment inquiry into Trump Amash responds to Trump Jr. primary threat with Russia joke MORE (Mich.), voted present.

 

SENATE BILL WOULD MAKE TURKEY CHOOSE BETWEEN US FIGHTERS, RUSSIAN AIR DEFENSE: A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill Thursday that would prohibit the United States from transferring F-35 fighter jets to Turkey until Ankara abandons its plans to buy a Russian air defense system.

"Turkey is an important NATO ally and willing partner in addressing a number of U.S. national security priorities," Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordOvernight Defense: Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy | Trump, Macron downplay rift on Iran | Trump mourns West Point cadet's death in accident | Pentagon closes review of deadly Niger ambush Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy: 'You are the pride of our nation' Hillicon Valley: Mueller remarks put spotlight on election security bills | US to ask visa applicants for social media info | Tech blasts Trump tariffs on Mexico MORE (R-Okla.) said in a statement. "It's concerning that Turkey would seek close defense cooperation with Russia, whose authoritarian ruler seeks to undermine NATO and U.S. interests at every turn."

Who signed on to the bill and what it does: Lankford introduced the bill with Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDesign leaks for Harriet Tubman bill after Mnuchin announces delay Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill after Mnuchin announces delay Bipartisan senators push new bill to improve foreign lobbying disclosures MORE (D-N.H.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTrump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Trump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Trump hit with fierce backlash over interference remarks MORE (R-N.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties Lawmakers raise security concerns about China building NYC subway cars MORE (D-Md.).

The bill would require the Trump administration to certify that Turkey is not buying a Russian S-400 long-range air-defense system before Ankara can take delivery of an F-35.

The background: The bill is the latest effort from U.S. lawmakers and officials to convince Turkey not to buy Russia's S-400.

U.S. officials are concerned the S-400 could be used to gather information on the F-35, the most advanced U.S. aircraft. The United States and other NATO allies have also warned the S-400 system will not work with other NATO defense systems, and that Turkey could be subject to U.S. sanctions against those who do business with Russia's defense industry.

"The S-400 is a computer. The F-35 is a computer. You don't hook your computer to your adversary's computer and that's basically what we would be doing," Katie Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs, told Reuters earlier this month.

Threats from the US so far: Reuters reported this month that U.S. officials are considering freezing preparations for delivering the F-35 to Turkey should it proceed with the S-400 purchase.

The same day of the report, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States will "have a hard time reconciling" delivery of the F-35 if Turkey follows through on buying the S-400.

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, head of U.S. European Command, told Congress this month he would recommend that the United States withhold the delivery of the jet if Turkey buys the Russian system.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

Iraq's new speaker of the Council of Representatives Mohammed al-Halbousi will speak on "A New Parliament in Iraq," at the  11:30 a.m. at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. 

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: NATO members extend secretary general's term

-- The Hill: GOP senator demands info on Google's work in China

-- The Hill: Bipartisan bill would create cyber advisory panel at DHS

-- The Hill: UN investigator calls on Saudi Arabia to make Khashoggi murder trials public

-- The Hill: Russia pushes back on Trump: 'Specialists' sent to Venezuela pose no threat

-- The Hill: Venezuelan government says Guaidó can't hold office for 15 years

-- The Hill: Opinion: Women's economic empowerment is a national security issue