Why Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has hope for the GOP
Party becoming ‘more tolerant and more accepting,’ says former congresswoman and mom of transgender son

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says she’s learned a lot from her son Rodrigo. (Courtesy Ileana Ros-Lehtinen)

“Oh, a leaf blower? I’m gonna be right there!” Ileana Ros-Lehtinen shouted cheerfully. She wasn’t hollering at her husband or a sales rep at Home Depot, but at her 3-year-old grandson Dustin, who sounded like he had something very important to show her.

I caught up with the former congresswoman Friday by phone while she was vacationing in the North Carolina mountains with her stepson, daughter-in-law, a handful of grandkids and, of course, the family dog. (By the sound of a bustling full house on the other end of the line, I doubt there would’ve been room for me in person anyway.)

Violence Against Women Act clears House
Measure includes firearms restrictions and expansion of transgender rights

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick was the lone Republican co-sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act. He was one of 33 Republicans to support the measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House voted Thursday to renew the lapsed Violence Against Women Act, but the proposal stoked contention over provisions restricting gun rights and expanding rights for transgender individuals.

Lawmakers voted 263-158 to pass the measure, which highlighted divisions within the Republican caucus. While the bill does have one Republican co-sponsor, Pennsylvania’s Brian Fitzpatrick, other House Republicans objected to new provisions included in the VAWA reauthorization measure. In all, 33 Republicans voted for the measure, and one, Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, voted present.

Violence Against Women Act witness: Title IX is moot ‘because men can be women’

A House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act became a back-and-forth about gender identity politics on Thursday. Testimony from Julia Beck, former co-chair for the Baltimore City LGBTQ Commission, criticized protections for transgender women, saying that men can take advantage of these protections to harm women.

Veterans in Congress Criticize Trump’s Military Transgender Ban
Pushback against policy announcement is bipartisan

Sen. Tammy Duckworth called President Trump’s announcement banning transgender individuals from the military “discriminatory and counterproductive.”  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Veterans in Congress from across the political spectrum pushed back against President Donald Trump’s announcement banning transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military.

In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, Trump said that based on the advice of military experts, transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to “serve in any capacity in U.S. Military.” The president cited medical costs and unit disruption as part of his reasoning.

North Carolina May Be on Verge of Repealing Bathroom Bill
Special session will address state law on access by transgender people

The North Carolina state legislature building is seen in Raleigh, N.C. A special session will take up a state law that requires transgender people to use the public restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A controversial North Carolina law that restricts bathroom access for transgender individuals will be the subject of a special session of the state’s legislature Wednesday — and the incoming governor said that he had been assured by lawmakers that the law would be repealed in full.

The governor-elect, Democrat Roy Cooper, said in a statement Monday that he had been assured by Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, both Republicans, that a session would be called to deal with the law, known as HB2. Said Cooper: “I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full.”

Supreme Court Decides to Enter Transgender Bathroom Debate
Justices may stop short of settling issue nationwide

The Supreme Court will hear an appeal in the case involving a transgender boy who challenged his school district policy that prevented him from using the boy's restroom at his high school. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to step into the heated social debate about whether schools should allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice — but the justices could stop short of settling the issue nationwide.

The justices announced that they will hear an appeal in the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy who challenged a Virginia school district policy that prevented him from using the boys’ restroom at his high school.

Ep. 24: Justice Breyer's Pivotal Role
The Week Ahead

The Supreme Court begins its new term with several hot-button issues to consider, says CQ Roll Call's Legal Affairs writer Todd Ruger. A justice to watch is Stephen Breyer, who could play a pivotal role on the short-handed court in deciding transgender bathroom rights, redistricting and how it affects voting and immigration law. Show Notes:

Poll: Burr Holds Slight Lead Over Ross in North Carolina
Transgender bathroom bill a drag on GOP governor, poll shows

A poll of North Carolina voters shows incumbent Sen. Richard M. Burr holding only a 2-point lead over Democratic challenger Deborah Ross. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Monmouth University poll showed Wednesday that Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr holds only a slight lead over former North Carolina state Rep. Deborah Ross in a race that could be tilting toward the Democrats.

[Ratings Change in Two Top Senate Races]

Pentagon Lifts Transgender Ban, Lawmakers Weigh In
Policy change draws fire from Republicans

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that transgender service personnel may serve openly. (DoD photo)

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter on Thursday announced the Pentagon has lifted a ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, effective immediately.  

The policy change, which will take a year to implement fully, will allow the military to avail itself of “all talent possible” to remain the best fighting force in the world, Carter said.  

Democrats Select First Transgender Nominees in Colorado and Utah
Two 'Mistys' face stiff competition in November

Utah Democrat Misty Snow will take on incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Lee in November. (Courtesy Misty Kathrine Snow Facebook page)

Democrats in Utah and Colorado will have their first transgender nominees in the general election.  

In Utah, Misty Snow, a resident  of Salt Lake City, outpaced marriage counselor Jonathan Swinton  by almost 19 points, earning the right to take on Republican Sen. Mike Lee in November.