Republican Rep. Steve Russell says he has received private assurances from Trump’s team that federal contractors will be granted “religious freedom” protections that would likely enable them to discriminate against workers on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
The Oklahoman with a “0” score from the Human Rights Campaign and author of the anti-LGBT Russell amendment on this year’s defense spending bill says he’s feeling good that Trump will make moves in favor of so-called “religious freedom”–moves that could spell disaster for LGBT rights.
“These issues will be resolved, and we have gotten some very good assurances moving forward,” Russell said at the Capitol, suggesting Trump could take executive action without waiting for Congress. “I am certainly encouraged by the signs that I am getting from the administration that is inbound.”
Russell said he has “gotten very positive signals” that Trump team would step in where his amendment was blocked, but added that he was not going “to talk strategy or predispose what the executive branch may do,” specifically, on the matter.
Russell went on to insinuate that President Obama’s 2014 executive order–which barred federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity–could be replaced by a new one from Trump.
Referring to President Obama’s EO, Russell told BuzzFeed, “The vagueness was created by the executive branch, so the executive branch [under Trump] could un-create the vagueness. You reverse it by clarifying a bad executive order with a good one.”
As for the reason why the Russell Amendment was dropped earlier this week, it seems that Republicans think they can get a better deal if they wait til Trump’s installed. Adam Smith, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said the amendment’s proponents “were confident they would have a better environment for a variety of different issues in the new administration.” He added, “It worries me a great deal.”