Pentagon Spending Bill Will Not Repent Trump's Transgender Ban - Mother Jones

President Trump discusses the current military operations with General Joseph Votel, the commander of the US Central Command. Smith Collection / Gado / Getty

LGBTQ rights groups are blasting the latest version of a massive Pentagon spending bill after congressional negotiators removed the language that would have lifted the ban on President Donald Trump for members of the transgender service.

In July, the Democrats changed the House version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act to ban military discrimination based on gender identity. Ten Republicans voted with Democrats to lift the ban, but the bill passed by the GOP-controlled Senate did not even address the issue. The compromise bill, which came out late on Monday after the conference negotiations between the two chambers, brings Trump’s ban into force. Instead of the original democratic provision, it requires that the Pentagon periodically publish and track data on the members of the military service affected by the ban, as many exceptions are granted by military leaders.

“It’s not surprising that thousands of volunteer members of the transgender service and their families continue to face dismissal just because they are,” states a statement by several stakeholders, including the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center , was published for Transgender Equality and Lambda Legal. “This prohibition is based on bias, not evidence, and is rejected by the American people, military experts and elected officials across the political spectrum.”

The group’s statement praised House Committee Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) And other Democrats in support of the original non-discrimination provision, and republicans of the Senate and Smith’s Republican counterpart, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R. -Texas), blamed for their struggles “remove vigorously.”

Trump announced the first version of his ban on transgender troops in July 2018, citing “the enormous medical costs and disruptions transgendered in the military would entail”. In fact, since 2016, the Pentagon has spent just under $ 8 million on medical care transgender service members – or $ .016 percent of the department’s estimated $ 50 billion in annual healthcare costs.

The surprise policy, announced by a tweet, shocked the military leaders who had just witnessed the lifting of a similar, longstanding ban on transgender forces by the Obama administration. After a series of lawsuits had not blocked Trump’s new policies, the Pentagon implemented a softer version of the ban last year, allowing for various exceptions for troops already open to their favored gender. However, the status of new members and service members in the transition process remained in abeyance.

The Democrats have widely supported the lifting of the ban, but its status as one of the many amendments added to the NDAA in-house version has ultimately spared it in negotiations with the Senate. Other provisions backed by progressive Democrats – including the cessation of US support for the Saudi Arabia war in Yemen, the curtailment of Trump’s ability to finance a border wall, and the restriction of the release of certain toxic chemicals by the country Military – also failed in the final draft bill. Meanwhile, defense spending, at $ 738 billion, is below the $ 750 billion originally earmarked by the Senate, but $ 5 billion more than what Parliament approved. The most important agreement that the legislator has made in the negotiations was the agreement to grant Federal employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave in exchange for the creation of the promised Trump space force.

Not all Democrats were impressed by the agreement on paid leave, which opened the possibility that progressive Democrats would defy Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) And reject them on the floor of the house.

“Congress must vote against this catastrophic Pentagon empowerment – an account of amazing moral cowardice,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) And Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) In a joint statement. “Congress should have used this law to authorize national defense to stop our endless wars. Instead, this bill does not help stem out-of-control military spending, prevent an unconstitutional war against Iran, limit the poisoning of Americans’ drinking water, or end the obscenity of innocent children in Yemen killed by US bombs. “