Republicans on the House Appropriations committee stripped funding from three projects aimed at providing services to the LGBTQ+ community during Tuesday’s fiscal Department of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations markup, turning an ordinarily uneventful process into a tense and antagonizing meeting.
The earmarks House Republicans stripped funding from — a total of $3.62 million — were for three housing projects, two in Massachusetts and one in Pennsylvania, that would benefit members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The two projects in Philadelphia — requested by Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) — were for the expansion of William Way Community Center LGBT Community Center and a transitional housing program at the LGBT Center of Greater Reading. The third earmark was requested by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) for the LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc., to convert a former Boston Public School building into 74 units of affordable housing for seniors.
The move to strike three LGBTQ+ focused projects from the 2024 markup is yet another example of House Republicans’ targeting the supposedly “woke” priorities of Democrats, derailing the usual rhythms of legislating on Capitol Hill in an attempt to own the liberals they love to hate on.
The amendment to strike funding for the projects was introduced by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) and among the most outspoken defenders of the amendment was former Trump administration Interior Secretary Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT).
Last week, MAGA House Republicans similarly threw a wrench into what is historically a drama-free set of votes around the National Defense Authorization Act — the legislation that authorizes the annual budget for the U.S. military. A group of Freedom Caucus members forced votes on, and successfully added amendments to, the annual defense policy bill curtailing access to abortion for military personnel as well as ending diversity training and limiting funding for gender affirming surgeries and treatments.
The House’s MAGAfied version of the NDAA would not be able to pass the Democratic-led Senate, setting up a later fight between the chambers. It is a prime example of MAGA Republicans flexing their power in their caucus and over the Speaker, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), whose power is constrained by the House GOP’s razor-thin majority.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), an LGBTQ member of Congress, said the committee’s move to strip the earmarks was “bigoted” and “insane.”
He accused the Republican members of fostering hate against LGBTQ+ community, recalling the hate he was subjected to earlier in his career.
“When I first ran for office, where they wrote ‘dead faggot’ over your face and sent [the article] to you in the mail,” Pocan recalled in remarks during the meeting. “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 faggot.”
“This is what you guys do, by introducing amendments like this,” Pocan said. “Taking away from people’s earmarks is absolutely below the dignity of Congress, and certainly the Appropriations Committee.”
He was joined by others.
“In all the two years that I dealt and this committee dealt with community projects, never once, never once did we challenge any Republican project,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the ranking Democrat on the panel, said in response to the cuts. “We said, you do what you want to do and we do what we want. And that has been destroyed today.”
Meanwhile, the Democrats who had their requested funding denied were furious with the cuts.
“It is unconscionable that Republican committee members would hold senior citizen-specific housing hostage and continue their dangerous national trend of targeting the LGBTQ+ community,” Pressley said in a statement, according to Roll Call.
Meanwhile Houlahan took to Twitter, saying, “This cruel and unjust decision is not rooted in any legitimacy, but instead in bigotry and hatred.”