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GOP Sen. Joni Ernst Breaks From Trump, Supports Transgender Military Service

Sen. Joni Ernst

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the first female combat veteran elected to the U.S. Senate, has broken with Donald Trump on his anti-transgender military policy.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” the first-term senator who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said trans people who are qualified to be in the U.S. armed forces “should serve” and she would welcome them.

From The Washington Blade:

“I have asked transgenders myself, if you are willing to lay down your life beside me, I would welcome you into our military,” Ernst said.

The Iowa Republican, however, emphasized transgender people must “meet physical requirements” for being in the military and she’d “support the president and the administration in making sure that standards are met.”

“If there are transgenders that meet those qualifications, certainly I would gladly have them serving in the United States military,” Ernst added.

Asked by CBS News’ Margaret Brennan if she’d call on Trump to change his position, Ernst demurred, but said she’s happy to talk with the administration.

“I think the White House has done a very studied analysis of how we have the best qualified people coming into the military, and so, I’m happy to have those discussions with the administration, but, again, making sure that those standards are applied fairly across the spectrum of every citizen that wants to join our United States military,” Ernst said.

Ernst’s comments come just days after Trump announced his plans to keep his ban on transgender service in the military following a report by Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Currently four federal courts have injunctions blocking Trump’s ban.

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