President Donald Trump signed a bill on Wednesday that lifts Obama-style restrictions on how transgender people can serve in the military and is likely to be signed into law soon.
The Republican-led Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill, which includes a provision allowing transgender service members to enlist without having to undergo sex-change surgery.
Trump signed the measure on a conference call with Republican lawmakers, with Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin also joining him.
The president called the bill “historic” and said it was needed to ensure our military is a safe, inclusive environment.
The military’s policy on transgender people has been controversial, with some experts arguing the practice is dangerous and harmful to troops.
Baldwin, who was the first transgender woman to serve as a member of the military in 2004, said the repeal of the policy would allow the military to continue its commitment to ensuring that all Americans can serve safely and honorably.
“It’s important for us to continue to put in place policies that allow all of our service members the opportunity to be true to themselves, and that allows us to maintain our military as an institution that is safe, respectful, and capable of protecting all Americans,” she said.
The White House said in a statement that Trump signed the bill to restore the Obama-imposed transgender ban, which was blocked by a Supreme Court ruling.
The measure was approved on a 52-48 vote in the Senate.
The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 72-20, and the White House is expected to sign it into law in the coming days.
The repeal of Obama-issued transgender ban was blocked in the Supreme Court in 2016, but the ban was reinstated last year by a two-thirds majority in the House.
Trump had threatened to veto a repeal of a policy that allows transgender people to serve openly, which he said was a violation of the U.S. Constitution.