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tv   U.S. House of Representatives House Debate on Transgender Military Service...  CSPAN  March 28, 2019 5:35pm-6:40pm EDT

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>> watch coverage of the virginia festival of the book saturday at 1:00 p.m. eastern. on book tv on c-span2. >> sunday night on q&a. supreme court reporter talks about her latest book "the chief: a biographer of chief justice john roberts." >> john roberts controls. however john roberts votes now, that anthony kennedy is gone, he's going to determine the law of the land. so, the liberals want him to come over, inch over a little bit, but the conservatives are trying to hold him back where he always was. meanwhile, you have this chief justice declaring there's no such thing as an obama judge. there's no such thing as a trump judge. there's no such thing as a bush judge. he wants to project a bench that's not political when they
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all have their agendas of sorts. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> earlier today, the house debated a resolution that opposes president trump's ban on transgender people from serving in the military. the resolution passed by a vote of 238-185. with five republicans voting in favor. and justin amash of michigan voting present. here's the debate from the house floor which ran about an hour. house resolution 124. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. smith: mr. speaker, i yield myself five minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. smith: thank you. this resolution is very straightforward. the department of defense, in cooperation with the white house, recently issued a policy which will be implemented in a couple of weeks that would effectively bar transgender people from being able to serve in the military. we have this resolution to reject that policy. it's that simple.
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that straightforward. 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. again, what this policy's primarily based on is ignorance and bias against the transgender community. the policy 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. we need high-qualified people to serve. and to single out a particular group of people to discriminate against them and say they cannot serve, not because they can't meet the qualifications, it's not because they can't run fast
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enough or shoot straight enough or work hard enough to be a member of the military, but because of something that literally has nothing to do with their ability to do their job is bad for national security and unfair discrimination. now, we have heard a lot from people about how difficult it is for unit cohesion to have transgender in the military. whole bunch of arguments. the only problem with that is the military leaders who have actually been responsible for this -- and i am going to read one quote. there are many and some of my colleagues will say it as well, but army chief of staff millie who is about to become the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said last year, there are precisely zero reports of issues of cohesion, discipline, or morale as a result of transgender people serving. so there is no issue in terms of readiness despite what the proponents of this policy will say. it is discrimination, fair and simple, and it is unnecessary. now, you will also hear opponents say, well, the policy doesn't ban transgender people
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from serving. under certain circumstances they can. but those circumstances, as described, are so limiting and restricting and worst of all, as i'll explain in a minute, in certain parts it allows them to serve only if they're willing to deny who they are and that amounts to a ban. if you cannot be who you are and serve in the military, then that is a choice that nobody should have to make. and let's start with the fact that right now, under this policy, anyone who wants to join the military, if they have transitioned to a different gender, either gone through the surgery or began hormone therapy, this policy says you cannot join. now, again, this doesn't say anything about their fitness to serve, in terms of their physical ability or anything. if you had transition surgery or gone through hormone therapy you are barred from serving. but worse than that, the people who are already in the military who are transgender who, to a certain extent, are
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grandfathered in, in many different places throughout this policy it says over and over again that they have to serve in their biological sex. now, a lot of people go, what the heck does that mean? but that gets at the essence, at the very heart what it means to be transgender. and this is not something that is just in people's minds. it is a physiological condition that people are born into in which they decide they are more comfortable being in the opposite gender. and that's one of the cornerstone difficulties that all of these people have to go through, what am i, what gender do i want to be? and working with therapists, working with other people they make that determination. i know who i am and this is who i am going to be. this policy says, sorry, we don't care what your doctor says. you cannot be the gender that you know that you are. you have to deny who you are in order to stay in the military. in many places throughout this policy, that is a consistent theme and points out what is so totally and completely wrong about this policy.
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now, people, you've also heard undoubtedly, there are higher health care costs for people who are transgender. there are a number of studies out that show that actually isn't true. yes, health care expense is part of people who serve in the military, and regrettably, people who join the military have different levels of health care that we have to pick up. there is no evidence that this will be an increase in cost. and we know this is not about cost because one of the first points i made how you are not going to be able allowed to join the military even if you've already gone through transition therapy, transition surgery or hormone therapy and if you are done with that and there is no additional medical cost to come, this policy says you are barred and banned from joining the military. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. smith: i yield myself an additional 15 seconds. which makes it perfectly clear this policy is unfair discrimination based on bigotry
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and ignorance and i urge this house to reject it. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized -- from texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. thornberry: mr. speaker, this resolution is a sense of congress resolution that makes no change whatsoever in law or policy. it's a messaging bill. rather than legislation that actually does something on a substantive issue. so one may ask, well, why bother opposing a bill that doesn't do anything? well, i got a couple of answers. part of the answer to me is that we normally do not bring isolated issues in the jurisdiction of the armed services committee to the floor because pasht of the reason that
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-- part of the reason that a national defense authorization bill has been signed into law every year for 58 straight years under presidents of both parties and congresses of both parties is that we try to look at national security as a whole when as it relates to the department of defense. so there have been a few isolated instances where something needed immediate attention, but generally we try to look at the whole, not bring isolated issues to the floor. i worry that doing so, even with a messaging bill, undermines that bipartisan approach that has been so successful. another part of the reason, mr. speaker, is that we also normally try to keep our troops above and beyond politics, and so bringing a messaging bill that does nothing to law or policy also threatens to undermine that and i worry about that.
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on its face, the resolution, the messaging bill that's before us includes a number of statements that are just flat wrong. it says that president trump reversed the prior policy on transgender individuals in a tweet, but in fact, well before any presidential tweet, secretary of defense mattis had put a delay on implementation of the policy that had previously been announced so there could be a six-month review. and there was a six-month review with experts, with uniform, civilian people, from all the services, with medical experts, a whole variety of folks. and it is serious and thoughtful. despite some of the characterizations that have been made from time to time, i recommend that members actually read it, because i think they will be impressed. they may not agree with all of
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the recommendations but they'll see the serious and thoughtful approach that the department took to this issue, and as a result of this review, the previous policy was modified. it didn't go back to the way it was, but, again, those details are in the report. the resolution before us today says that the mattis policy is a ban. it's not. and the d.c. circuit court of appeals found on january 4, 2019, that it is factually inaccurate to call it a blanket ban. in reversing the lower court, the court of appeals said, quote, the district court made an erroneous finding that the mattis plan was the equivalent of a blanket ban on transgender service, end quote. this resolution before us says that there is a global medical consensus on transgender care, but the world professional association for transgender health says that they offer
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flexible clinical guidelines which cannot possibly reflect all the differences and situations which exist. mr. speaker, just turning to the substance of the matter for a second, to me the heart of the issue is contained in the very first sentence to the department report, which was issued february, 2018. the first sentence says, it is a bedrock principle of the department of defense that any eligible individual who can meet the high standards for military service, without special accommodations, should be permitted to serve. any eligible individual who can meet the standards without special accommodation should be permitted to serve. that's what i believe, mr. speaker. i think that's what this policy
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attempts to achieve. now, it is a fair question -- point to say, well, it went too far this way. it didn't go far enough this way. we can have those substantive, serious debates in an appropriate time and place, but a messaging bill is not going to get that job done. i would say, finally, mr. speaker, that our committee ard day before yesterday a reminder that only 29% of americans age 17 to 25 are eligible for military service. only 29% meet the physical, mental, and legal requirements to be eligible for military service, even if they want to. now, that means 71% are not eligible for whatever reason. now, there can be and maybe there should be a debate that the standards are too high, that we need to lower the standards, we need to make some changes in the standards so that more
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people are eligible, but the point is our view of military service is that anyone who meets those standards should be allowed to serve. if someone can't meet those standards, then they are not able to serve. they can serve in a different way but not in military service. i think, again, mr. speaker, if we were to really be discussing the substance of the issue rather than a messaging bill, then we could talk about the high standards for military service without special accommodation, and there would be a substantive discussion. that's not what we're doing today. it's a messaging bill, and that's too bad because there are serious issues that need to be discussed. i would reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from washington is
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recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. just briefly, i will agree, this is a messaging bill, and the message is, this is a bad policy. that is what the house is doing. i will also agree, when it comes to crafting the right policy in this area it should be done in committee and it will be done in committee. that's why we didn't bring that out here on the floor. it's important for the house of representatives to make it clear to say how wrong we think this policy is. i yield three minutes to the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. kennedy. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. . mr. kennedy: mr. speaker, equal has always been our nation's north star. endowed by our creator, inscribed by everyson in the declaration of independence. engraved above the doors of the highest court in our land. codified in our constitution after a war tore our country apart.
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it is that pursuit of equality journey uality, that for a more perfect union that sets america apart. at times we have stumbled, enslaved men, women, and children because of the color of their skin. we have segregated those same families in the first breadth of their freedom. we have stigmatized fellow americans based on their race, their ancestry, their god. the nation of their birth, the hand that they hold, and the very identity. some willing to die for our freedom, fought wars, only to meet a government that offered them a handshake and they returned to second class citizenship. today this house has a chance to not repeat the mistakes of
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our past. to move one step closer to that sacred promise by telling brave trans men and women in uniform that they can can can cannot be banned from military -- that cannot be manned from military service because of who they are. targeted discrimination against transgender americans. supporters will say otherwise. it's about unit cohesion, they say. except for the fact that the five chiefs of staff for the military branches have testified that they are aware of exactly zero instances of a transgender service member negatively impacting discipline or morale. it would degrade our military, they say. except that 56 retired generals and flag officers told us that it is the ban that would degrade readiness, quote, even
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more than the failed "don't ask, don't tell" policy did. it's science, they say. except the department of defense relied on data nearly half a century old and ignored plenty of other studies. just ask the american medical association, american psychology association, american psychiatric association. it's about cost, they say. except that the military spends 10 times more annually on ewreck tile dysfunction medication that we have on transrelated care in the last three years combined. it's not a ban, they say. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. smith: i yield an additional one minute. mr. kennedy: to ask exactly what this ban means. mr. speaker n. a country that celebrates freedom -- mr. speaker, in a country that celebrates freedom, this policy tells our service members they
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don't have the freedom who they are. where is the freedom in that? i ask all members of the house to support this resolution. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from washington -- texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, i yield five minutes to the gentlelady from missouri, mrs. hartzler. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman is recognized for five minutes. mrs. hartzler: thank you, mr. speaker. let me tell but a sharp young patriot from my district. she worked hard, earned straight a's and was accepted into law school to join the j.a.g. corps. she, however, was denied entry into the military because she had bunions on her feet. she is an amazing woman and a long distance runner, but d.o.d.'s policy was clear that due to the risk of future surgery she could potentially be temporarily undeployable and so was denied entrance into military service. she did not meet the physical,
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mental medical standards. another constituent was denied service because had he asthma. he, too, wanted to serve his country but the health risks outweighed the benefits to the military. he did not meet the physical mental medical standards. d.o.d.'s military accession standards state individuals must be free of medical conditions or physical defects that may require excessive time loss from duty for necessary treatment or hospitalization. our all voluntary military is the greatest military force in the world and we must allow it, we must allow it to make the best medical and military judgment about what medical conditions should qualify or disqualify an individual from serving. we should not carve out exceptions for an entire population. military service is a privilege, not a right. that is why secretary mattis reviewed and issued a new
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policy on transgender service and the medical condition of gender dysphoria. the policy is not a ban. it allows transgender service members to serve in their biological sex. the mattis policy does not kick anyone out of the military for being transgender, nor does it give preferential treatment to transgender persons. all persons unless grandfathered or granted a waiver must serve in their birth gender. it is a fair policy. allowing transgender individuals to serve openly as long as they are willing to serve in the biological sex and they can can can meet the medical behavioral standards. this resolution we're voting on today is riddled with inaccuracies. first as i just stated the policy is not a ban. second, it claims there is a global medical consensus that transgender care is effective, safe, and reliable. that is not true. rand, the mayo clinic, c.m.s.,
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and others have all determined that there is not enough quality evidence to be able to say that. and there are valid concerns. there are costs as well. the department of defense announced already that they have spent $8 million on those individuals who have identified as transgender last year and that money has been spent on psycho therapy, sex change operations, and that's money that could have been spent on bullets, body armors for our troops. and third, the resolution claims there is not an adverse effect on military readiness. this is false. the individual readiness of those undergoing treatment for gender dysphoria will be impacted. it takes over 260 days to recover from the surgery. individual readiness directly impacts the readiness of our forces. so the diagnosis and treatment for transgender personnel takes them away from their jobs for an indeterminant amount of time. this lost deployment time means someone lells have to step forward and go in their place.
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this is unfair. the military has valid reasons for excluding people with certain medical conditions from service. it is not the job of congress to dictate what medical conditions the military should accept. we should not degrade the efficiency and lethality of our armed forces. this resolution is riddled with false claims and i urge my colleagues to oppose its passage. i yield back. the eaker pro tempore: gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i'm pleased to yield one minute to the speaker of the house, ms. pelosi. the speaker pro tempore: the speaker is recognized for one minute. the speaker: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank the distinguished chairman for yielding time and really for his leadership on this very important issue as to who we're as a nation. how we honor our oath to protect and defend the american
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people. in doing so recognizing the contribution of all who want to o serve our country. i want to thank you -- who want to serve our country. i want to thank you, adam smith, for your leadership. i also want to acknowledge our leadership our colleague, joe kennedy, sponsor of this legislation, for his relentless and rship, his forming and transforming the transgender caucus and making clear in our policy that we respect the dignity and worth of every person. the men and women who step forward to serve in the u.s. military are patriots, all of them. people of great strength and courage who sacrifice -- whose sacrifice keeps us safe. we owe those heroes our most humble gratitude and steadfast support. i want to thank our transfriends for their service, their courage, their patriotism in serving our country.
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thank you. instead of honoring their service, the president continues to insist on his cruel transgender service member ban. this is an act of cruelty. let us all salute again congressman joe kennedy, a champion for equality, fairness, and dignity in this congress for his firm moral leadership on this resolution to oppose the president's bigoted ban. this resolution is a resolution that our distinguished chairman, mr. smith, and our colleague, joe kennedy, are putting forth is bipartisan because protecting transgender service members is a matter of patriotism and it transcends politics. the president's ban is cruel and arbitrary, a decision designed to humiliate the transgender americans horrificing and giving their lives for the united states of america. there is no moral justification
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for this ban which violates every value of our american democracy and betrays our fundamental belief in fairness, dignity, and respect. there is no medical justification for this ban which the american medical association, the american psychlogical association, and the american psychiatric association all oppose. and there is no military justification for this ban which would undermine our military readiness and make america less strong and safe and that is according to our own military. after the president's first retired his band, 56 generals and flag officers issued a statement asserting that the ban would create -- would cause -- these are their words, quote, would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission
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critical talent, and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as nontransgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrade or disobeying policy. as a result, they go on to say, the proposed ban would degrade readiness even more than the failed "don't ask, don't tell" policy. other military leaders have spoken out to denounce this ban. former joint chiefs of staff mike mullin. army chief of staff, general mark kelly, commander commandant of the united states coast guard, carl shultz, chief of naval operations, admiral john richardson, commandant of the marine corps, general robert neller. yet the president has chosen to ignore the expertise of these military leaders, making clear the president has done that prejudice not patriotism drives his decisions.
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e president's ban, again, is cruel. no one with the strength and bravery to serve in the u.s. military should be turned away because of who they are. the house will continue to fight this discriminatory action which has no place in our country. we will never allow hate and prejudice to dictate our national security. i hope we have a resounding yes vote to reject the president's ban today. again, i thank our distinguished chairman, mr. smith, our colleague, joe kennedy for his leadership and courage and yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: members are reminded to refrain from engaging in personalities towards the president. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: mr. speaker, i'll reserve the balance of our time. mr. smith: at some point someone has to tell me what
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engaging in personalities means. i have been serving for a long time and still don't know. with that i yield two minutes to the gentlelady from california, mrs. davis. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman is recognized for two minutes. mrs. davis: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, i rise today in solidarity with our transgender service members and to stand against president trump's proposed ban of transgender people serving in the military. transgender troops have been serving openly since 2016, at home, overseas, and in combat zones without incident. when i met with transgender service members last month, i was impressed to learn that by serving openly, i want to make a note of that, by serving openly, the quality of their service improved. in fact, the obstacles, there are many obstacles, mr. speaker, the obstacles they have overcome informed their greater ability to do their job
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. their impressive records speak for themselves. and there is no doubt that each of the service members i met with have served their country with distinction. already stated, this ban is blatant discrimination, poorly disguised as concerns over readiness, unit cohesion, and medical costs associated with transitioning. we already know that there had been zero reports of issues regarding unit morale or cohesion since the ban was lifted in 2016. a fact that has been supported by the chief of staff of every service. the cost is to have minimal impact on the military's health care budget. this is misinformation, misinformation to disqualify capable, qualified people from
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service to their country. at a time when the army is meet recruitment goals and the navy and air force opted to lower their quota in order to reach their own recruitment goals, we cannot be turning away dedicated, able-bodied recruits simply because they happen to be transgender. yield back my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: mr. speaker, i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: i yield two minutes to the gentlewoman from california, ms. speier. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman is recognized for two minutes. ms. speier: thank you, mr. chairman. i rise today to support this resolution with vigor. last month, the subcommittee of military personnel, within the armed services committee, held a hearing. it was the first time in the history of this congress that five transgender members of the military were allowed to testify. four of them are transfemale. one of them is transmale.
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all five of them have served our country with distinction. all five of them have served more than 12 years in the military. one of them is a west point graduate. all of them have served either in iraq, afghanistan, multiple eployments, and in submarine service. and to the service member, all i saw was pride to be in the military, pride to serve their country, pride to put themselves on the line. the testimony from the administration was like a twisted pretzel. they offered a weak and dithering defense of their cruel policy. two things became clear at this hearing. first, the administration policy is a ban. make no mistake about that. those who are in the military and serving as transgender can
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continue to do so. no one can come into the military who is transgender. if you are in the military and transgender and have not identified, you cannot identify. so it is a ban. stelleck said it best. they can seek care transgender or not. if the policy changes, soldiers will no longer seek care because if you say you are transand get gender disforia, you are ineligible and will be terminated. the policy is a solution in search of a problem. worse, it discriminates against our service members. second, the hearing demonstrated resoundingly that the last 2 1/2 years of open service have been unequivocally successful. and with that, mr. chairman, mr. speaker, let me say transgender service members have been there
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for us. it's time for us to be there for them. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman's time has expired. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: mr. speaker, i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: i yield one minute to the distinguished majority leader, mr. hoyer. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland is recognized for one minute. mr. hoyer: i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. hoyer: i thank the chairman for yielding. i thank the ranking member for his service and his leadership as chairman. i would urge all members to reject the president's executive order and to support this resolution. mr. speaker, i rise in strong support of the resolution, introduced by my friend, the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. kennedy.
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his resolution simply states that millions and millions of americans know it to be true, that the trump administration's ban on transgender people serving their country in our ilitary is discriminatory. it reflects bias. it reflects prejudice. indeed, it reflects bigotry. martin luther king tried to teach us that what we said in the declaration of independence we ought to live out. he said that all of us -- and he certainly would have included women, as we did yesterday in our pay equality act -- are created equal in the image of god. martin luther king said we ought to judge one another on the
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ontent of our character. the president's order does not do that. the president's order is based prejudiced view of somebody because of a distinction that is not the content of their character nor the quality of their performance. i was proud to be the sponsor of and brought to this floor as majority leader the repeal of the don't-ask, don't-tell legislation. at has enhanced our national security, not diminished it. the president's resolution states what millions and
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millions of americans know to be true, the trarbgs' ban on transgender people -- the trump administration's ban on transgender people serving in our military is discriminatory. it denigrates the service of patriotic americans. at is the facet of their character. they are patriotic and they want judgese, and the service them able to do so. this resolution, millions of americans understand, undermines our national defense at a time of serious global threats. and this resolution rightfully calls on the trump administration not to implement uch a ban on april 12. to do so will be a blow to our country and the principles it represents. let me remind my colleagues that
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there was a time when we said african-americans ought not to serve with white americans together because that would undermine morale and undermine .he security of our country that was a manifestation of prejudice and bigotry, not of ntellectual honesty. content of character. have we not yet learned that lesson? are we not big enough to live out the premise of all men and ?omen are created equal this resolution seeks to redeem the best of america's principles
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, not the worst of our discriminatory past. i was proud to bring legislation to the floor as majority leader that ended don't-ask, don't-tell and it was overwhelmingly supported in this house and in the senate and passed. it has been a benefit, not a detriment. in the years since we've seen our military strengthen by the open service of many lgbt americans that have helped advance our national security interests around the world. to say transgender service members in uniform that they must leave their units, not because they're not performing well, not because they're not needed, but because of who they are, not the content of their character, not their service, not their performance, but because of who they are.
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this would be a shameful action for our country and deprive of us of their talent and contributions. to deny transgender americans the opportunity to put on that uniform and wear the flag of the country, as i do every day, they wish to serve with me, would be to diminish that flag, that declaration of independence, that constitution of the united .tates of which we are so proud in this colleagues a y will join in sending clear message that the house, not republicans, democrats, but the house, the people's house reflects the values, the service and patriotism of our
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ransgender fellow americans. let us today reflect the best of of ourues, not the worst values. pass this resolution. make america proud of its declaration of independence and its constitution and of martin luther king jr.'s admonition to make our judgments based upon content of character, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: mr. speaker, i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you. i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from california, mr. carbajal.
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the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized for two minutes. mr. carbajal: thank you, mr. speaker. as a veteran, i rise in support of this resolution. when this country first debated the possibility of african-americans, women, or lgbt people serving in our military, the same doubts, the same report, and the same concerns were raised regarding their service. one of these misleading claims is that allowing transindividuals to serve could -- trans individuals to serve could harm our military ready. mr. speaker, allowing patriotic americans who are willing, capable, and ready to serve their country does not harm readiness. i'll tell you what does. diverting military personnel and billions of dollars in military construction funding to build an
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unnecessary wall to respond to a nonfabricated military emergency. i want to ask my colleagues who support this shameful service ban if they believe they have the right to deny an individual their right to be who they are, to limit opportunities because of their gender identity. are these the values america was founded upon? we as a nation are much better than this. during the repeal of don't-ask, don't-tell, critics invoked fear upon america saying it would disrupt unit morale and readiness. today, nine years later, we have the most powerful and capable military in the world. for almost three years, transgender troops have been able to serve openly. during that time, there has been no evidence of lack of military
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readiness or unit cohesion. unfortunately, in return for their service, we are requiring they suppress their identity. this is absolutely unacceptable and discriminatory. i believe former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general dempsey responded best when he stated, the service of the men and women who volunteer, who meet our standards of service is a blessing, not a burden. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: mr. speaker, i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from maryland, mr. brown. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland is recognized for two minutes. mr. brown: mr. speaker, i rise to express my vehement opposition to banning service in the armed services by openly transgender individuals because the trump administration considers transgender identity
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to be some medically disqualifying condition. gender identity is not a medical condition. it's who we are as individuals. since president truman desegregated the military, we tore down barriers to the equal treatment and opportunity of every american to serve. women now serve in combat roles, defending our nation as rangers, infantryman and submariners. gay, lesbian and bisexual americans serve our country openly and with distinction. in 2016, the pentagon lifted the ban on transgender americans, allowing them to serve without having to hide their true identity. the fact that thousands of transgender service members are currently serving, meeting, and exceeding standards, are deployed worldwide speaks volumes about their dedication and contributions to our nation. we need their skills, their experience, their courage, and their patriotism. in 1948, many americans agreed that racial segregation in the
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armed forces was right, but history shows all of us today that they were wrong. former defense secretary gates said no aspect of black americans' quest for justice and equality under the law has been nobler than what has been called the fight for the right to fight. my 30 years in the army leaves me to believe that all americans who want to serve, who can meet our standards should be given the right to fight. my deep belief is shared by general dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, who reiterated that very belief to me just two days ago. we have an obligation to allow transgender americans the right to fight for our nation. we cannot, mr. speaker, settle for this discriminatory policy. i yield back. . the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: i continue to referee:. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington is
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recognized. mr. smith: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from california, mr. cisneros. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. cisneros: thank you, mr. speaker. i want to thank mr. kennedy for his leadership on this issue and members and staff of the house armed services committee for help bringing this important resolution to the house floor. i served in the navy during the time of don't-ask, don't-tell. too many were forced to live their lives in secret, unable to be true to themselves. in 2016, transgender service members were allowed to serve openly in the united states military. individuals like lieutenant commander blake drummond who is still currently on active duty and deployed 11 times. during his testimony in the military personnel subcommittee, he stated that his transition meant that he was no longer compartmentalizing parts of his life. he also stated that his decision to transition made him a better officer and better leader. he has proven it by receiving the navy's award given to the navy's top 134r50eu corps
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officers. my support for lieutenant commander drummond and all transgender service members is unequivocal. they have sworn tremendous courage and why i fight for inclusion and equality for the lgbtq community. the president's policy is taking not only our military but our country backwards. it is unnecessary and purely discriminatory action against a group of individuals who want to do nothing more than serve their country and disgusting attack on a community that he once swore to protect. he's attacking service members who have already proven their ability to meet strategic needs and pose no risk to unit cohesion or military readiness. as far as i'm concerned, any person who has the courage, spirit, and commitment to serve our country in uniform when so many choose not to should be allowed to do so. i will vote to pass this resolution and unlike the president i will continue to advocate for and protect our lgbtq community.
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i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote in support of this resolution and denounce the president's hateful policy towards our service members. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: members are reminded to refrain from engaging in personalities toward the president. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: mr. speaker, i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from new york, mr. nadler. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is recognized for two minutes. mr. nadler: i thank the gentleman for yielding. mr. speaker, i rise today in strong support of this resolution and in opposition to the administration's ban on openly transgender individuals in the armed services. throughout history, each time we have expand the armed services to better reflect the diversity of our generation. the same tired arguments are brought back. any individual within the new group, regardless of their ability, is unfit to serve and disrupt unit cohesion. we heard these arguments with respect to black and latino
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men, women and gays, lesbian, and bisexuals. we know that's untrue. there are no issues with transgender individuals serving in the military. you don't have to take my word for it, the service chiefs of all five branches of our military have testified there have been zero instances of .ransgender service members attacking transgender individuals in all areas of america life is cruel and demoral. it is astonishing after years of support our troops' demagoguery from my colleagues across the aisle they would choose to turn their backs on active duty service members and deny them medically prescribed care. after 2 1/2 years of transgender service members serving with no issues, there is one reason and one reason alone for this administration to be bringing back a ban on transgerder service -- transgender service members. to force a bigoted agenda on o the military they cannot force on the rest of the american
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people. mr. speaker, much of the history of this country is the history of expanding our understanding of who the declaration of independence meant when it said that all men are created equal. it didn't men in 1776 black men, certainly didn't mean women, it didn't mean native americans, it didn't mean lgbtq people. we have come to the point where we understand aspirationally it means all those things. this resolution gives us a choice. do we join the march, do we continue to march to expand the meaning of the declaration of independence, to declare equality for everyone regardless of specific characteristics? or do we join that dreary procession of slavers and confederates and racists and misogynists who have dragged this country through the mud and besmir shalled the ideas of our declaration of inpens. that's our choice. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized.
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mr. thornberry: mr. speaker, i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from rhode island, mr. cicilline. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from rhode island is recognized for two minutes. mr. cicilline: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise in strong support of this resolution expressing opposition to president trump's decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the armed forces. i'm proud to be a co-sponsor of this resolution. i thank my friend, mr. kennedy, for his extraordinary leadership on this issue. the president's decision in 2017 to prohibit transgender individuals from military service is disgraceful and wrong. not only is the decision based on ignorance and bigotry, but the evidence shows that there is absolutely no need for this discriminatory policy. america has the strongest and most effective military in the history of the world. and that's because of the brave individuals who serve in uniform. excluding an entire group of highly qualified and skilled individuals from service undermines our national security. in 2016, the obama administration removed the ban on transgender individuals
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after thoroughly and carefully studying how it would impact military and readiness. a year later president trump announced he would resume prohibiting transgender individuals in a tweet and didn't bother to tell his secretary of defense about it. the national center for transgender equality estimates over 15,000 transpeople are currently serving in the military. in 2016 a study by the rand corporation found service by transgender individuals does not adversely affect readiness. in fact, many military leaders have acknowledged that the ban will degrade military readiness. this cruel ban seeks to force transgender members of our military back into the closet or out of service. it's the policy that's not based on any fact or careful deliberation, but merely an attempt to score points with the hard right faction of his political base. by doing this the president is hurting our military, making our country less safe, and making our country less just. transgender individuals who serve our country in the armed forces are american heroes.
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they deserve our thanks. and they deserve more than to be used as a political prop by their commander in chief. we as a country are better than this. mr. speaker, quite simply it is un-american and immoral to deny transgender individuals who want to serve our country in uniform the right to do so simply because of who they are. i urge my colleagues to support this resolution. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: i continue to reserve, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: mbers are reminded to engage -- from engaging in perments toward the president. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: i'm pleased to yield one minute to the gentlewoman from california, ms. lee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from california is recognized for one minute. ms. lee: thank you. thank you, chairman smith, for your leadership and yielding time. i also want to recognize congressman kennedy for his tremendous leadership on this issue. mr. speaker, i rise in strong
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support of h.res. 124, rejecting the president's discriminatory ban on openly transgender service members in the military. transgender service members have served with honor and distinction and the defense of our country for decades. yet president trump announced on twitter that transgender service members would no longer be allowed to serve. despite the fact that many military leaders concluded that being transgender does not impact our readiness. president trump's own chief of staff said he hadn't received any reports of problems with unit cohesion or morale regarding transgender service members. the president's cowardly ban makes it clear the prejudice and patriotism guides his decisions as the daughter of a career military officer who served in the segregated military, i know what it's like for our country to betray our american values. as a person of faith i was taught to treat everyone equally. as a african-american woman, i will fight discrimination wherever it surfaces. i urge my colleagues to vote
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yes on this resolution. the speaker pro tempore: members are reminded to refrain from engaging in personalities toward the president. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i'm pleased to yield one minute to the gentlelady from texas, ms. jackson lee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from texas is recognized for one minute. ms. jackson lee: i thank the chairman. and i thank the ranking member managing this bill. and i thank mr. kennedy for his insights. we're reminded that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. franklin delano roosevelt offered those great words on the precipice of world war ii, the victory that the united states, troops standing side by side, and some of them african-americans, who lived and served in the uniform but in a segregated way. but their blood was the same. they shared their blood in the same way.
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they died in the same way. do we want victory or defeat? let me be very clear, allowing transgender to serve and rushing them out is a travesty. do you realize it is clear that the rand report found that health care coverage for transgender military personnel would increase the u.s. military total account by less than zero. in addition, when all of this was banned, we recognized by the obama administration that we recognize it is honored the sacrifices of selfless transgender service members who have endured exclusion, silence, and persecution, due to discriminatory policies and attitudes against lgbt and military personnel such as don't-ask, don't-tell which was rightfully struck down under the obama administration. we must be against these disruptive practices. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. ms. jackson lee: there is nothing to fear but fear itself. support this resolution to stand with those who want to serve and die for their country. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back.
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the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. thornberry: mr. speaker, may i inquire of the chair whether the gentleman from washington, the chairman, has any further speakers other than himself? mr. smith: i am prepared to close at this time. mr. thornberry: mr. speaker, i yield myself the balance of the time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. thornberry: i thank the speaker. mr. speaker, it seems to me that the current house leadership seems rather consumed by presidential tweets. as a matter of fact, just a few moments ago the speaker of the house herself was one of those members who had to be reminded that it's a violation of the rules of the house to disparage the character of the president. i guess we could do this every day. the president could tweet and we would have a sense of congress to comment on it. the president would tweet and -- but generally, mr. speaker, i think there is a higher and better purpose for this house to work on the problems that
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confront the american people. this as i mention add few moments ago, this is a messaging bill. it changes no law. it changes no policy. it could also be done down in the radio tv gallery. somebody could give a speech. there could be a press conference. it would have the same effect as having this resolution on the floor. i cannot take the -- have the time to correct all of the misstatements in the resolution or that have been made on the floor today. i will say this, mr. speaker, if we're going to do messaging, my primary message is that every individual who serves our nation in the military is entitled to respect and our appreciation. every single individual. and i am among those who was very impressed, by the way, by the transgender individuals who
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testified in front of our personnel subcommittee just a few weeks ago. but on the substance of this issue, i believe the principle is that the department of defense -- for the department of defense that any eligible individual who can can meet the high standards for military service without special accommodation should be permitted to serve. any eligible individual who can meet the standard without special accommodation should be permitted to serve. i think that's the standard. that's not exactly what we have been talking about today, but that's the standard. it should be the standard. there may be some difference abouts what a special accommodation is, about various medical diagnoses and conditions. i understand that. but the standard is, if you meet the standard, without special accommodation, you should be permitted to serve. those who serve deserve our
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respect and our appreciation. that's the point. that's not really the point of this resolution. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself the balance of our time. let's remember one important point. there was no problem. this was not an issue. it was not talked about. until the president decided in his words he wanted to ban transgender people from serving in the military. i hope that's not engaging in personalities, it's simply saying what he said and did. he sent out a tweet saying we should ban people in transgender. and the military has had to backfill that tweet with a policy. and i feel bad for the members of the military who have had to do that. who have had to waste their time for the last year trying to accommodate the ignorance and bigotry of this presidential policy. there was no problem. every single service chief testified there is no impact on
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unit cohesion. we weren't talking about that until the president decided that he wanted to discriminate against transgender people. . and i think the ranking member of the armed services committee is correct. all eligible person who can perform the duties should be allowed to serve. this policy violates that principle in a whole bunch of different ways but i will simply mention two. even if you've already transitioned, even if you've already gone through all of the health care needs and have fully transitioned to a new gender, this policy says you will not be allowed to serve if you are transgender. that means that fully qualified people, not ones who have potential future surgery or anything, are being banned from serving. it also says if you're serving now, you cannot be who you are. and this is where the ignorance comes in. what do you mean? you got to be the gender you were born in. that's not the way it works. that is ignorance talking, and this policy saying, no, sorry,
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you have to be in your, quote, biological sex, which means you have to deny who you are and that will also ban people from serving who are otherwise 100% qualified. without question, trans men and women who are fully qualified to serve in the military will be banned by this policy. we've already seen the other two -- well, the health care costs will go up. no, they want. the stats, the evidence, the facts show transgender people have no greater health care cost than the average person serving in the military. and the unit cohesion argument is an absolute joke. this debate, this policy, prompted by the president, inserting discrimination where it did not belong, is the only thing that's caused any of this issue. as general millie said, zero evidence of any unit cohesion issue. so let's be 100% clear here. this policy is based on ignorance and bigotry. and why are we doing it on the house floor instead of down in some press conference somewhere?
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because the vote of this house matters more than just the individual words of a few members. i, as a member of the united states house and as a citizen of the united states of america, want my congress to go on record that we will not stand for ignorance and bigotry in our military or anywhere else. a vote of this house makes it clear just how wrong-headed this policy is and make no mistake, this is not the military that wanted this. the president drove it and he's causing problems that do not need to be caused. we should reject [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] nick nick. he house passed by 238 to 185. five republicans voted in favor. the house done for the week and returning on mopped for morning speeches and 6:30 for votes. and about 20 minutes. president trump will be holding
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toampaign rally and speaking people of grand rapids, michigan. and in prime time on the crmp span network starting at 9:00 eastern, the confirmation hearing for the acting secretary since january. and at k, the senate budget committee voting on a 2020 budget resolution and 8:00 eastern, hearing from betsy deefost. we take you back to the house floor for house remarks between hoyer and scalise and the recent release. we'll show you as much as we can as the start of the president's rally.

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