WALLER, Texas (Nexstar) — United States Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he supported President Donald Trump’s proposal to block transgender people from serving in the Armed Forces.
Perry made the comments after touring an air conditioning equipment manufacturing facility in Waller, Texas, on Friday, speaking at a town hall-style meeting with employees following his tour.
At the conclusion of his visit, Perry, an Air Force veteran, said, “I totally support the president and his decision” to prevent transgender people from serving in the military.
He said he felt the president made “good decisions about making sure that we have a force that is capable.”
“I’ve never had a conversation with him,” Perry continued, “But I think that his — the idea that the American people need to be paying for these types of operations to change your sex is not very wise from a standpoint of economics.”
Trump’s tweets prompted both support and outrage.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump said in a series of tweets on Wednesday.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
According to a Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Department of Defense, the total cost of health care coverage for transgender people in the military, including those transitioning, amounted to between $2.4 million and $8.4 million per year.
Comparatively small, when placed alongside the $84 million that is said to be spent yearly on erectile dysfunction medications from the Defense Department’s budget, according to the Military Times.
Perry, the former governor of Texas, was asked about that comparison, to which he replied, “You know what, I don’t check on the price of Viagra.”
During Perry’s visit to Daikin Texas Technology Park, a manufacturing facility for heating, ventilation and cooling products, he touted the company’s commitment to the future of energy and job creation in the country.
“Our effort in this country is about making America more competitive. Making America a place where it’s our products from a quality standpoint, from a pride standpoint, makes America great again,” he said.
“A road map to a very sustainable future is real,” Perry said to the group. Through innovation, through job creation. There are a lot of Americans, a lot of Texans who enjoy a better life because of what this company does.”
“One of the reasons why I’m very comfortable working for this administration is that they want to see that growth, they want to see American jobs being created, they want to see good paying jobs, they want to see economic development,” Perry added.
Before leaving, he acknowledged that the Department of Energy, which he now runs, was on his list of departments to ax during his run for president in 2012.
“[It’s a] moment I get reminded of on a regular basis,” Perry said with a smile. “I didn’t know what that agency did in that particular point in time.”