02:01 - Source: CNN
Panetta: Transgender ban bad for US 'moral authority'

Story highlights

The senators want to prevent transgender service members from being discharged

The amendment could get a vote on a defense policy bill this week

CNN  — 

A bipartisan pair of senators introduced an amendment Monday to try to reverse President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.

The amendment from New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins would prevent the military from kicking out transgender service members solely based on their gender identity, according to a copy of the language obtained by CNN.

The senators will try to get a vote on their proposal during consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act, the massive defense policy bill that’s on the Senate floor this week. It’s still unclear whether the measure will get a vote, as it’s one of scores of proposed amendments to the defense bill.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat (left) and Susan Collins, a Maine Republican.

Trump declared that he was reinstating the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military on Twitter in July, which the Obama administration had ended in 2016.

But in the directive issued a month later, Trump stated that he would block any new recruits from joining while giving Defense Secretary James Mattis time to study the issue about what to do with transgender people serving openly in the military.

The directive called for Mattis to set up a panel of experts to study the issue and report back early next year.

Trump’s call for banning transgender service members sparked criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, though it’s not yet clear if the measure from Gillibrand and Collins can garner the 60 votes it likely will need to pass.

The amendment is the second the pair introduced on the transgender ban, and the new version is more narrow than the first, in what is likely an effort to try to attract more Republican support. The initial proposal also would have blocked the Pentagon from ending payments for the cost of transgender medical procedures.

The new amendment also directs Mattis to focus his study on the issue of new recruits, something he was in the process of considering when Trump announced his ban.

The Obama administration set up a process for the Pentagon to begin taking in new transgender recruits, and in June Mattis had said he needed six more months to study the impact of the move.

Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who is currently battling brain cancer, will lead debate on the NDAA on the Senate floor this week.

McCain said in a statement last month it would be “a step in the wrong direction” to discharge transgender individuals solely on the basis of gender identity, and the Pentagon should complete its study first before any decisions are made about new recruits.