The House will vote next week on a measure rejecting President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Thursday, setting up a likely new congressional rebuke for the White House.
The announcement comes a week after the Pentagon said it would begin enforcing the transgender troop ban for new applicants starting on April 12. Defense Department officials moved ahead with the change following a January Supreme Court ruling backing Trump’s authority to roll back the previous policy established under President Barack Obama.
The House resolution expresses opposition to the presidential order and urges the Pentagon “to maintain an inclusive policy allowing qualified transgender Americans to enlist and serve in the Armed Forces,” but it would not force the military to change its policy if passed. The measure, authored by Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), has 187 co-sponsors, all Democrats.
“By implementing a ban that ignores basic science, the sworn testimony of military leadership, and mountains of research, our President and his enablers will inject intolerance into our military, demean their sacrifice and cast doubt on our commitment to that promise,” Kennedy said in a written statement. “This resolution says to the thousands of trans servicemembers keeping us safe and every other American that their government not only sees them, hears them, and fights with them, but that they count in this country.”
Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a written statement, “I hope that all Members will come together next week to vote for it and send a resounding message to this Administration that this ban does not reflect our nation’s values and should not be reinstated.”
Opponents of the transgender service ban continue to fight in federal court, but the Trump administration has shown no indication of changing course on the policy — first announced publicly in a July 2017 tweet from the president.
“After consultations with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump wrote. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
The declaration surprised Trump’s defense secretary at the time, Jim Mattis, who was forced to devise a more detailed policy that was later challenged in court.