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Maloney Succeeds in Removing Anti-LGBT Russell Amendment from Final NDAA Bill

Nov 30, 2016
Press Release
After GOP Leadership Rigged Vote, Maloney Fought Back as NDAA Conference Committee Conferee

In June, Speaker Ryan Abandoned Regular Order After Maloney Amendment Passed House

Washington – Months after engaging in one of the most controversial floor fights in recent memory, Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair and National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Committee conferee Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced that he has succeeded in getting an anti-LGBT provision, known as the Russell Amendment, removed from the final NDAA conference report. The controversial Russell Amendment, added to the NDAA during committee markup by the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), would roll back a critical 2014 executive order by President Barack Obama on employment discrimination, which would effectively allow federal contractors to fire employees solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

After being named, as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to serve on the conference committee of the House and Senate versions of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Rep. Maloney sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he veto the defense bill if the provision was not removed by the conference committee.

“The discriminatory Russell Amendment has nothing to do with fighting ISIS, protecting our troops, or keeping America safe – it’s really that simple,” said Rep. Maloney. “I’m proud that months after introducing the Maloney Amendment to fight this hateful anti-LGBT language included in the defense bill, we were finally able to remove the discriminatory Russell Amendment from our defense bill. While this battle has been won the war is not over and I will continue fighting throughout the next Congress to ensure no taxpayer dollars are used to subsidize discrimination and hate.”

In May, after the Russell Amendment was included in the NDAA, Rep. Maloney introduced a procedural motion on the House Floor to remove the hateful language from the bill. After his measure was defeated, NDAA passed the House with the discriminatory language included.

The next day, Rep. Maloney introduced an amendment to the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2017 (MilCon-VA) to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to Military and Veterans Affairs contractors that discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Although the Maloney Amendment initially had sufficient votes to pass, Republican leadership rigged the vote by holding the vote period open, even after time expired. Republican leadership then convinced seven Republicans, who had initially supported the amendment, to switch their votes and the amendment ultimately failed. 

Days later, Maloney introduced the Maloney Amendment to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2017, which would specifically prevent contractors paid by funds allocated for energy and water projects from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. After the “switching seven” received criticism for their changed votes on NDAA, the Maloney Amendment to the energy and water bill passed with 43 Republican votes.

In response to the Maloney Amendment’s passage as part of the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2017, Speaker Paul Ryan abandoned regular order and closed the amendment process for subsequent appropriations bills.

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney is the first openly gay member of Congress from New York. After 22 years together, he married his husband Randy Florke in June 2014 in Cold Spring, NY where they live with their three children.