In a move that drew sharp criticism from across the aisle, House Republicans, led by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), successfully pushed through a controversial amendment. This amendment, which passed with a narrow three-vote margin, seeks to restrict the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from utilizing federally allocated funds to support its LGBTQ+ employees.
Despite facing unified opposition from Democrats and even one Republican, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), the amendment is unlikely to become law, given the Democratic majority in the Senate and control of the White House. Boebert, along with like-minded colleagues, has consistently employed this tactic of attaching far-right demands, often targeting the LGBTQ+ community and diversity and inclusion initiatives, to essential spending bills, jeopardizing the prospects of avoiding a government shutdown.
The scope of Boebert’s amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill is notable. It encompasses a wide array of courses and materials, including those related to “approaching LGBT issues in the workplace,” “understanding and supporting LGBTQ+ employees,” and “creating an inclusive work community” for transgender employees. This move has intensified concerns about discrimination against LGBTQ+ federal employees.
Viet Shelton, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, strongly denounced the passage of this amendment. He emphasized that moderate Republicans seem to be increasingly influenced by their party’s far-right elements, leading to the approval of legislation viewed as homophobic and discriminatory against federal employees. Shelton also pointed out the Republican party’s focus on such divisive policies, while neglecting the concerns of middle-class families grappling with rising costs, as a potential reason for their declining popularity in Congress.
As of now, the USDA has not issued an official response to this controversial amendment.