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Discriminatory Provision Removed From Defense Department Bill

A controversial provision that would have required that all federal agencies allow religiously affiliated contractors and grantees to discriminate in hiring with taxpayer funds has been removed from the national defense bill.

Americans United was among dozens of organizations that opposed what became known as the Russell Amendment for its sponsor, U.S. Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.).

Congress Rejected Russell: Let’s Celebrate, But There Are More Fights Ahead

Today, the Senate voted to adopt a final negotiated version of the National Defense Authorization Act. The House approved the same bill last week. Notably, the bill does not include the Russell Amendment, a sweeping provision that would have sanctioned taxpayer-funded employment discrimination. This is a clear win for fairness, equality and the freedom of religion and belief.

Going On The Offense Over Defense

The 2016 presidential election dominated the headlines for months. But even as that struggle played out, a political showdown was taking place in the U.S. Congress that could end with religious discrimination being enshrined in our nation’s laws.

The drama centered on the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill, which funds the Department of Defense and its military operations, is considered must-pass legislation. Thus, it often attracts amendments that promote socially conservative views on military issues.

In Congress, The Fight Against Discrimination Is Now

Many people around the country are focused on the next president and Congress and preparing to fight back against the dangerous policy proposals we expect to see in the months ahead.

We have our work cut out for us, but can’t overlook the fact that the current Congress still has work to do. Lawmakers returned to Washington yesterday and, in the remaining days of 2016, will be considering some dangerous policy proposals of their own. In other words, the fight is now.