Report: Senators File Amendment To Delay Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

Tom Williams/CQPHO

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have filed an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to delay implementation of the ban ordered by President Donald Trump of transgender people serving in the military, the Hill reported Monday.

The publication reported that the amendment would delay implementation of the ban until Spring 2018, 60 days after Secretary of Defense James Mattis is scheduled to conclude his review of some aspects of Trump’s decision.

Details of the amendment are unclear — neither Gillibrand’s nor Collins’ office responded to TPM’s requests for comment. Rachel Hoff, communications director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, told TPM in an email: “We are not commenting on amendments at this stage.”

In July, Trump tweeted that “the United States Government will not accept or allow […] Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” However, the order was only formally accepted by military leadership a month later, when it was issued in non-tweet form.

Trump ordered the military to cease accepting openly transgender people for service, and to stop paying for medical procedures related to gender transition. However, he allowed Mattis some leeway to evaluate how to treat currently serving transgender troops, who were allowed to serve openly near the end of the Obama administration.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Gillibrand and Collins’ amendment would “try to protect the transgender troops.” On Saturday, it characterized the amendment as an attempt to “roll back” and “counter” Trump’s order.

On Friday, the Washington Examiner reported that the amendment “would force the Pentagon to complete a six-month study on transgender recruiting that it has shelved before it makes any personnel policy changes.”

Still, an unnamed Capitol Hill source told the Washington Blade the same day that “a determination on content of the amendment hasn’t been made final, although the more modest proposal to reverse the Trump ban seems more likely as opposed to a military civil rights bill.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the chief legislator responsible for the massive military planning and spending bill, told the Post Saturday of the amendment that “right now it’s not necessary.”

Gillibrand promised on Aug. 24 that she would introduce legislation to counter the ban.

McCain and Collins were among the many Republican lawmakers who objected to the nature or content of Trump’s ban, especially that it interrupted the military’s own study of transgender troops.