Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) have been thick as thieves throughout their Congressional tenure, but find themselves more frequently at odds during the Trump era. Their most recent disagreement stems from a failed amendment to the 2018 NDAA that would have banned the funding of transgendered surgeries by the military.
“Still in disbelief that Congress passed a defense authorization (NDAA) earlier today that funds sex changes for members of the military, as well as $43 billion for our 17th year of the war in Afghanistan. I voted no,” Massie wrote in a Facebook post after the NDAA passed but the amendment to block military transgender funding failed.
After Amash had previously referred to headlines indicating that he had voted to authorize military transgender funding as “fake news,” he was asked about Massie’s remarks. Amash responded that he felt his long-time colleague was missing the mark in his assessment.
“He is wrong here,” Amash wrote on Facebook in response to Massie. “The NDAA does not fund sex changes; it doesn’t say anything about transgender persons.”
Amash’s carefully worded response is very telling, as he did not specifically refer to the amendment in question. The amendment, proposed by Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), was rejected by Amash, moderate Republican legislators, and every Democratic House member. It read as follows:
“Funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to provide medical treatment (other than mental health treatment) related to gender transition to a person entitled to medical care under chapter 55 of title 10, United States Code.”
“Military service is a privilege — not a right — predicated on the singular goal of fighting and winning our nation’s wars. All decisions on personnel and funding should be made with this in mind. High entry and retention standards are required because failure in the job costs lives. Last year’s transgender decision is costly in dollars and short on common sense,” Hartzler said.
Close allies throughout the Obama era, Massie and Amash have been far less congruent under President Trump’s leadership. Amash has led the charge with Democrats and moderate Republicans to investigate Russian collusion accusations, while Massie has sided with conservative lawmakers dismissing the allegations as a partisan witch-hunt. Amash also voted affirmatively on the American Health Care Act, while Massie stood strong against it, even when faced with intense pressure from the White House.