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By Jonah Bennett
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed Republicans for trying to “rip away” health care for transgender service members.
In a statement Thursday, Pelosi said the “disgusting” attempt to restrict funds from being used to provide gender transition treatments is “unprecedented, unacceptable and undermines our national security.”
“Republicans should be ashamed: instead of protecting the men and women who risk their lives to defend our freedoms, they are fighting to rip away the health care of thousands of brave service members,” Pelosi said in a statement. “This cowardly Republican amendment targeting transgender men and women in uniform effectively bans these patriotic Americans from serving their country.”
Missouri GOP Rep. Vicky Hartzler filed an amendment to the House National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which successfully moved through the Rules Committee.
If passed, the bill would entail that “funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to provide medical treatment (other than mental health treatment) related to gender transition to a person entitled to medical care.”
While Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis attempted to block the amendment moving to the floor, the Rules Committee struck down Polis’ attempt.
Polis serves as the co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus.
The reason for the amendment is that Hartzler believes pro-transgender policies reduce military readiness.
“Military service is a privilege, not a right,” Hartzler said in June. “It is predicated on winning wars and defeating the enemy. All decisions on personnel and funding should be made with this in mind.”
For Pelosi, integrating transgender service members, which includes providing funds for transition treatments, is the continuation of the successful effort to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2010.
Pro-LGBT military organizations reacted in a similar way to Pelosi, calling the NDAA amendment “vile” and “vicious.”
“To be clear, this vile amendment is a vicious attack on service members who are sacrificing so much and putting their lives on the line for our country,” said American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “As if that’s not outrageous enough, it would also rip away the medically necessary health care of transgender family members. This is vitally important care that military families are already receiving, and these medical decisions should be left to medical professionals and their patients. This legislative assault on military families absolutely must be stopped. We urge members of Congress to reject this cruel proposal.”
“We unequivocally condemn Harztler’s attempt at this amendment,” said Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe-SLDN. “This amendment is a mean-spirited, unconstitutional attempt to impede the recruitment of openly transgender individuals who want to serve their country.
Former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter repealed the ban on transgenders serving openly in the military in June 2016.