Metro Weekly

Republicans nuke spending bill because they can’t discriminate against gays

Rep. Maloney's pro-LGBT amendment passed, but the bill was scuttled by Democrats and Republicans

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Credit: Wiki Commons

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Credit: Wiki Commons

The House of Representatives has scuttled a spending bill after provisions were added to prevent federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people.

The $37 billion water and energy bill died Thursday, with 130 Republicans and 175 Democrats opposing it. Democrats took issue with the bill for undermining the Clean Water Act, allowing firearms to be carried on Corps of Engineers land, and for language added on Wednesday by House Republicans that would prevent the government from preventing funds to North Carolina due to a recent anti-transgender law, HB 2.

Conversely, conservative Republicans took issue with an amendment by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.). It countered Republican attempts to undermine a 2014 executive order by President Obama which prevented federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people.

Last week, GOP representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which granted federal contractors the right to discriminate against LGBT employees due to religious reasons. Maloney attempted to counter it by attaching his amendment to a military spending bill, but was overruled by conservative House Republicans despite having the votes to pass.

His attempts to again include the language in this week’s bill were more successful. Moderate Republicans joined Democrats in supporting Maloney’s amendment, approving it 223 to 195. Facing the possibility that last week’s bigotry would be reversed just seven days later, GOP conservatives chose to scuttle the entire water and energy bill, rather than risk passing Maloney’s amendment.

“House Republicans’ thirst to discriminate against the LGBT community is so strong that they are willing to vote down their own appropriations bill in order to prevent progress over bigotry,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a statement.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) asked why Democrats bothered to pass Maloney’s amendment if they were only going to vote down the bill the following day.

“What we learned today is that Democrats were not looking to advance an issue but to sabotage the appropriations process,” he told reporters. “The mere fact that they voted to pass the amendment and then voted against the bill containing their amendment proves this point.”

Maloney, who is openly gay, took to Twitter to celebrate the passing of his pro-LGBT amendment:

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.