Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: CAP’s Winnie Stachelberg on the Defeat of the Discriminatory Russell Amendment in the NDAA
Press Statement

STATEMENT: CAP’s Winnie Stachelberg on the Defeat of the Discriminatory Russell Amendment in the NDAA

Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress Executive Vice President for External Affairs Winnie Stachelberg issued the following statement today after the House and Senate approved a final version of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, without the Russell Amendment, a discriminatory provision that would have rolled back employment nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, workers; women; and religious minorities in the federal contracting workforce:

In rejecting the Russell Amendment, both houses of Congress rejected discrimination. The Russell Amendment was a blatant attempt to sneak taxpayer-funded employment discrimination into the NDAA. It would have put our national security at risk in order to roll back workplace equality, including President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order extending LGBT nondiscrimination protections to 28 million people in the federal contracting workforce. Americans from all walks of life believe in rewarding people for hard work and treating our neighbors fairly. That’s why a recent CAP poll of 2016 presidential election voters showed that 75 percent of people voting for President-elect Donald Trump believe that Congress should update our civil rights laws to protect LGBT people. The incoming Congress should heed the actions of their colleagues, who today stood on the side of fairness and equality, and continue to reject discrimination in all forms.

The discriminatory language was added to the bill by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) with little debate and in the dead of night in the spring. The amendment was included in the House-passed version of the NDAA but faced bipartisan opposition and was removed during conference negotiations to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Related resources:

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at or 202.481.7141.