-- Democrats are enraged today by an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would prohibit the Department of Defense from using government money to provide medical treatment related to gender transition.
“With the challenges we are facing across the globe, we are asking the American people to invest their hard-earned money in national defense. Each dollar needs to be spent to address threats facing us,” she wrote in a statement. “My amendment ends the 2016 Obama administration practice of the military paying for very expensive gender change surgeries that even most private insurance plans don’t cover.”
The amendment could see a vote by the full House of Representatives later today, alarming House Democrats.
Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., spoke out against the amendment, calling it “truly ugly.”
He continued, “By inserting Congress into the personal medical decisions of certain service members, this amendment tells thousands of Americans willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice that they are not entitled to the same rights as the soldier they stand next to. Transgender Americans, in uniform or not, deserve better than this hateful amendment from those elected to represent them.”
Hartzler said her amendment would not prevent anyone from joining the military or receiving standard medical care but would “simply [make] sure our defense resources are allocated in a way that is smart and good for our national defense.”
“This current policy of providing and paying for transgender surgeries hurts readiness and is projected to cost over a billion dollars over the next 10 years,” she added.
“As you probably know, Secretary [of Defense James] Mattis is under review on this right now, and so I want to make sure that what we do is in close coordination with them,” Ryan said.
Mattis last month approved a recommendation by the military services to delay allowing transgender applicants into the military until Jan. 1, 2018. That decision had no effect on existing policy, which allows service members to transition using the department’s health care coverage.
A statement at the time of his decision asserted that the six-month delay would allow for the military services to evaluate how the change would affect military readiness.
“We’ll see what happens with the Hartzler amendment,” Ryan continued. “It’s an open process. She can bring an amendment to the floor if she wants to.”
House Democrats are not the only ones to express concern over the bill: The American Civil Liberties Union is writing lawmakers, urging a vote against the amendment.
“By barring them from receiving medically necessary health care, this amendment would put the health of members of our military and their families at risk by undermining the ability of military doctors to provide care for their patients.”
ABC News’ Elizabeth McLaughlin contributed to this report.