Sen. Ernst Joins GOP Chorus Criticizing Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

Nati Harnik/AP

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) joined a growing list of Republican senators on Wednesday criticizing President Donald Trump’s announced ban on transgender individuals’ military service.

Trump’s decision would reverse an Obama-era move to acknowledge and support openly transgender soldiers, one whose implementation was temporarily delayed by Defense Secretary James Mattis on June 30.

“As a veteran, Sen. Ernst served alongside fellow service members from all different backgrounds and parts of the county,” Ernst’s office said in a statement to TPM. “She believes what is most important is making sure servicemembers can meet the physical training standards, and the willingness to defend our freedoms and way of life.”

“While she believes taxpayers shouldn’t cover the costs associated with a gender reassignment surgery, Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity,” the statement concluded.

Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL), John McCain (R-AZ) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have expressed similar criticisms of Trump’s Wednesday announcement.

The Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble told Iowa’s senior senator, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), about Ernst’s position, and reported that Grassley said he respected Ernst’s opinion.

A proposed amendment to prohibit the Pentagon from paying for servicemembers’ gender reassignment surgeries was recently defeated in the House of Representatives.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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