23 Republicans Help Defeat Amendment to End Tax-Funded Transgender Surgeries in the Military

By Gage Cohen | July 17, 2017 | 4:34 PM EDT

Amendment to save taxpayers up to $8.4 million annually

(CNSNews.com) - On Thursday, 23 House Republicans joined 190 Democrats to vote down the Hartzler Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which would have stopped the Pentagon from using taxpayer dollars to pay for gender reassignment surgeries.

The amendment, proposed by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), would have saved an estimated $2.4 to $8.4 million dollars annually, according to the RAND corporation. Money would still be permitted to go towards any mental health services sought out by transgendered service members.

“I am disappointed by the outcome of today's vote," Rep. Hartzler told TIME Magazine after her amendment failed to pass, "but the issue still remains and steps must be taken to address this misuse of our precious defense dollars.”

Rep. Hartzler has argued for months that paying for gender reassignment surgeries is not the best use of the military’s tax dollars.

“This is about addressing Korea, Russia, ISIS,” argued Hartzler on the House floor. “We need every defense dollar to go to meeting those threats, not anything else, and we need to make sure our troops are ready and can be deployed.”

Democrats railed against the amendment, claiming it was a Republican attack on LGBT rights. At her weekly press briefing, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the amendment “mean-spirited and discriminatory.”

One Republican who voted against the amendment was Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who usually votes alongside his fellow conservatives. In a Facebook post explaining his decision, Amash said that, in part, he voted “no” because: “the Department of Defense (DoD) adopted a policy in 2016 regarding medical treatment for transgender persons. This policy allows treatment only when it’s ‘medically necessary,’ and the Trump administration has continued the policy.”

“Medically necessary” does not have a set definition under the current law.

According to Lambda Legal, a transgender rights organization, “doctors have found such treatments [reassignment surgery] to be medically necessary for many people. The AMA’s 2008 resolution recognized ‘an established body of medical research’ that ‘demonstrates the effectiveness and medical necessity of mental health care, hormone therapy, and gender-affirming surgery as forms of therapeutic treatment for many patients diagnosed with [gender dysphoria].’”

However, the science surrounding gender dysphoria and the effects of gender reassignment surgery is far from undisputed. Johns Hopkins Psychiatrist Dr. Paul R. McHugh contends that gender dysphoria remains a “mental disorder” that requires treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that those who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with, and promoting, a mental disorder.

Many of the Republicans who voted against the amendment, including Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) face difficult re-elected campaigns at home.

The following 23 Republicans voted against the Hartzler Amendment:

Justin Amash (MI)

Jack Bergman (MI)

Mike Coffman (CO)

Barbara Comstock (VA)

Paul Cook (CA)

Ryan Costello (PA)

Carlos Curbelo (FL)

Jeff Denham (CA)

Charlie Dent (PA)

John Faso (NY)

Brian Fitzpatrick (PA)

Darrell Issa (CA)
John Katko (NY)

Steve Knight (CA)

Leonard Lance (NJ)

Frank LoBiondo (NJ)

Tom MacArthur (NJ)

Tom Reed (NY)

Dave Reichert (WA)

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL)

Bill Shuster (PA)

Elise Stefanik (NY)

Claudia Tenney (NY)