November 30, 2016 at 3:22 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
White House: GOP gets no credit for nixing anti-LGBT amendment
Josh Earnest, gay news, Washington Blade

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the GOP deserves no credit for nixing anti-LGBT language in defense legislation. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday Republicans deserve no credit for jettisoning plans to include a provision in major defense spending legislation that would undermine President Obama’s executive order against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination.

“I don’t think you get credit for deciding not to discriminate against somebody,” Earnest said. “I think that is behavior that we would expect of everybody in the country and particularly people who are elected to represent their fellow citizens in the United States Congress.”

Senior armed services committee aides in the Republican-led Congress said Tuesday an amendment Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) proposed to undercut the 2014 order barring federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT workplace discrimination wouldn’t be included in the final version of the fiscal year 2017 defense authorization bill.

The House version contained the language, but the Senate version lacked any comparable provision. The White House cited the inclusion of the amendment as one of several factors for why Obama would veto it.

Although aides have signaled the language won’t be in the final bill, Earnest was cautious about claiming victory too early, pointing out the actual text of the conference report isn’t yet public.

“As of just a few minutes ago, we have not seen the final text of the bill yet,” Earnest said. “Typically the bill is hundreds of pages long and it takes some time to review the text of the bill and determine exactly what the consequences are of those measures, so I can’t make a grand pronouncement at this point about our position on the legislation. What we have been told is the so-called Russell amendment is not in that legislation. We’ll obviously take a look to confirm that.”

As Earnest acknowledged, the omission of the amendment may be an empty victory because lawmakers could push a similar provision after Obama leaves office under no veto threat and President-elect Donald Trump could scrap the executive order on his own.

“I’m not going to speculate about what might happen after President Obama leaves office,” Earnest said. “Obviously, the Republican-led Congress and the Republican president will have to determine what kind of policies they want to pursue, but we obviously spent a lot of time over the course of this year talking about the fact that elections have consequences — and it’s possible that this is one way in which elections would have consequences.”

Earnest said it was too early to say whether Obama would sign the final version of the defense authorization bill.

“We haven’t seen the text of it, but we’ll obviously review it,” Earnest said. “That may take a little time, but once we’ve reached a conclusion about whether or not the president will sign it, we’ll let you know.”

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

  • Some people deserve to be discriminated against. Prisoners guilty of their violent crimes are an obvious example.

    Another example are those who intend to overturn a society’s norms which have maintained a level of stability not seen in many other counties whose recent history has been turmoil or worse, this overturn carrying with it no guarantee that it won’t bring disaster with it, and from which there may be no return.

    • sounds like you are a homophobe saying that change eg marriage equality

      will bring disaster

      here is a list of the 25 nations that allow gays to marry . Missing from the list is Columbia, and Mexico Mexico -11 states of teh 31 allow gays to marry but all states recognize them and cheers, hate speech against glbt is illegal in Mexico

      Also there may be only one nation with marriage = that doesn allow gays to adopt, sri cant find the list

    • we also overturned slavery and segregation. allowed women to vote allowed people 18 years old to vote etc

      forget your societies norms, which included btw in the earlier days sending hundreds of thousands of native americans on death marches in the middle of winter as we stole their lands. the great majority of them perished Pls crawl back from under the rock you came from

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