WASHINGTON — The U.S. House has rejected a proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have banned the U.S. Department of Defense from using federal money to fund the “gender transition” procedures of soldiers who wish to live as the opposite sex.
Over 20 Republicans voted no on Thursday to Amendment 183, presented by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., which had been attached to the $696 billion military spending bill.
“Funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to provide medical treatment (other than mental health treatment) related to gender transition to a person entitled to medical care under chapter 55 of title 10, United States Code,” the amendment simply read.
The Pentagon had agreed to cover the services under the Obama administration, and the military healthcare program Tricare began doing so in October. Hartzler estimated that the so-called therapies and sex-change procedures could cost $1.3 billion over the next 10 years.
“By recruiting and allowing transgender individuals to serve in our military, we are subjecting taxpayers to high medical costs including up to $130,000 per transition surgery, lifetime hormone treatments, and additional surgeries to address the high percentage of individuals who experience complications,” she outlined in a statement. “This policy is costly and a threat to our readiness.”
Hartzler said that the amendment does not prevent those identifying as the opposite sex to join the military or to obtain the desired treatments, but “makes sure our defense resources are allocated in a way that is smart and good for our national defense.”
However, Democrats in the House ardently opposed the measure, asserting that it propels the nation backward instead of forward.
“This amendment will go back in an area where we’re going forward,” stated Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash, according to the Charlotte Observer. “It wouldn’t just impact transgender people who are serving, it would also impact their children. It’s a social agenda that has no business being in the defense bill.”
A handful of Republicans also denounced the move, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, whose daughter identifies as transgender.
“I view it as a personal issue, because as a mom I’m impacted, but it’s an issue of fairness for everyone,” she said. “You don’t have to know someone that’s transgender or have someone in your immediate family to feel this impact. It’s just needlessly hurtful and serves no useful purpose.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif, was one of those who supported Hartzler’s amendment. He believes that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for such a controversial issue.
“We’re $20 trillion dollars in debt, the VA is in shambles, our soldiers aren’t paid enough, and we’re at war with Islamic State, but sure, let’s spend a billion dollars on this. The military restricts people with asthma from serving in the military, but we’re going to pay out billions for people who want to change their sex?” he asked in a social media post following the vote.
The final vote was 214-209. Republicans who voted against Hartzler’s amendment included Darrell Issa of California, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania, Tom Reed of New York, Jack Bergman of Michigan, Mike Coffman of Colorado, and Leonard Lance of New Jersey. The full list may be viewed here.