Remorse Code? GOP Changes Tune on Trans Vote

Remorse Code? GOP Changes Tune on Trans Vote

July 17, 2017

When Republicans won control of Congress, the last thing voters thought they'd get was a continuation of Obama's social agenda. So imagine their surprise on Friday when that's exactly what 23 GOP members voted to give them as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In a move that stunned conservatives, almost two dozen House Republicans made the mind-blowing decision to side with the Obama administration on transgender policy so extreme that only 23 percent of the country support it. Even that didn't deter these Republicans, who agreed with liberals that legitimate military needs should take a backseat to taxpayer-funded sex changes.

It was a slap in the face of our military, who, like most Americans, had hoped the GOP would start cleaning up the messes of the last administration -- not making more. Instead, this band of defectors gave the far-Left the help it needed to keep Obama's mission of dismantling the military alive. No one was more frustrated than Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), whose amendment had nothing to do with whether the gender-confused could serve -- but whether taxpayers should be forced to foot the $3.7 billion price tag if they do. Like us, she thinks the last thing the Pentagon should be doing is diverting money from mission-critical training to something as controversial as gender reassignment surgery.

Of course, she didn't think the party she needed to persuade was her own. "It makes no sense to create soldiers who are unable to fight and win our nation's wars and unfair to non-transitioning individuals who must leave their families and deploy in the first place," she argued. Veteran and double-amputee Brian Mast (R-Fla.) made a compelling case for Hartzler's amendment, telling his colleagues, "I've been on the battlefield... I have [veteran] friends who can't get oxygen treatment, who can't get the things they need for their spine, or can't get the best wheelchairs or body armor... This is going to be where we should be spending our money. That should make sense to everybody."

Everyone, it seems, except Republicans like Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), Bill Shuster (Pa.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Barbara Comstock (Va.), and Darrell Issa (Calif.), who inexplicably doomed the measure to defeat, 214-209. Almost immediately, constituents responded. Social media lit up with outrage over Amash's vote and others'. "How does a libertarian like @justinamash justify coercively taxing some people to pay for other people's sex reassignment surgery?" Ryan Anderson asked. Matt Walsh turned up the heat in a fiery back-and-forth with the congressman. "You're disingenuous by adding 'elective,' @justinamash. All transgender surgery is elective and not only medically unnecessary but harmful." Amash tried to dig himself out of the hole, tweeting weakly, "There is no law and has been no legislation requiring taxpayers to pay for transgender surgery in the Armed Forces." Exactly. That's what Vicky's amendment was designed to prevent!

Amash's office was bombarded by criticism, so much so that the Michigan Republican took to Facebook to defend himself. He claimed Defense Secretary James Mattis told him not to vote for the ban. Other members said they received similar calls. "Mattis and the White House urged us not to adopt Hartzler Amendment [and] all the administration wants is three months to review everything." The Defense Department denies that it lobbied against the measure. Obviously, someone isn't telling the truth.

Sensing this might have put a serious dent in his credibility, Amash tried to persuade voters that he would take action if the secretary didn't. "After Sec. Mattis announces the DOD's finalized policy, we can discuss the policy with him, evaluate it, and seek changes if necessary." But that's not realistic given that Mattis will most likely announce his decision at the end of the year as the policy takes full effect. Meanwhile, voters everywhere are up in arms over the betrayal they never saw coming. Now, leaders like Lt. Colonel Allen West question where the GOP can even go from here.

"So, what's next, taxpayer funded cosmetic surgery for troops? We know who the progressive socialists are and what they stand for... The real question now is, what does it mean to be a Republican? What does it mean to be a Republican? Republicans don't know, they are too busy acquiescing, compromising, and appeasing those who would never do the same for them. They are fundamentally confused as to who they are, and that for which they stand. The greater population of America are conservative -- they believe in faith, family, individual liberty, economic freedom, better education opportunities, working hard to care for themselves, and being a strong and secure nation."

Colonel West is right. This policy does nothing to advance military readiness, and this demand will only be followed by another and another and another. Are these Republicans really so naïve as to think that LGBT activists will return the favor come election time? Or that they'll be mollified? Liberals won't be satisfied until they've stripped common decency, faith, and morality from the public square. And these 23 House members are giving them a helping hand.

In my conversations with our friends on the Hill, I've heard that members' offices have been overwhelmed by calls and emails on this issue. Don't stop. There are plenty of strong and courageous House leaders who aren't going to let this issue go. We can't afford to either. FRC Action is on the move in some of these districts with ads letting voters know exactly what these members' priorities are. Do your part. If your congressman is one of the 23, make sure they hear from you:

Justin Amash (Mich.), Jack Bergman (Mich.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Barbara Comstock (Va.), Paul Cook (Calif.), Ryan Costello (Pa.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), John Faso (N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), John Katko (N.Y.), Steve Knight (Calif.), Leonard Lance (N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Tom MacArthur (N.J.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Bill Shuster (Pa.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), and no-show David Valadao (Calif.)

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

A Clot to Think about with Senate Health Bill

July 17, 2017

There's no good time for a health emergency, but for Senate Republicans, John McCain's (R-Ariz.) couldn't have come at a worse one. The longtime senator threw a kink in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) plans when doctors found a dangerous blood clot behind the Arizona senator's eye. And unfortunately for the GOP, the surgery didn't just take McCain out of commission -- it put the new health care bill on hold.

Without a vote to spare on the plan, McConnell said he would "defer consideration" of the measure until McCain recovered. That's an unexpected blow to the GOP's schedule, which was on pace to vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act as early as this week. But even the sick senator made it clear that postponing the debate infinitely isn't an option. "Have no doubt," he said, "Congress must replace Obamacare, which has Arizonans with some of the highest premium increase in the nation and left 14 of Arizona's 15 counties with one provider option on the exchanges this year."

Unfortunately for Republicans, McCain's return isn't the only thing standing in their way. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is taking an unusually long time to produce a score for the new proposal, which only complicates matters for a party desperate to move forward. Like us, they know that the longer this debate drags on, the worse its prospects are. Still, even the bill's detractors -- like Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) -- isn't going to declare the plan dead. "There are a lot of us who have concerns about the [Better Care Reconciliation Act]. But how this would all translate out, I'm not certain. And I never underestimate Leader McConnell's skills."

For now, pro-lifers hopes are still riding on the language, which defunds Planned Parenthood, forces insurers to be more transparent about their plans, and ends Obama's legacy of taxpayer-funded abortion in health care. For those reasons (and more), we must continue pressuring the Senate not to abandon the effort. The time to repeal Obamacare is now! If you haven't contacted your senators (and even if you have), take the time today to give them the push they need to keep fighting. Let's get Americans out of the abortion business, once and for all.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

A Thorne in the Side of Religious Liberty

July 17, 2017

Graduation may be too late to expel students, but it's never too late to expel faith! That's what Indiana's Elkhart Community Schools have decided after a toothless threat from the activists at the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). After a single complaint, FFRF fired off a typical letter to Elkhart administrators, warning that there'd be consequences if the district didn't stop the practice of prayers at graduation. Desperate to avoid a controversy, District Counsel Chief of Staff Douglas Thorne capitulated almost immediately.

In a statement, he groveled to FFRF, vowing to stop students from invoking God at the year-end ceremonies. "The Elkhart Community Schools understand our obligation to maintain a status of neutrality on matters related to religious belief, and to avoid actions which might be construed as endorsement of any particular religious beliefs. Our obligation to maintain a status of religious neutrality is communicated to our staff at all levels on a regular basis."

Not only did Thorne fail to consult the Constitution, he forgot to check state law! Just this month, a law went into effect in Indiana that gives students the same rights the school is now denying. Thanks to Governor Eric Holcomb (R) and the state's legislators, Indiana is putting the cross back in the Crossroads of America. Under the new statute, "public school students may pray or engage in religious activities or religious expression before, during, and after the school day in the same manner to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities or expression."

As most legislators said at the time, the law only served to protect the rights that children already had. Even Democrats like state Rep. John Bartlett sponsored the bill, insisting that they wanted to give inner-city kids "the hope of God" at a time when gangs and crime are at an all-time high. "My intent was to give our children an opportunity to pray -- not make it mandatory," he told the idea's few critics. Tired of the lawsuits and wasted court time, both parties put their support behind the measure, which sailed through the legislature.

Unfortunately, word of the law must not have filtered down to districts like Elkhart, where school officials are still eager to surrender to the Left's faith-hostile demands. "This was a statement legislators wanted to make," one leader said of the bill. It's time Indiana's administrators heeded it.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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