Legislative Update for June 7, 2013

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Last week, the House and Senate were both out of session for Memorial Day.They have returned for a four-week stretch, and we expect they will be busy!


Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: On Tuesday, Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-Arizona) Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice passed his bill, H.R. 1797, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act by a vote of 6-4.This legislation has been expanded so that it is a national prohibition on aborting pain-capable, unborn children after twenty weeks gestation (post-fertilization age). The most common form of late-term abortion is dismemberment abortion, where steel tools brutally rip apart and remove the baby’s arms and legs. Currently, during fetal surgery, both the mother and the baby are given medication to manage pain.It is atrocious that abortions are allowed in this country with utter disregard for the pain these little babies experience. CWALAC expects the full Judiciary Committee to consider this bill next week and hold a vote by the entire House around July 4.Please call your representative and ask him/her to cosponsor and support this important legislation. Click here to find your representative.

National Defense Authorization Act for 2014 (NDAA): After an all-day mark-up on Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee passed the NDAA. CWALAC is pleased that two religious liberty amendments were included in the bill. Rep. John Fleming’s (R-Louisiana) amendment which stops the Pentagon from restricting religious beliefs, speech, and actions except in cases of military necessity, and Rep. Walter Jones’ (R-North Carolina) amendment allows chaplains to pray “in Jesus’ name.” CWALAC also supported Rep. Doug Lamborn’s (R-Colorado) amendment to require the Pentagon to provide all background information on women in combat. The only “taboo” amendment, because of the fear surrounding the “war against women,” was one that Rep. Fleming was prepared to offer to ensure that women did not have to register for Selective Service and were not eligible for the draft. The House will likely vote on the NDAA on Wednesday, and the Senate will likely consider it later this month.

Conscience Mandate: Below is a statement by Rep. Jenkins (R-Kansas), which we first reported in our May 24 article about Hobby Lobby.It is remarkable because Rep. Jenkins is not someone we usually reach out to and ask to carry water for us on the Hill, but she is committed to protecting conscience.Read what she says:

“I am committed to protecting individuals’ rights of conscience, and believe we need to protect Americans’ fundamental liberties, which is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. No individual should be forced by the federal government to violate their moral or religious convictions.

“H.R. 940 would amend the president’s terrible healthcare law to ensure the federal government cannot require individuals, charities, or businesses to buy insurance coverage that includes items or services against their moral or religious values and beliefs. It would also ensure that recipients of state, local, or federal government funds cannot discriminate against any health care organization or worker for abiding by their conscience and refusing to provide, train, or refer for abortion services.

“The latest ‘accommodation’ issued by the Department of Health and Human Services falls far short of addressing the concerns of religious non-profits and charities, and does not allow religious and non-religious affiliated employers [to] provide quality health coverage consistent with their beliefs. Protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans is the foundational obligation of Members of Congress and one I intend to uphold.”

Please call your representative and ask him/her to cosponsor H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. Click here to find your representative.


Budget: Before this year, the Senate hadn’t passed a budget since April 2009. American citizens are starting to see the regular order in which the Senate usually operates to fund our government as a pastime.A stop-gap government funding measure is likely inevitable as the October 1 deadline approaches.

This week marked the twelfth request from Senate Democrats to set up a conference committee, because both the House and Senate have passed separate budgets. The disagreement in the Senate continues over appointing budget conferees. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) say that they will block the Democrats’ request until Senate Democrats agree that they will not seek an automatic increase to the national debt.

Some members pursuing fiscal responsibility fear that if conferees are appointed Democrats will strategically circumvent regular order and use procedural tactics to advance their agenda (i.e., raising the national debt).

Sexual Assault in the Military: Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing with Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard officials, who appeared together to discuss sexual assault within the military.

CWALAC will continue to follow this issue as hearings progress.

Student Loans: As of July 1, student loan rates are set to double. Congress has continued to work on legislation that would address this problem, but they are once again unable to agree upon the details to fix the problem.

On June 6, Senate Democrats and Republicans offered separate proposals to fix the increase in federal student loan rates, although both failed to pass.

Many of our young professionals are either dealing with student loans or will be dealing with student loans in the future. Concerned Women for America’s college affiliate, Young Women for America, is paying close attention to this debate within Congress.

Looking Ahead: The Senate Majority could bring several key issues to the floor in the next couple of weeks. Those include implementing measures to address the debt limit and the nomination of Thomas Perez for Secretary of Labor. To read CWALAC’s letter to the Senate regarding Mr. Perez’s nomination, click here.