From the Washington Blade -- Now that Congress has returned from August recess, lawmakers are in discussions about a legislative response to thwart President Trump’s ban on transgender military service, according to Capitol Hill sources and LGBT advocates who spoke to the Washington Blade on condition of anonymity.
Action could come in the U.S. Senate as soon as next week when the chamber begins debate on the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill, a major defense policy bill that could be a vehicle for overriding Trump’s directive to the Pentagon to ban transgender people from the armed forces.
As the Washington Post reported, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who championed efforts in 2010 for the legislative repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” are planning an amendment to the defense authorization bill targeting the transgender ban. Meanwhile, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Susan Davis (D-Calif.) are crafting standalone legislation along the same lines.
The plan in the Senate could work despite Republican control. If Collins and the entire Democratic caucus support the measure, 11 more Republicans would be needed to obtain the 60-vote threshold to overcome a likely filibuster. Any number of the Republicans who objected to Trump’s transgender military ban — either the substance or the process — could be candidates, such as Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) or Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).
But one LGBT advocate said even a vote that falls short of the 60-vote requirement would still be helpful from a political standpoint if at least a majority of senators were on the record in opposition to Trump’s transgender military policy.