June 6, 2016 at 6:40 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Rep. King proposes to bar trans bathroom use in U.S. Capitol
Rep. Steve King (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Rep. Steve King (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

An Iowa Republican who has a reputation for being vehemently anti-LGBT has proposed a measure that would effectively bar transgender people from using the restroom in the U.S. Capitol consistent with their gender identity.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has proposed an amendment to the fiscal year 2017 legislative branch appropriations bill that would prohibit the use of funds under the legislation for allowing any individual “to use any bathroom other than the bathroom of the individual’s biological sex.”

The measure would effectively bar transgender people from using the public restroom consistent with their gender identity in the U.S. Capitol as well as the Library of Congress or the House or Senate office buildings.

The amendment is but one that King has proposed for the legislation. Others would bar the hiring of undocumented immigrants, empower the Capitol Police to enforce immigration laws and allow the lawful carrying of firearms on Capitol Grounds.

The Washington Blade has placed a call to King’s office seeking an explanation for why the lawmaker thinks the anti-trans amendment is necessary.

King proposed the amendment at a time of growing national controversy over transgender people’s use of public restrooms. North Carolina enacted House Bill 2, which prohibits transgender people from using the restroom in schools and government buildings consistent with their gender identity. The Obama administration issued guidance prohibiting schools from discriminating against transgender students, including in bathroom use.

David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, lambasted King for proposing the anti-trans measure, calling it an attack on transgender people.

“Rep. King’s opposition to basic fairness and equality for LGBTQ people is no secret,” Stacy said. “Today he’s proposing an amendment that would tell every Members’ transgender constituents they aren’t welcome to visit the Capitol, the Library of Congress, or a House or Senate office building. Surely the House of Representatives has important work it should be getting done for the American people instead of targeting transgender Americans. The House should reject this harmful and mean-spirited amendment.”

The House Rules Committee, which is heavily stacked in favor of Republicans, is set to consider proposed amendments to the fiscal year 2017 legislative branch appropriations bill on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Should the committee approve the King amendment, the full House will vote on the measure when the underlying legislation comes to the House floor for a vote, which could be as soon as this week.

One amendment seeking to bar anti-LGBT discrimination has also been proposed for the legislation. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) has introduced a measure that would prohibit the use of funds under the act in contravention of President Obama’s 2014 executive order barring anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors.

The amendment, which is bipartisan and co-sponsored by Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), would be limited to barring anti-LGBT bias among contractors receiving money under legislative branch appropriations.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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