After President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he intends to reinstate the ban on transgender people serving in the military, Sen. John McCain had some tough words for the president. "Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving," the Arizona Republican said in a statement. "There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity."
Earlier, Trump tweeted that the transgender military ban, which was lifted only last year while President Obama was still in office, would be reinstated. "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump wrote in a series of tweets, citing the "tremendous medical costs and disruption" of having transgender service members.
McCain, who called the president's statement "unclear," also criticized Trump for making such a major policy reversal on Twitter. "The President's tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter," McCain said.
After being diagnosed with brain cancer last week, McCain returned to Washington D.C. on Tuesday for the dramatic procedural vote on whether the Senate should debate Obamacare-repeal legislation. He helped his fellow Republican senators pass the motion, which means the Senate will now consider Obamacare alternatives, repeal-only measures, and a so-called "skinny" repeal — a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
After the Tuesday vote — which drew protestors who chanted "Kill the bill! Don't kill us!" — McCain gave a speech in which he called for greater cooperation among legislators and the end to partisanship.
McCain is not the only Republican member of Congress to break with Trump on his decision to reinstate the transgender service ban. Sen. Orrin Hatch said in a statement:
I don't think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them. I look forward to getting much more information and clarity from our military leaders about the policy the president tweeted today.
Speaking on CNN, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama expressed a similar sentiment. "That would be a reversal of the current policy," Shelby told CNN. "You ought to treat everybody fairly and give everybody a chance to serve."
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida, agreed with McCain, sharing his statement on Twitter and noting, "I'm with war hero
@SenJohnMcCain: patriotism knows no sexual orientation/gender identity. All who want 2 serve shld."