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House Republicans Continue to Attack LGBTQ+ Community Through Spending Bills

House Republicans Continue to Attack LGBTQ+ Community Through Spending Bills

<p>House Republicans Continue to Attack LGBTQ+ Community Through Spending Bills</p>

They are attaching anti-LGBTQ+ amendments to every appropriations bill that's pending.

Not content with attaching anti-LGBTQ+ amendments to the defense funding bill, far-right Republicans in the U.S. House are doing the same with all every appropriations bill.

These vary across bills, but they include bans on gender-affirming health care; amendments against diversity, equity, and inclusion programs; provisions against enforcement of President Biden’s executive order on how to implement the Supreme Court’s Bostock ruling, with declared anti-LGBTQ+ job discrimination illegal; measures allowing federal contractors to discriminate; restrictions on display of the Pride flag; and objections to the Biden administration’s pending rule endorsing transgender athletes’ participation under their gender identity in most school sports.

“They are pretty much putting the kitchen sink of anti-LGBTQ policies into these bills,” David Stacy, vice president of government affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, tells The Advocate. The good news is that most of these policies won’t be passed into law, but it’s still crucial to be vigilant.

The U.S. House of Representatives, which has a narrow Republican majority, passed the National Defense Authorization Act, with anti-LGBTQ+ amendments, by a largely party-line vote Friday. But the Democratic-majority Senate isn’t expected to approve a bill with these provisions, and the two chambers’ bills have to be the same before the president can sign them into law. The NDAA is considered a policy bill rather than an appropriations bill; it sets funding goals, while appropriations bills actually provide the money. There are 12 appropriations bills.

One for the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services cleared a House Appropriations subcommittee, also Friday, and it contains several anti-transgender amendments as well as bans on funding for DEI programs, Planned Parenthood, and more.

The bill “protects religious freedom and values by stopping Biden’s regulation that would require schools to allow biological boys to compete against girls in women’s sports programs, and prohibiting any federal funding from going toward enforcing gender identity politics or social, hormonal, and surgical interventions to look like the opposite sex,” said a statement from Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, who chairs the subcommittee. The health care portion affects funding through Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare, the latter providing health care for armed forces members and their families.

Last Thursday, the full Appropriations Committee OK’d a funding bill for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs with a gender-affirming care ban and other anti-LGBTQ+ portions, along with anti-abortion and anti-DEI sections. A full House vote will come soon, as will one on the bill funding the Department of Agriculture.

And just Tuesday, the Appropriations Committee amended the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development spending bill to strip funds from three LGBTQ+ community centers. Some Republicans on the committee made bizarre charges that the centers are grooming children for abuse, while Democrats likened the GOP move to terrorism.

Provisions like these are expected to have trouble in the the full House, and they will definitely have trouble in the Senate, according to national media. But even more than anti-LGBTQ+ amendments, the real poison pill in House right-wingers’ bills will be deep cuts to federal spending, Stacy says. Across bills he’s seen, there are cuts of up to 30 percent for some programs. This is “politically suicidal,” he says.

He is optimistic that moderate Republicans, especially those from districts carried by Biden in the last presidential election, will oppose these major cuts, and therefore the bills won’t pass. He notes that the proposed funding reductions would affect HIV and AIDS programs, with disastrous results.

“The bottom line is, most of these bills aren’t going to pass the House,” Stacy says. But LGBTQ+ organizations and citizens have to continue to make their opposition clear, he says, suggesting that citizens contact their members of Congress. Even after anti-LGBTQ+ provisions are voted down, they could resurface later in the process.

The Congressional Equality Caucus, which advocates for the LGBTQ+ community, has also made its opposition to these amendments clear.

“After passing several anti-equality bills through the House this Congress, MAGA Republicans are continuing their relentless attacks on LGBTQI+ people by pushing their anti-equality agenda through the 12 appropriations bills,” Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat and the caucus chair, tells The Advocate via email. “This includes adding riders that restrict access to gender-affirming care, create licenses to discriminate against LGBTQI+ people, and even ban the display of Pride flags in certain federal buildings. These anti-equality politicians are laser focused on attacking minority communities to appeal to the fringes of their caucus and their base instead of focusing on the needs of the American people.”

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