Overnight Defense: House votes to condemn transgender military ban | 5 Republicans vote against ban | Senate bill would block Turkey getting F-35s over Russia deal
Happy Thursday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Ellen Mitchell, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.
Five Republicans joined every Democrat in backing the measure, which was spearheaded by Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyThis week: Congress set for next stage of Mueller probe fight Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Overnight Defense: Top Marine warns border deployment could hurt readiness | McSally aims for sexual assault reforms in defense bill | House to vote on measure opposing transgender ban | New warning over F-35 sale to Turkey MORE III (D-Mass.), who serves as the chair of the Equality Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force.
The resolution’s passage comes shortly after the administration announced that the requirement for members of the military to serve as the gender they were assigned at birth would be implemented next month, effectively undoing the Obama administration’s policy from June 2016.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday finalized a ruling to lift an injunction against the ban, allowing the policy to take effect April 12 as planned.
The nonbinding resolution — which was co-sponsored by 216 Democrats and GOP Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoHouse fails to override Trump veto on border wall The importance of moderate voters Overnight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O’Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all MORE (N.Y.) — states the reversal in policy is detrimental to “our national security by undermining our ability to recruit and retain the talented personnel” and that “claims attempting to justify President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says wind power doesn’t work because ‘it only blows sometimes’ Fuel standards to prevent overdependence on foreign oil are out of date Trump knocks MSNBC, CNN rankings: ‘Fake News never wins!’ MORE‘s ban are based on flawed scientific and medical assertions.”
The argument: Proponents of the measure have blasted the president’s decision, which was announced in July 2017, as discriminatory and unnecessary.
“We believe that the policy that the Pentagon is putting forward is unfair and based on ignorance and bigotry and will actually harm national security, and we ask the House in this resolution to express the sense of Congress that we oppose this policy from the Pentagon,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Energy: Pentagon details bases at highest risk from climate change | Dems offer bill to bind Trump to Paris accord | Senate GOP blocks climate panel Overnight Defense: Pentagon transfers B for wall over Dem objections | Top general says North Korean activities ‘inconsistent’ with denuclearization | Pentagon details bases at risk from climate change Pentagon transfers B to help build Trump’s wall MORE (D-Wash.) said on the floor ahead of the vote.
“Again, what this policy’s primarily based on is ignorance and bias against the transgender community. The policy [that] is being implemented will make it virtually impossible to let them serve in the military. It’s discrimination. The military last year failed to meet its recruitment quotas. It’s hard to find the people who have the character, the capability and the ability to serve in our military. We have the best military in the history of the world.”
What the policy does: Under the policy, any service member who enlists after April 12 or who has not already come out as transgender would have to serve in the gender they were assigned at birth. Further, any transgender person who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria will not be allowed to join unless a doctor certifies they have been stable in their biological sex for 36 months and they have not transitioned to the gender as which they identify.
Troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria after they join the military can be discharged if they are “unable or unwilling to adhere to all applicable standards, including the standards associated with their biological sex,” a Pentagon memo on the policy says.
The policy grandfathers in currently serving troops who have already come out, meaning they can continue serving openly and receiving medical care.
The administration’s reasoning: The Pentagon argues the policy is not a ban since currently serving transgender troops can continue to do so and other transgender people will be allowed to serve in their biological sex. But transgender troops and their advocates say it is effectively a transgender version of the defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned gay, lesbian and bisexual troops from serving openly.
Supporters of the administration’s decision have made their case by pointing to medical costs and the need for military focus.
What happens now: The resolution is not expected to see any movement in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierHouse to vote on measure opposing transgender military ban Overnight Defense: Senate breaks with Trump on Yemen war | Shanahan hit with ethics complaint over Boeing ties | Pentagon rolls out order to implement transgender ban | Dem chair throws cold water on Space Force budget Hillicon Valley: US threatens to hold intel from Germany over Huawei | GOP senator targets FTC over privacy | Bipartisan bill would beef up ‘internet of things’ security | Privacy groups seize on suspended NSA program | Tesla makes U-turn MORE (D-Calif.) introduced separate legislation that would allow transgender people to serve in the military.
On the House floor, Smith said the Armed Services Committee will also draft legislation addressing the issue.
Breaking party lines: The Republicans who voted with Democrats on the move were Katko and fellow Reps. Trey HollingsworthJoseph (Trey) Albert HollingsworthGOP lawmaker introduces bill to stop revolving door GOP rep unveils resolution seeking congressional term limits Election Countdown: Trump jumps into Ohio special election fight | What to watch in Tennessee primaries | Koch network freezes out Republicans who crossed them | Dead heat in Texas, Nevada Senate races | How celebs are getting into the midterms MORE (Ind.), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHouse passes Paycheck Fairness Act House fails to override Trump veto on border wall Property is a fundamental right that is now being threatened MORE (Texas), Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedTrump’s decision on health care law puts spotlight on Mulvaney House passes Paycheck Fairness Act Push for ‘Medicare for all’ worries centrist Dems MORE (N.Y.) and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHouse passes Paycheck Fairness Act Overnight Defense: Dem chair rejects Pentagon request to use B for border wall | House fails to override Trump veto | Pelosi at AIPAC vows Israel won’t be ‘wedge issue’ House fails to override Trump veto on border wall MORE (Pa.). One Republican, Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashHouse fails to override Trump veto on border wall Property is a fundamental right that is now being threatened GOP lawmaker tells party to ‘do better’ after O’Rourke St. Patrick’s Day post MORE (Mich.), voted present.
SENATE BILL WOULD MAKE TURKEY CHOOSE BETWEEN US FIGHTERS, RUSSIAN AIR DEFENSE: A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill Thursday that would prohibit the United States from transferring F-35 fighter jets to Turkey until Ankara abandons its plans to buy a Russian air defense system.
“Turkey is an important NATO ally and willing partner in addressing a number of U.S. national security priorities,” Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordSenate GOP poised to go ‘nuclear’ on Trump picks GOP senators eye ‘nuclear’ move to change rules on Trump nominees Senate GOP goes down to wire in showdown with Trump MORE (R-Okla.) said in a statement. “It’s concerning that Turkey would seek close defense cooperation with Russia, whose authoritarian ruler seeks to undermine NATO and U.S. interests at every turn.”
Who signed on to the bill and what it does: Lankford introduced the bill with Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenPompeo says US to expand ban on foreign aid to groups that provide or promote abortion Green New Deal vote tests Dem unity in Senate Senate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen MORE (D-N.H.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisControversial Fed pick gains support in GOP Senate Surprise ObamaCare move puts GOP in bind Overnight Health Care — Presented by the American Conservative Union — Trump ObamaCare move puts GOP in tough spot | Dems unveil plan to build up health law | Purdue Pharma settles with Oklahoma in opioid lawsuit MORE (R-N.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDem to reintroduce legislation to curb stock buybacks The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar MORE (D-Md.).
The bill would require the Trump administration to certify that Turkey is not buying a Russian S-400 long-range air-defense system before Ankara can take delivery of an F-35.
The background: The bill is the latest effort from U.S. lawmakers and officials to convince Turkey not to buy Russia’s S-400.
U.S. officials are concerned the S-400 could be used to gather information on the F-35, the most advanced U.S. aircraft. The United States and other NATO allies have also warned the S-400 system will not work with other NATO defense systems, and that Turkey could be subject to U.S. sanctions against those who do business with Russia’s defense industry.
“The S-400 is a computer. The F-35 is a computer. You don’t hook your computer to your adversary’s computer and that’s basically what we would be doing,” Katie Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs, told Reuters earlier this month.
Threats from the US so far: Reuters reported this month that U.S. officials are considering freezing preparations for delivering the F-35 to Turkey should it proceed with the S-400 purchase.
The same day of the report, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States will “have a hard time reconciling” delivery of the F-35 if Turkey follows through on buying the S-400.
Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, head of U.S. European Command, told Congress this month he would recommend that the United States withhold the delivery of the jet if Turkey buys the Russian system.
ON TAP FOR TOMORROW
Iraq’s new speaker of the Council of Representatives Mohammed al-Halbousi will speak on “A New Parliament in Iraq,” at the 11:30 a.m. at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
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