Eight House Republicans voted Friday with their Democratic counterparts for the Equality Act, which would broaden the definition of protected classes to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
The bill, a Democratic priority, passed 236-173 amid passionate speeches from both Republicans and Democrats. Debate over the bill was partisan, and at times, tense.
There were 23 members of the house who didn’t vote, including three Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination — Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Tim Ryan of Ohio and Eric Swalwell of California.
Out of 240 co-sponsors of the legislation, three were Republicans: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, John Katko of New York and
Res. Cmmsr. Jenniffer González-Colón of Puerto Rico. Fitzpatrick and Katko voted for the bill Friday. (Representatives of territories like González-Colón only get to vote in committee, not on final floor passage of legislation.)
House Democrats say the bill would ensure that an LGBT individual would not be denied health care, which could include counseling, well exams or hormone treatment.
GOP lawmakers said the measure would weaken religious protections for health workers. Others questioned the definition of gender identity in the legislation, explained as “gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of their sex at birth.”
The House bill is unlikely to be taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate.
In addition to Fitzpatrick and Katko, six other Republicans broke with their party on the bill: Susan W. Brooks of Indiana; Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida; Will Hurd of Texas; Tom Reed and Elise Stefanik of New York; and Greg Walden of Oregon.
The conservative group American Principles Project said in a news release Friday that the Republican supporters of the bill should be voted out of office.
“The eight Republicans who joined the Democrats today in supporting this bill have especially betrayed the people they were elected to represent,” Terry Schilling, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “They should now expect electoral consequences.” Several of the Republicans who voted with Democrats on Friday had already broken ranks on votes on divisive issues in the past few months.
Fitzpatrick, Hurd, Stefanik and Walden were among the 13 Republicans who rebuked President Donald Trump by supporting a Democratic effort to block his national emergency declaration to fund a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
That measure also passed the Senate, but was ultimately vetoed by the president.
Fitzpatrick, Katko, Reed and Stefanik also joined their Democratic colleagues condemning the Trump administration’s support for invalidating the 2010 health care law in its entirety.
Erin Bacon and Sandhya Raman contributed to this report.