Lawmakers fume over ban on pride flags included in spending bill to avert shutdown – Washington Examiner

A niche policy rider that House Republicans tucked into text for the final appropriations legislation has fanned culture war flames heading into a critical vote on Friday.

Among the provisions included in the $1 trillion minibus legislation is one that seeks to restrict the type of flags flown over State Department facilities, such as American embassies, a flashpoint for socially conservative House GOP members since some embassies began raising the gay pride rainbow flag during the Obama administration.

For House Democrats who are members of the LGBT community, however, the policy rider hits closer to home.

“House Republicans should be ashamed of themselves,” Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “Forcing their own discriminatory views on the men and women serving our country abroad is downright un-American.“

Under the final spending deal to avert a government shutdown, the appropriated funds cannot be “obligated or expended” to fly a flag over such buildings that are not the U.S. flag, the Foreign Service flag, the POW/MIA flag, the Hostage and Wrongful Detainee flag, a flag representing a state or District of Columbia at domestic locations, an Indian Tribal flag, an agency flag, or a sovereign flag of other countries.

This policy rider builds off of House GOP efforts over recent years to push back against the display of pride flags or other flags symbolic of other cultural movements, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has promoted the policy rider as a victory for Republicans as he tries to garner enough support from his party to push the spending deal over the finish line with a House vote slated for Friday. Republicans applauded when Johnson announced the ban in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday.

Several members have taken legislative steps to prohibit the display of the pride flag. In 2023, Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) and Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced the One Flag For All Act in response to the White House flying the pride flag. Other members, such as Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), have introduced similar measures.

In 2021, Duncan introduced the “Old Glory Only Act” and said he took on the cause to push back against the display of the pride flag because he learned an embassy displayed a rainbow flag in South America.

Rep. Becca Balint (D-VA) told the Washington Examiner that Republicans “can’t help themselves” when it comes to attacking the LGBT community.

“These people have nothing freakin better to do than beat up on the LGBTQ community,” Balint said. 

“It’s just like, they’re obsessed, and these people just need to live their lives,” she added. “My community, we just want to live our lives.”

White House administrations have fallen along party lines regarding flag display rules as well. In 2019, the State Department under the Trump administration rejected requests from several embassies to fly the pride flag on the facilities’ pole during June, which is LGBT Pride Month. However, under the Biden administration, the State Department reversed course and allowed for the pride flag to fly on the flagpole shortly after taking office.

Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL) expressed disappointment that the policy rider had to be added because it should be an “understood thing.” 

The flag rider joins many other policies that fall under a larger banner of diversity, equity, and inclusion provisions that Republicans have been looking to slash or eliminate altogether.

Mills said the flag policy points to a larger issue that the DEI and critical race theory agenda pushed Democrats has a “negative impact” on military academies and recruitment strategies. 

“I don’t think that we should be flying flags that sow division by thinking that it somehow creates some kind of inclusion,” Mills said to the Washington Examiner. “I think it does the opposite.” 


“I just personally think that it’s sad that we have to state these things,” he added.

The prohibition of unapproved flags would only last until the end of the funding deal, which will expire on Sept. 30. Congress must pass the spending legislation before Saturday to avert a partial government shutdown.