The New York Times is reporting that new religious "conscience" law allowing discrimination against LGBTQ people, and perhaps others, could block federal funding for the states, such as Mississippi, that are considering such laws:
The Obama administration is considering whether North Carolina’s new law on gay and transgender rights makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways and housing, officials said Friday.
Cutting off any federal money — or even simply threatening to do so — would put major new pressure on North Carolina to repeal the law, which eliminated local protections for gay and transgender people and restricted which bathrooms transgender people can use. A loss of federal money could send the state into a budget crisis and jeopardize services that are central to daily life.
The Times reported that several federal agencies are reviewing the funds their agencies provide to the states that are adopting discriminatory laws:
Anthony Foxx, the secretary of transportation, first raised the prospect of a review of federal funding in public remarks on Tuesday in North Carolina. The Department of Transportation provides roughly $1 billion a year to North Carolina. The New York Times then asked other federal agencies whether they were conducting similar reviews.
A Department of Education spokeswoman, Dorie Nolt, said on Friday that her agency was also reviewing the North Carolina law “to determine any potential impact on the state’s federal education funding.” She added, “We will not hesitate to act if students’ civil rights are being violated.”
The agency said it provided $4.3 billion to North Carolina last year for kindergarten through 12th grade as well as colleges.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development said it was doing a similar evaluation. “We’re reviewing the effects of the law on HUD funding allocated for North Carolina,” said Cameron French, a department spokesman.
The backers of Mississippi's HB 1523 vigorously claim that the bill isn't discrimination, but a protection of religious "conscience," even as the language of the bill belies that claim. In Mississippi, HB 1523 could go to Gov. Bryant as early as Monday for signature.
Read full coverage of the long fight for LGBT rights at jfp.ms/lgbt.