Montana’s Congressman, Ryan Zinke, likes to decry what he sees as efforts to politicize funding for the military and the troops that serve our country. Today, however, during a House vote on a military spending bill, he cast the deciding vote against an amendment that would have stripped discriminatory language from the National Defense Authorization Act.
Wednesday, the House passed the annual NDAA with a provision that would allow discrimination against LGBT people. ThinkProgress describes the wide-ranging implications of the provision, which is so badly written that it would permit discrimination by almost any federal contractor:
Members of the caucus criticized the amendment’s sweeping language, which makes every contract, subcontract, grant, cooperative agreement, and purchase order awarded by every federal agency eligible for a “religious exemption” from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rep. Richard Hanna (R) told the Republican Congressional leaders that the amendment’s vague language “could be exploited as a license to discriminate against LGBT Americans by almost any federal contractor” — not just defense contractors.
It’s such a heavy-handed display of bigotry that President Obama has already indicated that he will veto the NDAA with the discriminatory provision, meaning that voting to retain the bigoted language is a vote to delay funding for the military. Even the Republican-led Senate hasn’t included an amendment with the same provisions.
Last year, Zinke criticized Democrats for delaying the passage of the NDAA, saying that delaying its passage was “dangerous and it’s wrong. Do the right thing. Help give our troops the resources they need and the pay they deserve.”
So Representative Zinke was faced with a decision: he could buck the bigoted party leadership and vote to both protect equal rights and timely funding for the military or he could pander to retrograde extremists. In the shameful chaos of the House vote, Representative Zinke came down against protecting equality and against giving American servicemen and women the resources they need.
It was another shameful vote in a career already filled with them. If only there were some institution in our state tasked with holding him accountable for his record.