House Republicans pass bill banning Pride flags & allowing anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination

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The House of Representatives passed a bill to fund several military-related agencies that included provisions attacking LGBTQ+ rights, including access to gender-affirming care, anti-discrimination policies, and Pride flags.

“Once again, Republicans are attacking the transgender and broader LGBTQI+ community with riders that both harm our LGBTQI+ veterans and undermine our military readiness by discouraging LGBTQI+ people from enlisting,” said out Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI). “We strongly condemn this bill and its cruel attacks that target those who have served our nation in uniform. Our members remain committed to defending the LGBTQI+ community throughout the Fiscal Year 2025 appropriations process and beyond.”

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2025 (“MilCon”) is a $147.5 billion bill that funds military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The bill passed on Tuesday in a 209-197 vote, mostly along party lines, with four Democrats voting in favor – Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (TX), Jared Golden (ME), Mary Peltola (AK), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA) – and two Republicans voting against it – Reps. Tom McClintock (CA) and Matt Rosendale (MT).

The bill had several anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion riders attached to it. Riders are provisions that are unrelated to the main point of a bill that get attached to it in order to push policy priorities through.

The anti-LGBTQ+ riders include one that bans the VA and other agencies that receive funding from the bill from covering gender-affirming care for veterans or employees, one that bans the VA from flying Pride flags at any of its facilities, another that revokes three executive orders from President Joe Biden that support diversity in the workplace, and a fourth rider that allows government contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people if they claim that their religion requires them to discriminate.

The anti-abortion rider in the bill defunds VA abortion counseling and care in the cases of rape, incest, or danger to the pregnant parent’s health.

The bill is one of several large appropriations bills that Congress must pass every year to keep the federal government funded. House Republicans started using these bills last year to attack LGBTQ+ rights and other government policies that conservatives deemed “woke,” making them fail in the Senate and leading to a months-long standoff that risked shutting down the federal government. The bills eventually passed without most of the anti-LGBTQ+ measures.

Biden has already threatened to veto the MilCon bill, which must pass by September to keep the VA and other agencies covered in the bill funded.

“House Republicans are again wasting time with partisan bills that would result in deep cuts to law enforcement, education, housing, health care, consumer safety, energy programs that lower utility bills and combat climate change, and essential nutrition services,” a White House statement said, adding that the abortion rider would prevent the VA from giving “needed care when the health of the woman is endangered.”

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