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Contrary to popular belief, this Republican Congress is managing to get some things done before its current session ends. But the strategy of “do something even if it’s wrong” isn’t the best way to govern.
Thanks to the votes of 24 Republicans, the House rejected an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, proposed by Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, which would have stopped the military from funding treatment relating to gender transition, including sex-change surgery, for members of the military and their families. The vote was 214-209. Under the Obama administration, the military began recognizing “gender dysphoria” as a medical diagnosis and approving payment for all related treatments, even though soldiers recovering from gender “reassignment” surgery would typically be non-deployable for up to 267 days afterwards and those needing ongoing hormone treatments might be non-deployable into the far future.
The amendment would have continued to fund psychological treatment for gender dysphoria. And that makes sense.
According to Congressional aides, Hartzler was contacted by Defense Secretary James Mattis and asked to pull the amendment before it came to a vote. Mattis has said he’s postponing the July 1 deadline to start accepting transgender applicants by six more months to allow further study by military leaders. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter enacted the new policy only last summer; that’s when service members started being forced into training on it, even though no openly transgender recruits have been accepted yet. Female recruits have reportedly had to sit through a PowerPoint presentation on allowing biologically male soldiers into the women’s shower with them.
As long as the amendment did make it to the floor, it seems unbelievable that 24 Republicans voted it down. Six others didn’t vote at all. Of course, one of those was Majority Whip Steve Scalise, but he had a good reason: he’s still recovering from surgery himself, the kind that is definitely not elective.