Rep. Steve Russell is still licking his wounds after his sweeping religious freedom amendment was snipped out of a federal defense-spending bill passed in the House on Friday.
But he may be getting the last cartoon villain cackle. As Buzzfeed reports, the almost-upon-us Trump administration has given him “very good assurances” that it will be addressing the issue once all of his hobgoblins are in place.
“These issues will be resolved,” he said at the Capital, “and we have gotten some very good assurances moving forward.”
Suggesting President-Elect Trump could take executive action without bothering to wait for Congress, Russell said, “I am certainly encouraged by the signs that I am getting from the administration that is inbound.”
He again intones that he has “gotten very positive signals” that Trump’s cabinet will be taking strides to implement the blocked amendment, cautiously adding that he wasn’t going to “talk strategy or predispose what the executive branch may do.”
If passed, the Russell Amendment would effectively allow federal contractors to discriminate against the LGBTQ community on supposed religious grounds.
Democrats argued the measure was created solely to undermine President Obama’s 2014 executive order banning LGBTQ discrimination by federal contractors.
Senator John McCain declined to comment when asked by Buzzfeed News why the Russell Amendment was torn out of the National Defense Authorization Act, but it sounds like he’d be quite happy to consider the legislation again in the future.
“As a general outlook,” he says, “I think those religious-based organizations should be allowed to make decisions that are in keeping with their religious beliefs.”
Activists are intensely concerned that Trump will start reversing LGBTQ rights upon sidling into office, perhaps scrapping Obama’s 2014 order or further elaborating George W. Bush’s 2002 order that protests religious rights of social service groups.
On January 20, 2017, Trump will be sitting beside Barack Obama in a sleek stretch limousine, which will be driving the two men towards the Capitol for the Inauguration, which will take place at noon. It’s anyone’s bet what happens next.