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Amid a climate of heightened political tension and controversial statements, Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado drew sharp criticism during a House debate over defense appropriations Wednesday. Specifically, Boebert aimed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness Shawn Skelly, the highest-ranking transgender official at the Pentagon.
Boebert introduced an amendment to reduce Skelly’s salary to a mere dollar, arguing that Skelly was failing at her job and a symbol of “wokeism.”
In her remarks, Boebert went as far as to misgender Skelly, offensively asserting, “This delusional man, thinking he is a woman, embodies and espouses the wokeism that’s causing significant harm to our military readiness and troop morale.”
She further argued that Skelly’s presence and policies were a distraction from the military’s primary mission, urging her colleagues “to restore the focus of our Department of Defense, to defend our nation.”
Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum offered a solid rebuttal to Boebert’s statements. McCollum emphasized the correct pronouns while speaking about Skelly and focused on the “admirable service” that LGBTQ+ individuals provide in the military. She declined to “engage in hateful rhetoric,” a clear counter to Boebert’s approach.
The clash over Skelly’s role in the Defense Department is just the latest in a series of controversial actions and statements by Boebert. The Colorado representative recently found herself embroiled in a scandal involving inappropriate behavior at a family-friendly musical. Boebert was caught on security cameras at a performance of Beetlejuice: The Musical engaged in what appeared on security camera video to be lewd behavior with her date as the pair fondled each other.
Critics of Boebert have highlighted what they see as blatant hypocrisy. The representative has been one of the more vocal members of a far-right faction within the Republican Party, working to block crucial appropriations packages and pushing anti-LGBTQ+ amendments. Yet, her recent actions, both in her personal life publicly and on the House floor, have invited scrutiny and allegations of double standards.
Moreover, members of the Congressional Equality Caucus have condemned Boebert’s behavior, citing her discriminatory comments about Skelly as reprehensible.
Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat and chair of the Equality Caucus, said, “Republicans claim to support the military, but Rep. Boebert just spent five minutes misgendering and attacking our Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness — just because she’s trans. Ms. Skelly serves our country with honor. I can’t say the same for Boebert.”