House Dems call on Biden, leadership to reject spending bills with anti-LGBTQ provisions

More than 160 House Democrats accused Republicans of “hijacking” the annual appropriations process by inserting clauses that restrict the rights of LGBTQ people into must-pass spending bills.

In a letter sent Wednesday to party leadership and President Biden, they said any funding agreement that includes anti-LGBTQ provisions should be rejected.

At least 40 provisions in the House’s fiscal 2024 appropriations bills would restrict access to gender-affirming health care, prohibit funds from being used to display LGBTQ Pride flags at certain government facilities and prevent the federal government from adequately responding to some instances of sex-based discrimination.

Democrats on Wednesday said the House Republicans behind the riders lack the votes and public support to pass similar standalone legislation, “so they are working to include them in must-pass funding legislation.”

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“Rather than working to address the problems facing Americans and supporting working families, anti-equality members of Congress are attempting to hijack the appropriations process to restrict the rights and fundamental freedoms of LGBTQI+ people,” 163 House Democrats wrote in Wednesday’s letter, led by Congressional Equality Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and all eight of the caucus’s LGBTQ co-chairs.

“If any of these provisions became law, they would negatively impact the rights and freedoms of LGBTQI+ people,” the letter continues. “LGBTQI+ people deserve to live their lives free from discrimination, and taxpayers should never be required to fund their own discrimination.”

Lawmakers have yet to strike a deal to fund the government through the Nov. 17 funding deadline. The fiscal year ended Sept. 30. The House, which has passed five of the 12 appropriations bills, is expected to vote this week on bills to fund the departments of the Interior and the Environment and the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

The Equality Caucus has opposed the passage of the bills as written, and the White House this week issued veto threats against both measures, citing as primary reasons, among other issues, threats to “the health and safety of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Americans.”

“Appropriations bills should provide support to all Americans and make our constituents better off — not target certain constituents for discrimination and exclusion,” Democrats wrote in Wednesday’s letter. “We urge you to stand with the LGBTQI+ community and reject any attempts to include anti-LGBTQI+ provisions in any final [fiscal 2024] government funding deal.”

More than 150 House Democrats in June authored a similar letter that called for the removal of anti-LGBTQ provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act passed by the House, arguing that such measures “threaten the recruitment, retention, and readiness of our Armed Forces.”

A survey published by the progressive think tank and polling firm Data for Progress in July found that a majority of Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, oppose amendments added to the annual defense policy bill that threaten LGBTQ and reproductive rights.

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