President Trump shocked the world this summer when he announced — seemingly without first consulting any military leaders — that the military would no longer allow transgender Americans to serve their country. Trump received immediate backlash for this announcement and, earlier this week, two senators introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act intended to reverse the ban.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) aimed to stop the military from kicking out transgender service members solely because of their gender identity. The amendment would also require Trump’s Defense Secretary, General James Mattis, to complete his review of Trump’s policy by the end of the year and report his findings to Congress.
When news of Gillibrand and Collins’ amendment broke earlier this week, it was unclear whether or not they would be able to get the votes needed for it to pass. On Friday, Gillibrand revealed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had cut off the debate over the NDAA, so members were unable to vote on the amendment.
While she was “outraged” by this move from McConnell, Gillibrand also announced that she had still gained some important support for the amendment from Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) and had turned it into a bipartisan bill.
The fact that McCain, who leads the Senate Armed Services Committee, is cosponsoring the bill is particularly noteworthy and will influence its ability to pass. In a statement about the decision, McCain said:
‘When less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country.
‘Any member of the military who meets the medical and readiness standards should be allowed to serve — including those who are transgender. The Senate Armed Services Committee will review the results of the DOD study on accession and will continue to work closely with our military leaders on any policy changes as we conduct oversight on this important issue.’
When President Trump first announced a ban on transgender service members, Senator McCain called the move a “step in the wrong direction.”
McCain tweeted about his decision to cosponsor the Gillibrand and Collins’ bill on Friday afternoon.
Some have been critical of McCain’s decision, but plenty of his followers have also thanked him for stepping up and showing support for transgender service members.
Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.