UPDATE: Politico reports Trumps ban on transgender military service was a trade off for border wall funding votes in the House.
So much winning! The President of the United States has had a remarkable week so far, hijacking a Boy Scout Jamboree by leading them to boo his political opponents, held a campaign rally in Ohio saying only Abraham Lincoln was more Presidential than he was, and issued an executive tweet banning transgender people from the military without informing the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, Trump’s minions in the Senate are slogging along, trying to find a way to save face with their big donors on their promises to eliminate health care access to millions of people.
Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote on Tuesday on what was essentially a blank piece of paper in the hope something would emerge with enough votes by the end of the week to make it into a conference between the House and Senate.
While Trump celebrated the result in a short speech at the White House, Democrats seemed more determined than ever to continue fighting.
“Anyone who thinks this is over is sadly mistaken,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York. “There are many, many Republicans who don’t like this bill, who don’t want to vote for it. They are under enormous pressure to vote for it. … Anyone who voted to move to proceed and certainly anyone who votes to send this bill to conference is virtually, certainly, voting to kick millions off health care, to make it much harder to get coverage if you have a pre-existing condition, to slash Medicaid and give a huge amount of tax cuts to the rich.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders Monday called the bill the “cruelest, most destructive and irresponsible piece of legislation ever brought to the United States Senate in the modern history of this country.”
— Encinitas Unity (@encinitasunity) July 25, 2017
People’s Action organizer Julie Chinitz saluted the efforts of those who have participated in protests, via Campaign for America’s Future:
And let’s not forget the true heroes in this fight.
These heroes include the West Virginians who’ve been holding Capito’s feet to the fire for months with creative protests and civil disobedience.
They also include the Mainers who delivered messages in a pill bottle to Sen. Collins and tracked Rep. Bruce Poliquin down at a Boston fundraiser and reminded him who he’s supposed to represent. And let’s not forget the seniors who braved a Great Lakes blizzard to protest in front of Speaker Paul Ryan’s Racine office…
…And our fight isn’t over. Republican leaders wanted to put health care repeal on Trump’s desk in January. It’s the end of July, they’re still scrambling. That’s because of us.
Repeal and Replace has become Skinny Repeal in the Senate, an as-yet-unwritten (remember they’ve had 8 years to come up with something) piece of legislation likely to repeal the individual mandate and medical device tax, while ‘only’ leaving 15 million people uninsured, raising premiums $1200 annually for policies actually offering access to health care.
There will be other votes in the Senate over the next day or so and they will all fail to move legislation along. The last gasp ‘Skinny’ bill will be voted on Friday.
Remember the vote that really matters in Vote-a-Rama is the McConnell substitute at the end of the process. Think Friday 5 a.m.
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) July 26, 2017
Meanwhile, a coalition of groups is looking past the Senate votes, with a campaign this weekend asking voters nationwide to fill out cards pledging to cast their ballots based on how their lawmakers vote on rolling back Obamacare
The initiative is how the groups — including Save My Care, Our Lives on the Line and Health Care for America Now, which are hubs of labor and progressive organizations’ health care lobbying efforts — plan to gather voters’ contact information, which can be used to direct those voters toward protests, town halls and more in the coming weeks and months.
Progressives hope Saturday’s “Our Lives on the Line” protests — initially set for the first day of lawmakers’ summer recess, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed the start of that recess — will demonstrate the strength of their opposition at a key moment, with the Senate potentially still working on its bill.
The organizers of the Women’s March, the tax day protests and April 22’s March for Science are involved — as well as Indivisible, a hub of left-leaning resistance with hundreds of local chapters; the Barack Obama-aligned Organizing for Action and Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution; leading progressive groups including Planned Parenthood, MoveOn.org, the Center for American Progress Action Fund and more.
On the 69th anniversary of Harry Truman’s executive order desegregating the military, President Trump transmitted an order via Twitter saying transgender people would not be allowed to serve `in any capacity’ in the U.S. military.
The tweets made reference to “consultation with my Generals and military experts” and “tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
UPDATE: Trump banned transgender military in order to get House votes for border wall funding, via Politico:
House Republicans were planning to pass a spending bill stacked with his campaign promises, including money to build his border wall with Mexico.
But an internal House Republican fight over transgender troops was threatening to blow up the bill. And House GOP insiders feared they might not have the votes to pass the legislation because defense hawks wanted a ban on Pentagon-funded sex reassignment operations — something GOP leaders wouldn’t give them.
They turned to Trump, who didn’t hesitate. In the flash of a tweet, he announced that transgender troops would be banned altogether.
From what I’ve been able to gather, this latest move was apparently made from the oval throne adjacent to the Oval Office.
Vice President Mike Pence and senior officials such as chief strategist Steve Bannon have been pushing for such a decision in recent weeks.
From the Daily Beast:
The more socially liberal factions of Trump’s inner circle—including his family members and staffers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner—have been opposed to all the anti-LGBT initiatives of this administration. However, they quickly determined that their “political capital be spent elsewhere,” as one senior White House official characterized it, given that their advice on LGBT issues has been routinely overruled, if not overlooked, by this administration and President Trump.
Another White House official underscored to The Daily Beast how Trump’s latest announcement would play well “with his base” and social-conservative and Christian-right leaders, some of whom—including Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, who remains close with this White House—have advised the president and administration for months to pull the trigger on killing the Obama-era directive.
Just spoke to a Trump administration official about the transgender military decision. Here’s what they said… pic.twitter.com/eOWdvlxTfd
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 26, 2017
Not included in the decision-making process were the House Armed Services Committee, the Secretary of Defense (who is on vacation) and the military itself. A Pentagon spokesperson referred all questions on #Trump tweets about transgender service people to the President, saying “Call the White House.”
The Twitexecutive Order comes just days after bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives voted to defend transgender troops’ access to health care by defeating the Hartzler amendment.
Critics were quick to point to a Rand Corporation study saying transgender military members would likely have minimal impact on readiness and health care costs.
From the Washington Post:
“The implication is that even in the most extreme scenario that we were able to identify … we expect only a 0.13-percent ($8.4 million out of $6.2 billion) increase in health care spending,” Rand’s authors concluded.
By contrast, total military spending on erectile dysfunction medicines amounts to $84 million annually, according to an analysis by the Military Times — 10 times the cost of annual transition-related medical care for active duty transgender servicemembers.
The military spends $41.6 million annually on Viagra alone, according to the Military Times analysis — roughly five times the estimated spending on transition-related medical care for transgender troops.
San Diego Congressman Scott Peters reacted quickly to the announcement, filing an amendment to the defense appropriations bill to overturn Trump’s transgender ban.
So much winning…
Lead Photo by Duncan Hull via Flickr.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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