President Donald Trump’s sudden ban of transgenders serving in the military may have been stratagem aimed at removing obstacles from defense spending bills, Politico reported Wednesday.
A fight between conservative and moderate Republicans over the government paying for gender reassignment surgeries threatened to derail the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), prompting Republicans to lobby the White House to intervene, according to Politico.
“Conservatives were telling [the] White House they didn’t want money in a spending bill to go to transgender health services,” an anonymous White House official told Politico.
Allowing taxpayer money to go towards transgender surgeries in the defense spending package might have weakened the bill’s chances in an already difficult legislative environment.
It’s unclear which members of Congress went around the Department of Defense to the White House, yet all but 24 Republican representatives voted for an amendment banning military funding of gender reassignment surgeries several weeks ago.
The amendment to the NDAA, sponsored by Missouri Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler, was blocked by a group of moderate Republicans, who voted with the entire Democratic caucus to not undo former President Barack Obama 2015 social policy changes to the armed forces. (RELATED: These Are The 24 Republicans Who Think The Pentagon Should Pay For Transgender Surgeries)
“Each dollar needs to be spent to address threats facing our nation,” Hartzler said in a statement after Trump announced the ban. “The costs incurred by funding transgender surgeries and the required additional care it demands should not be the focus of our military resources.”
Trump announced the ban in a series of three tweets Wednesday morning.
Hartzler and many House Republicans were pleased with Trump’s ban. “Our military is the most effective, efficient and well-funded fighting force in the world, and as the president notes, we cannot burden our armed forces with the tremendous costs and disruptions that transgender in the military would entail,” Hartzler said after Trump announced the ban. “With the challenges we are facing across the globe, we are asking the American people to invest their hard-earned money in national defense.”
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