Sunday, March 07, 2021

A Monkey Wrench

The Republican tried to derail the COVID-19 relief package by trying to pass a poison pill amendment. So called moderate Republican Susan Collins from Maine was one of the cosponsors of the amendment.
Collins, Manchin vote to defund schools allowing trans kids in sports
Washington Blade
By Chris Johnson
March 6, 2021

The U.S. Senate narrowly rejected Saturday morning a Republican amendment to the coronavirus relief package that would have defunded schools allowing transgender kids to participate in sports.

The amendment, introduced by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), was proposed as part of the American Rescue Plan and defeated by a vote of 49-50 largely along party lines. The measure needed 60 votes to pass as part of the $1.9 trillion package.

However, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) broke with Democrats to vote in favor of the amendment and Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska) broke with Republicans to vote against it.
Notably, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted in favor of the amendment to defund schools allowing transgender kids in sports, even though she has a reputation of being the most pro-LGBTQ Republican in the Senate. Previously, Collins has co-sponsored legislation seeking to reverse former President Trump’s transgender military ban and spoke out against a Trump administration regulation that would have allowed anti-trans discrimination in health care.
Meanwhile the National Transgender State Legislators Caucus is in favor of the act, no surprise there.
Transgender lawmakers condemn Tuberville Amendment, urge passage of Equality Act
National Transgender State Legislators Caucus speaks out amid continued political attacks on transgender community
Washington Blade
By John Riley
March 6, 2021

Seven of the eight out transgender people currently serving as state lawmakers have released a joint statement condemning Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) failed attempt to force school districts to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports, while also urging lawmakers to pass the Equality Act.

The Tuberville Amendment, which was defeated on a 50-49 vote on Saturday during a “Vote-a-rama” on a White House-backed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, would have withheld federal funding from states, school districts, or universities that allow transgender females to compete in their gender identity.
In addition to praising the 49 Democrats and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) who voted against the amendment, the legislators also called out those who voted for it, notably calling out Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) for bucking his own party to “single out and stigmatize” transgender student-athletes.
In addition to praising the 49 Democrats and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) who voted against the amendment, the legislators also called out those who voted for it, notably calling out Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) for bucking his own party to “single out and stigmatize” transgender student-athletes.

You might remember last week the rallying cry of the Republicans was that the Democrats loaded the COVID-19 relief bill up with non-COVID-19 items like the 15 dollar minimum wage package, but somehow by the way of Republican thinking adding an amendment blocking funding for trans students athletes isn’t doing the same thing.

Up in Maine some are not happy with Sen. Collins vote.
Maine Voices: Sen. Collins’ reversal on the Equality Act is a betrayal of our community
Confirming anti-LGBTQ+ judges, embracing a hate group’s support and flip-flopping on federal anti-bias protections aren’t the actions of an ally.
Portland Herald
By Seth Nelson
Mach 6, 2021

For many of us in the LGBTQ+ community, learning to forgive can be difficult, if not downright impossible. We’ve endured long-festering open wounds with our families. We’ve been misunderstood by our friends. We’ve been told by our churches that we’re sinners. And on top of all that pain, we’ve been discriminated against – legally – because of our sexual orientation or gender identity.
That’s why it was particularly gut-wrenching this week when Sen. Susan Collins pulled her support for the Equality Act, comprehensive federal legislation that would provide basic legal protections for all LGBTQ+ Americans, regardless of where they live or work. After years of claiming to be an ally, pulling her support now is just the peak of Sen. Collins’ betrayal of Maine’s LGBTQ+ community – a betrayal that started by pandering to the far right for votes.

We had real reason to celebrate when Sen. Collins signed on as a co-sponsor of the Equality Act in 2019. With attacks on LGBTQ+ Americans coming from all corners of the Republican Party, she stood out for her willingness to buck her party’s hateful rhetoric and support legislation that would take away the uncertainty LGBTQ+ Americans face from potential discrimination in our day-to-day lives. Now, it feels her support was just an election year ploy.

Contrary to popular thinking the Equality Act is not a shoe in, right now it is short of the votes needed to pass in the Senate.

WGBH wrote this about the Act…
The Equality Act is not likely to pass in the Senate due to the lack of support from Republican senator, Monroe said.

"The GOP will argue for this Fairness For All Act under the guise of religious freedom to discriminate against LGBT people," she said. "When you compromise on all civil rights, then what other rights can we compromise on? It's just a slippery slope that invites us to regress rather than move forward."
While the Blue Mountain Eagle reported that,
The Senate now has a tenuous Democratic majority — Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaker in a chamber split 50-50 — but it is uncertain at best whether advocates can muster at least 10 Republicans for a 60-vote majority to avert a filibuster.
So don’t hold your breath but the bill has a lot of hurdles to get over, first the Democrats will have to do away with the filibuster because no way will they get the 60 votes.

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