(WB) The U.S. Senate narrowly rejected Saturday morning a Republican amendment to the coronavirus relief package that would have defunded schools allowing transgender kids to participate in sports.

The amendment, introduced by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), was proposed as part of the American Rescue Plan and defeated by a vote of 49-50 largely along party lines. The measure needed 60 votes to pass as part of the $1.9 trillion package.

However, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) broke with Democrats to vote in favor of the amendment and Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska) broke with Republicans to vote against it.

Manchin’s vote for the amendment is consistent with his lack of support for the Equality Act out of concerns about guidance on students undergoing gender transition. Murkowski’s vote, on the other hand, is consistent with her declaration in 2018 she voted as a citizen at the ballot in Anchorage against a proposed anti-transgender bathroom ordinance.

Notably, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted in favor of the amendment to defund schools allowing transgender kids in sports, even though she has a reputation of being the most pro-LGBTQ Republican in the Senate. Previously, Collins has co-sponsored legislation seeking to reverse former President Trump’s transgender military ban and spoke out against a Trump administration regulation that would have allowed anti-trans discrimination in health care.

Annie Clark, a Collins spokesperson, said via email in response to a Blade inquiry on why the senator voted for the amendment the issue of transgender kids is “complex” and “needs further study.”

“Sen. Collins has been a leading advocate for transgender rights, and also for girls’ and women’s sports,” Clark said. “She believes this is a complex issue that needs further study."

The measure would have prohibited funds made available under Title II of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act of 1965 to states, local educational agencies and institutions of higher education that permit any student whose biological sex is male to participate in sports designated for women or girls, essentially barring transgender athletes from being to compete.

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