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House GOP Kills Bill That Would Uphold Protections for LGBT Federal Contractors

House GOP Kills Bill That Would Uphold Protections for LGBT Federal Contractors

Rep. Sean Maloney
Rep. Sean Maloney

House Republicans voted down an energy spending measure that included an amendment that prohibited discrimination against LGBT federal contractors.


House Republicans killed an energy and water spending bill on Thursday after Democrats added an amendment that included a ban on discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation by companies contracting with the federal government.

The 305-112 vote quashed the bill, which does not bode well for the dozen remaining spending bills Republicans have in the upcoming fiscal year, reports The Washington Post.

The House of Representatives had voted to pass the bill Wednesday night. This was the House's second referendum on the issue of workplace protections for LGBT people in a week -- after House Republicans voted to kill the same measure, attached to a different appropriations bill, just days earlier.

Sponsored by New York Rep. Sean Maloney, the nondiscrimination provision passed by a 223-195 vote Wednesday. Democrats celebrated, believing the full bill would pass the house. "After all of the division last week, it's refreshing to see so many friends, colleagues from both sides of the aisle support equality," Maloney, who is gay, tweeted following the measure's passage on Wednesday.

Previously, the LGBT nondiscrimination clause had been voted down by House Republicans. Originally, Maloney's legislation was set to pass by a nine-vote margin. House Republicans, however, killed the measure after a group opposed to the bill flipped enough votes to keep it from passing. As the clock ran down on the legislation, the last-minute maneuver drew boos and cries of "Shame!" on the House floor. The measure failed by a 213-212 vote.

The GOP "snatched discrimination from the jaws of equality," Maloney told the Associated Press.

Maloney further explained that the House would "have to decide whether they want to keep rigging votes, in which case we won't be able to make the amendment, because they can rig the process again," he told USA Today. He continued, "What we've shown is that we have the support and will win. There are only two choices here -- keep rigging the votes and promote discrimination, or open up the process and let the House vote for equality."

After the reversal, House Speaker Paul Ryan would initially claim that he didn't know if House Republicans were "pressured" to change their votes. "This is federalism; the states should do this," Ryan told the press. "The federal government shouldn't stick its nose in its business."

Ryan's argument, however, would later change. The speaker contended that conservatives weren't sure if they knew what the bill would really entail. "A lot of folks didn't know what they were voting on," Ryan told The Washington Post. "There was a real concern that this was going to jeopardize critical funding for our Veterans Administration and the military."

"A lot of people thought it was about bathrooms," he further claimed.

Maloney responded that the nondiscrimination measure wasn't complicated. "It said you can't take taxpayer dollars and fire people just for being gay," he said during the House debate.

The measure would have upheld an earlier executive order from President Obama, which went into effect in April 2015, that prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

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