WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump set off even more confusion and chaos than usual at the U.S. Capitol this week with a series of tweets announcing he would ban transgender people from serving in the military.
"After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow ... transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military," Trump tweeted. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming ... victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption."
Texas Democrats in Congress were predictably outraged: "The president’s harmful and hate-filled policy announced via Twitter to ban transgender Americans from military service represents a new and disturbing low," U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston said in a statement.
Texas Republicans were a mix of muted, supportive and — in the case of U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of Helotes — deeply opposed.
Republican U.S. Reps. Brian Babin of Woodville, Blake Farenthold of Corpus Christi and Louie Gohmert of Tyler focused on the costs to the military of covering sex reassignment surgeries, rather than the outright ban on military participation.
Two of their GOP colleagues, U.S. Reps. Lamar Smith of San Antonio and Pete Olson of Sugar Land, praised the president for listening to his military advisers on the matter — a point Trump made in his tweets before a series of reports stating that the Pentagon had been blindsided by the move.
Hurd was the lone Texas Republican who vocally opposed Trump on the matter, saying, "anybody who meets all military requirements should have the opportunity to put on a uniform and serve our great country."
But mostly, there was confusion: On Trump's motivations. On whether the ban would actually happen. The president's own top military advisers have promised to "treat all of our personnel with respect" until Trump issues a directive on exactly how to implement the policy.
Take it from U.S. House Armed Services Chairman — and Texas Republican — Mac Thornberry of Clarendon.
"It was a surprise to me, and I think the Pentagon is referring questions to the White House because it was a surprise to them too," he told the Dallas Morning News. "I don't know what to think."
"Now what?" he added.
Here's what: Take a look here at how Texans in Congress are responding to Trump's latest order.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/07/27/texans-congress-divided-over-transgender-ban/.
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