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Transgender soldiers cost U.S. less than Trump's Mar-a-Lago trips

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/27/2017 Josh Hafner
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President Trump tweeted this morning that the U.S. military wouldn't allow transgender troops "in any capacity," an apparent rejection of the military's roughly 6,000 trans troops and the Obama-era policy that embraced them.

The U.S. "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," Trump said. 

Except trans troops don't really cost that much, as many soon pointed out.

A report for the Pentagon last year found that transition-related care would cost between about $2.4 and $8.4 million per year — less than 0.14% of the military's medical budget.

That's roughly the cost of four of Trump's trips to Mar-A-Lago, GQ noted, even using a conservative estimate of $2 million per trip. And it's way less than the $84 million spent on Viagra and similar meds by the Department of Defense in 2014, as others also said.

It was, as Sen. John McCain noted, "yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter."

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President Trump listens to the Palm Beach Central High School Band as they play at his arrival at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 5, 2017. The Trumps will be watching the Super Bowl. Trump visited Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach during 7 weekends, concurrently with Mar-a-lago visits. © Susan Walsh, AP President Trump listens to the Palm Beach Central High School Band as they play at his arrival at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 5, 2017. The Trumps will be watching the Super Bowl. Trump visited Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach during 7 weekends, concurrently with Mar-a-lago visits. Commander in Tweet's actions remain unclear

Trump's tweets on trans troops caused an uproar within both parties, leading Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah to state the obvious: "Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them." 

But Trump's tweets are, for now, just tweets. It's unclear whether he needs to sign documents or whether his posts count as a presidential directive. And so their effects on those 6,000 trans troops already in the military remain unclear, too. The policy announced under Obama last summer lets transgender troops serve openly.

The response wasn't all negative: Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican of Missouri, praised Trump for sharing her "readiness and cost concerns." She did not mention concerns about the $84 million spent on Viagra.

Senate won't keep it 'clean' on Obamacare

The Senate on Wednesday voted down a bill to repeal Obamacare without any immediate plan to replace it. Like, nothing. Such a "clean repeal," as it's called, would have killed off the Affordable Care Act within two years. Only 45 senators supported the bill, which needed 51 to pass. Next up, the GOP will try to modify Obamacare via a "skinny repeal bill" and, failing that, maybe a "beer-bellied repeal bill." 

Read about Republicans' next steps to kind of, sort of defeat Obamacare.

Good news: Steve Scalise discharged from hospital

The Louisiana congressman, whom a gunman shot six weeks ago during a baseball practice of Republican lawmakers, was discharged from a Washington, D.C., hospital on Tuesday. Scalise, who was shot in the hip, suffered damage to his bones, blood vessels and organs, putting him in critical condition. He's now set to begin "intensive inpatient rehabilitation," his office said, and is "in good spirits."

Trump still hates Jeff Sessions

Trump's one-sided public feud with his own attorney general continued as the president slammed Jeff Sessions on Twitter for a third straight day

"Why didn't A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife's political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives," Trump said. 

Trump, who apparently couldn't ask Sessions himself, seemed to refer to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton supporter who backed McCabe's wife when she ran for Virginia State Senate. If you're Jeff Sessions right now, you might be wondering: Could I get my old job as a U.S. senator back? The answer is, legally speaking, maybe?

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