House Republicans killed their own $37.4 billion water and energy spending bill on Thursday because it included a provision barring federal contractors from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The 305-112 vote tanked the routine appropriations bill for energy and water projects, "and may imperil GOP efforts to pass any more of the 12 annual appropriations bills for the upcoming budget year, work that is the most basic function of Congress," Associated Press reported.
The Huffington Post explains:
Nearly every Democrat voted against it, but that was expected. They’d raised concerns with riders in the bill that would undermine the Clean Water Act and allow people to carry firearms on Corps of Engineers lands. They also opposed language added late Wednesday by Republicans that would prevent the federal government from revoking funds to North Carolina over its controversial law affecting transgender people going to the bathroom.
The real surprise was seeing conservatives line up against the bill over an amendment added late Wednesday by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.). His provision would preserve a 2014 executive order by President Barack Obama that bars federal contractors from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The House accepted his amendment 223 to 195, with moderate Republicans joining with Democrats to pass it.
In a statement issued after the vote, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) chastised his House colleagues for voting down the bill "apparently because it would incorporate Mr. Maloney's inclusive amendment. It's wrong that some House Republicans are willing to obstruct the appropriations process...just to allow discrimination against LGBT people."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also blasted the GOP, saying in a statement: "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."
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As The Hill reports, "the bill's failure Thursday marks the second time in two weeks lawmakers have waged a very public fight on the House floor over protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."
Last week, Maloney tried unsuccessfully to add a similar provision to a military spending bill.
Associated Press reports:
Several House Republicans and aides said the issue was proving divisive and emotional within their conference. Thursday morning, House Republicans began a regular closed-door meeting with the reading of a prayer, as usual. But this time, Rep. Rick Allen of Georgia quoted from the biblical book of Romans, including passages that seemed to listeners to relate to those who had supported the Maloney amendment, such as: "Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."
Lawmakers and aides present said some people were intensely uncomfortable and some walked out. Allen's spokeswoman Madison Fox said the congressman made no reference to the amendment or the bill.
"It's almost shocking that Congress has found a way to hit a new low," said the Sierra Club’s legislative director Melinda Pierce on Thursday. "Congressional Republicans have now scuttled must-pass legislation to fund vital energy and water programs because they object to fundamental protections for the LGBT community. Shameful."