Republicans Now Lead the House Education Committee. Their First Bill Is a Trans College Athletes Ban.
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- The U.S. House of Representatives' committee on education met for its first "markup" session Wednesday.
- Republicans repeatedly used the time to bring up traditional anti-trans talking points.
- Outspoken Democrats attempted to invalidate the bill by adding new amendments.
Republican leadership made their education priorities clear during the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce's first "markup" hearing.
The committee, now led by Republican U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, kicked off its first markup meeting by discussing the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act. The proposal would bar any institution that accepts federal funding from allowing a person assigned "male" at birth from participating in an athletic program or activity designated for women.
Notably, the bill does not prevent transgender men from participating in men's sports.
Committee discussion was unsurprisingly partisan. Republicans who spoke supported the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, while Democrats repeatedly spoke out in opposition.
Republican support of the bill was often based on traditional anti-trans talking points. That included the sentiment that transgenderism doesn't exist to begin with and that a person cannot change their gender identity from what they were assigned at birth.
U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah, the bill's sponsor, said allowing transgender women to participate in women's sports "steals" scholarship opportunities from other women athletes.
Democrats opposing the bill, meanwhile, highlighted the mental health benefits of allowing trans women to join teams that match their gender identity.
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington introduced a proposed amendment to rename the bill the "Stigmatizing Vulnerable Children Act."
Other Democrats noted that there are only 34 transgender athletes currently participating in collegiate women's sports out of 110,000 total women athletes. They questioned why this is a priority for Republicans given the size of the target population.
The most vocal supporters of the bill included Republicans:
- U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, North Carolina, chair of the committee
- U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens, Utah, sponsor of the bill
- U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, Illinois
- U.S. Rep. Bob Good, Virginia
The most ardent critics of the bill included Democrats:
- U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, Virginia, ranking member of the minority party in the committee
- U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon
- U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, California
- U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Washington
- U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, North Carolina
- U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, Florida
- U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, Arizona
- U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, Connecticut
The fact that the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act was the first bill designated for markup by this committee in this new Congress may be a sign to come for the next two years.
Republicans hold a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, while Democrats have a slim majority in the U.S. Senate. So while the bill may pass the House, it is highly unlikely ever to be signed into law under this Congress.