Obama admin threatens to withhold billions from North Carolina over bathroom privacy law
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 6, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Obama Administration is making noises about cutting North Carolina off from federal funding after last month’s legislative move by the governor and some state lawmakers to protect the state’s residents’ privacy and safety.
Administration officials announced Friday they were reviewing whether the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act overturning a Charlotte city ordinance allowing men to use women’s restrooms and showers should result in the federal government withholding funding for schools, highways and housing, to the tune of billions of dollars.
Experts have indicated that such an extreme step was not likely, at least not right away, according to The Charlotte Observer, but the administration’s review is sending a message to North Carolina that there could be consequences for its new law.
In addition to repealing the Charlotte ordinance, the new law limits municipalities’ ability to enact laws with special protection based upon "gender identity," and mandates that all public educational and government organizations have restrooms and locker rooms designated by biological sex.
The first branch of the Obama Administration making threats to cut funding was the Department of Transportation, when Secretary Anthony Foxx said March 29 his office was looking at the legislation to determine if there would be a loss of federal transportation funding to North Carolina. The state gets around $1 billion from the Department of Transportation each year.
“It’s incredibly hard for me to watch what’s happening here in North Carolina because I know fundamentally this isn’t who we are,” Foxx, the former mayor of Charlotte, said while speaking there last month. “But ultimately people have to remember that the people they elect make these decisions, and they’ve got to think about that moving forward.”
Department of Education spokeswoman Dorie Nolt said last Friday that the agency was reviewing the North Carolina law “to determine any potential impact on the state’s federal education funding,” adding, “We will not hesitate to act if students’ civil rights are being violated.”
The Education Department gave $4.3 billion to North Carolina last year between K- 12 schools and colleges.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development indicated it was reviewing the law for possible revocation of federal funds as well, with Department spokesman Cameron French confirming, “We’re reviewing the effects of the law on HUD funding allocated for North Carolina.”
While there’s no recent example of the federal government using comparable pressure to quash a state law it views as discriminatory, federal agencies have applied pressure with the threat of lost funds on some California and Illinois municipal governments, pushing them to change policies to allow “transgender” students to use the restrooms of the opposite gender.
Businesses critical of the law include, among many others, Google, Microsoft, Barnes & Noble, Levi & Strauss, Twitter, Starbucks, Wells Fargo, Facebook, and Apple.
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi sent a letter to McCrory calling for consideration of rescinding the law when the General Assembly convenes later this month. Saying she was taken aback by the law and McCrory's opting to sign it so quickly, Nooyi said the measure is "completely inconsistent" with the way her company treats its workers and weakens efforts to advance North Carolina's long-term interests.
The NCAA and NBA have opposed the North Carolina law as well.
The pile-on of North Carolina hasn’t been limited to corporations, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal and Equality North Carolina filing suit to overturn the law.
Numerous states and municipalities have banned all but essential government travel to North Carolina in backlash over the bill. States include New York, Washington, Connecticut, and Minnesota, and cities include New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston.
PayPal said in an April 5 statement it would not move ahead with a planned expansion in Charlotte due to the law, claiming the law “perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.”
North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest issued a statement the same day in response to the PayPal decision.
"If our action in keeping men out of women's bathrooms and showers protected the life of just one child or one woman from being molested or assaulted, then it was worth it,” Forest said. “North Carolina will never put a price tag on the value of our children. They are precious and priceless. If a corporation wanting to do business in North Carolina does not see the worth of our children in the same light, then I wish them well as they do business somewhere else."