An ordinarily uneventful budget markup turned explosive Tuesday when Republicans on the House Appropriations committee unexpectedly stripped money for three projects benefiting the LGBTQ community from the Transportation Department and HUD funding bill.
The highly unusual GOP maneuver triggered a ferocious dispute with Democrats.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis. assailed the Republican move as “insane” and accused GOP members of fostering the types of hate crimes against LGBTQ people that he faced earlier in his own life, “when I first ran for office, where they wrote dead f—t over your face and sent [the newspaper article] to you in the mail. Or the time that when I wasn’t out yet, left the gay bars, and people followed me and beat me with a baseball bat until I was bloodied and unconscious and called me a f—t.”
The committee’s top Democrat, Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, compared it to “negotiating with terrorists” and attacked the influence of the Freedom Caucus. DeLauro later withdrew her comments from the record, though the panel recessed three times over eight hours due to the intense split. One observer called it “the ugliest committee markup I remember in ages.”
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said his amendment was intended to remove “problematic funding” from the bill. Other Republicans like Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont. argued federal dollars should be barred from paying for gender-affirming medical care.
The nixed earmarks include a project in Massachusetts that would have channeled $850,000 to an LGBTQ group providing housing services. Another would have set aside $1.8 million for a community center in Pennsylvania providing social services to the LGBTQ community.
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., had requested $970,000 for the LGBT Center of Greater Reading. She said the GOP move was “bigotry on display” and swiped at Zinke for mispronouncing the city’s name.
“My community says they want this. The people who are standing up there can’t even pronounce the city of Reading,” Houlahan told Semafor. “They don’t live there.”
The final vote was 33-26 along party lines.
An earlier version of this story listed the wrong state for Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s district.