Blasts Democrats for prioritizing an intrusive bill requiring federal surveys to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity
WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) today delivered remarks on the House floor in opposition to H.R. 4176, the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act, a bill that requires federal agencies to collect highly sensitive information from the American people. Ranking Member Comer blasted Democrats for prioritizing this bill while Americans face record inflation, skyrocketing gas prices, supply chain shortages, a worsening border crisis, and surging drug overdoses. He outlined his many concerns with the Democrats’ bill, including concerns about privacy, allowing proxies to fill out surveys on someone’s behalf, and asking children about sexual orientation and gender identity, and called on members to oppose the bill.
Below are Ranking Member Comer remarks as prepared for delivery.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
The LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act requires federal agencies to collect highly sensitive information from the American people.
With Americans facing record inflation, record gas prices, supply chain shortages, and skyrocketing drug overdoses, it is unbelievable this is House Democrats’ priority.
Mortgage rates are at their highest level since 2008.
Inflation rates are at their highest in 40 years.
Nationally, gas prices are averaging over $5.00 per gallon.
There is a severe shortage of baby formula across our country.
It has been a free-for-all at the southern border since President Biden took office, both for illegal immigrants and deadly drugs.
The House majority is ignoring these issues.
They have also ignored the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, the origins of the COVID pandemic, and the impact of shutdowns and school closures on American children.
Instead, today we are considering a divisive bill.
A bill that does nothing to address Americans’ problems.
H.R. 4176 requires federal agencies to include questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity on their surveys.
There are over 130 such surveys across the federal agencies.
This includes the census.
My colleagues across the aisle oppose asking whether someone is an American citizen on the census because they say it could deter participation.
But they want to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity, information many Americans would not want to share with the federal government.
This could certainly reduce response rates to the census and a host of statistical surveys our government relies on to inform important policy decisions.
And I would remind my House colleagues that asking these questions during a job interview is illegal.
In fact, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects against employment discrimination on the basis of sex.
This has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Yet House Democrats want the federal government to ask Americans about this most private of information.
My Democrat colleagues claim this bill will expand funding and services for those who identify as LGBTQI+.
But they haven’t specified funding and for what services.
We also don’t know how agencies will actually use this information.
And we don’t know how bad actors would exploit this information.
Federal agencies are constantly the targets of cyberattacks and subject to leaks.
A Chinese attack on the Office of Personnel Management exposed the data of millions of Americans.
The Internal Revenue Service has leaked tax return information on high-profile Americans to the press.
This information could be used for harmful purposes, so Americans may be reluctant to risk answering a survey entirely.
House Democrats say that these intrusive questions will remain optional under the bill, but we all know the pressure respondents will feel to answer a federal agency survey.
And in fact, the bill has been amended by the Rule to strike the “Exemption from Penalty” provision which protected survey respondents from fine or other penalty if they refused to answer a question.
Why did this language need to be removed if the questions are optional?
Are they planning to penalize respondents for not answering questions about their sexuality and gender?
We do not know why, and that’s because this bill hasn’t gone through any due diligence.
Another troubling part of the bill is how it allows observers or proxies to fill out these surveys on behalf of others.
Should we really have other people answering highly personal questions about somebody else on a federal agency survey?
Republicans don’t think so.
A proxy could make a guess.
Or a person would have to tell this proxy their sexual orientation or gender identity—something they might not want to discuss.
When the House Oversight Committee considered the bill last week, Committee Republicans supported an amendment offered by Rep. Michael Cloud to strike this provision, but Committee Democrats rejected it.
And House Republicans also have concerns about presenting children with questions about sexual orientation or gender identity.
Why should a minor be confronted by such topics?
For instance, the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, & Wildlife-Associated Recreation includes respondents as young as six years old.
Federal surveys are no place to confront the American people—or their children—with intrusive questions and concerns about sexual orientation or gender identity.
Especially when parents are worried about this agenda with an ever-evolving list of identities.
It’s hard to keep up.
Many parents have grave concerns that advocates of this agenda are seeking to indoctrinate their children and drive a wedge within their families.
And this bill confirms some of these concerns by allowing these questions to be directed to children.
Democrats have not addressed—or even acknowledged—these concerns.
In the Committee markup of H.R. 4176, my colleague Congressman Glenn Grothman offered an amendment to prohibit the collection of this information from minors.
Committee Democrats voted this sensible amendment down unanimously.
What’s more telling is House Democrat leadership have refused to make either Rep. Grothman’s or Rep. Cloud’s amendment in order today.
I wonder why the House majority refuses to consider an amendment aimed at protecting children.
These amendments address important issues.
The American people’s Representatives should be able to vote on them before sending this troubling bill to the Senate.
Mr. Speaker, the American people deserve better from this legislative body.