The House of Representatives approved an amendment Tuesday night that blocks the Pentagon from using funds to implement President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban.
But the appropriations bill amendment, which passed the Democratic-controlled House 243-183 largely along party lines, is unlikely to be considered by the Republican-led Senate, which has blocked past efforts in its chamber to reverse the ban.
“The President and his administration wrongfully argue that it’s about military readiness and unit cohesion, but these arguments are the same ones that were made to keep the military racially segregated,” Rep. Anthony Brown, a Democrat from Maryland who served in the US Army, said Tuesday during House debate. “My service in an integrated armed forces did not harm readiness, and neither does the service of the more than 14,000 transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.”
He went on to argue, “Transgender service members increase lethality, readiness. They have served honorably and have received prestigious commendations.”
Rep. Ken Calvert, a California Republican, opposed the amendment, arguing that it “risks undermining the readiness of our military at a time when we can least afford it” and argued that the policy is not a ban on service by transgender individuals.
“It carefully balances the readiness needs of the military with the medical needs of transgender individuals who wish to serve,” Calvert said.
Nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the amendment: Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Tom Emmer of Minnesota, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana, Will Hurd of Texas, John Katko of New York and Tom Reed of New York.
The Pentagon’s policy went into effect in April, banning transgender recruits from joining the military.
The ban blocks prospective recruits diagnosed with a condition known as gender dysphoria from serving with limited exceptions. Transgender individuals can serve, so long as they meet the standards of sex they were assigned at birth. The policy allows active transgender troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria before April to serve openly and those who began, or have finished, transitioning.
The House passed a resolution back in March expressing opposition to the Trump administration’s ban, and five Republicans voted with Democrats then.
Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, along with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, introduced legislation in February to reverse Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. There has been no movement on the bill since then. The senators had introduced similar legislation in 2017.
Trump first announced the ban on Twitter in July 2017, arguing that transgender troops in the military would lead to “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”