Pentagon ban on transgender troops 'likely' to be lifted next month

The Pentagon is "likely" to repeal its ban on transgender service members next month, defense officials told Fox News Friday, even as one report claimed an announcement could happen as soon as next week.

According to USA Today, top personnel officials could meet as soon as Monday to finalize details of the plan. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Wolk would sign off on the plan and Defense Secretary Ash Carter would give his final approval shortly before the July 4 weekend.

Pentagon officials would not confirm the USA Today report's timetable to Fox News, but spokesman Peter Cook told reporters earlier this week that a decision on the matter was coming "soon."

"I can tell you that we have made progress," said Cook. "[Carter] has indicated that he expects to make a final decision soon, and that's exactly where we are."

Late Friday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, accused Carter of putting "the political agenda of a departing administration ahead of the military’s readiness crisis."

Carter announced last year that the ban on transgender troops serving openly would be lifted unless it was proven that such an action would have a negative "impact on military effectiveness and readiness."

In his statement, Thornberry said Carter had failed to answer a series of questions posed by the committee at the time of Carter's initial announcement, including the cost of modifying barracks and bathroom facilities.

The Defense Department currently disqualifies transgender troops from the service on medical grounds. USA Today also reported that several issues related to repealing the transgender ban have caused contention at the Pentagon, most notably how long troops would need to serve before being eligible for gender reassignment surgery.

Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.

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