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Csaba Krizsan / MTI via AP

President Trump's announcement this morning banning transgender individuals from military service stated that their service would cause the military to be "burdened with tremendous medical costs and disruption." However, a 2016 study by the nonpartisan RAND Corporation on the topic indicated just the opposite.

Why it matters: The reasons that Trump and his "generals and military experts" gave for the ban don't stand up to scrutiny, and the announcement seems more of a play to his base and a distraction from his growing discontent with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

  • The numbers: RAND estimates that there are about 2,450 transgender individuals in active duty assignments and another 1,510 in the Selected Reserve.
  • The medical costs: The study showed that not all transgender individuals seek out gender transition-related health care, estimating that the total costs from gender transition among military members would be between $2.4 million and $8.4 million — 0.005% to 0.017% of all Department of Defense health care spending.
  • The disruption: Using their highest estimates, RAND found that gender transition-related health care would prevent less than 0.1% of military forces from deploying — compared to the 14% of active duty Army members prevented from deploying because of routine legal, medical, or administrative reasons.

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.