WASHINGTON – The list of Senate Republicans drawing President Donald Trump into public feuds grows longer by the day, but one man who has planted himself firmly on the White House’s side has been Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue. That’s what makes it so notable when he breaks from the president’s line.
The first-term Republican senator gingerly walked past that line on Friday, when he told a group of reporters in Atlanta that he personally would not want to bar transgender troops from the military.
Trump, you might remember, surprised even his closest White House aides last month when he announced on Twitter -- in the middle of the Senate health care debate, no less -- that he would bar transgender people from serving in the armed forces. The military, he said, “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption."
Most congressional Republicans swiftly denounced Trump’s decision or kept silent. For a while, it appeared that Perdue was one of the only Senate Republicans defending the president’s decision.
He told MIC at the time:
“I don’t think this is the time to have a social agenda conversation,” Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said. “I think [Trump] is well within his rights [to impose the ban].”
Which brings us back to Friday, when Perdue elaborated on his position. He told reporters that he personally believes transgender people should be able to serve, but qualified that the government should not pay for any surgeries.
From the Marietta Daily Journal:
“Yeah,” he said. “We have gays in the military. We have transgenders in the military. But what I don’t think is right is for people to sign up for the military and then have all of that surgery paid for by the military. I don’t think that’s right.”
Perdue qualified his response by referencing the nation’s $20 trillion debt.
“Every dollar we spend on the military today is borrowed,” he said.
As far as policy rifts go in Washington, this one is fairly small. But it's notable given just how much of a loyal foot soldier Perdue has been for Trump since the New York real estate magnate seized the GOP nomination for president.
The only other public difference of opinion we can remember between the two is over the border-adjustment tax proposal, which Trump briefly eyed this spring. Perdue said the plan, which would have taxed imports but exempted exports, was "regressive, hammers consumers and shuts down economic growth."