Top GOP leaders say they aren’t phased by DOJ’s threat to pull upwards of $800 million annually in federal funding
State GOP leaders in North Carolina said Thursday that they are refusing to back down from the now infamous HB2 (more commonly referred to as the “Bathroom Bill”), a law regulating which restrooms can be used by transgender persons and subsequently prohibits individual cities or local governments from passing their own legislation protecting the rights of LGBT members.
The statement comes in response to the Department of Justice (DOJ) officially notifying Republican Governor Pat McCrory on their findings that HB2 directly violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, giving the embattled Governor and the GOP-controlled legislature until Monday to address the situation publicly “by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2.”
In addition to their findings, the Justice Department noted that the state stood to potentially lose upwards of $800 million in federal education funding annually, since the landmark legislation specifically bans employment discrimination and discrimination in education based on sex and gender orientation.
At the moment, it appears the North Carolina legislature is unmoved.
“We will take no action by Monday,” House Speaker Tim Moore said Thursday afternoon, “That deadline will come and go. We don’t ever want to lose any money, but we’re not going to get bullied by the Obama administration to take action prior to Monday’s date. That’s not how this works.”
Moore added further that state leaders are trying to determine the next steps, saying “Right now we’re talking with our attorneys to see what our options are. We’re going to move at the speed that we’re going to move at to look at what our options are.”
House Democrats and civil rights advocates see things differently, noting the swiftness the law was originally passed under, and the hypocrisy that it simply cannot be repealed under the same timeline.
“HB2 became law in less than 12 hours,” said Democratic Rep. Cecil Brockman, “Five days should be more than enough time to decide how to clean up after it.”
The Justice Department’s challenge and intended threat of pulling resources has no historical precedent; however, the agency has increasingly intervened on behalf of transgender individuals alleging discrimination.
While McCrory continues to affirm his support for the bill, calling it a “very common-sense rule” before a group of business leaders Wednesday evening following the official notification from the DOJ, he also admitted that he did not know if the state would ultimately fight the Justice Department.
In a confusing twist, Senate President Phil Berger attempted to connect the DOJ’s notification with the 2016 election cycle and grassroots politicking.
“This might be part of what you’re seeing with both the Bernie Sanders and the Trump pushes,” he said in reference to presidential candidates who have radically differing opinions on LGBT rights, “People are angry, and one of the reasons they’re angry is because of the failure – particularly of the federal government – to do the things that the people know need to be done, and yet they go off on a tangent like this and push radical social engineering.”
Perhaps the most sickening response to the DOJ’s notification unsurprisingly came from the Christian Action League of North Carolina, an evangelical state group and primary backers of HB2.
“At the hands of his henchmen in the U.S. Department of Justice, King Obama has delivered his message of intimidation to the state of North Carolina,” executive director Mark Creech said Thursday on Facebook, “The Great Pontiff of Political Correctness holds the educational futures of our state’s children hostage, while dangling the money bags of federal funds over their heads, demanding in exchange North Carolina bow to the madness of obliterating male and female distinctives.”