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Jaime Ballew

Resolution for the Little Sisters of the Poor

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Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a final rule that provided much-needed relief to employers who had religious or moral objections to birth control or certain forms of birth control. After the Affordable Care Act became law, HHS was tasked with interpreting the intentionally vague part of the law that mandated all insurance plans provide essential women’s health services. HHS, not Congress, determined that, among other things, all FDA-approved forms of birth control must be covered in employer insurance plans.

Although there were narrow exceptions to this mandate and several corporations were “grandfathered” in, the Obama Administration failed to respect the conscience rights of religious employers. This bureaucratic overreach forced companies like Hobby Lobby and religious non-profits like the Little Sisters of the Poor to fight for their religious freedom at the Supreme Court. The Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby’s request to provide 16 of the 20 forms of birth control, excluding only abortifacients (birth control that does not simply prevent conception, but prevents implantation of an embryo, therefore resulting in the loss of a unique human life).

The Obama Administration offered several accommodations to the Little Sisters of the Poor, but missed the mark with each one. In May 2017, the Trump Administration issued an interim final rule that provided relief to the Little Sisters. These new final rules are identical to the ones proposed in 2017 and respect the religious and moral objections of employers. This rule does not prevent the government from providing these services to women who want them; it is a necessary correction to the government’s overreach.

Leg Update: The Final Countdown

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In every midterm election since 1876, with three exceptions, the President’s party has lost seats. Voter turnout is always significantly lower in midterm years than in presidential election years. Out of eligible, registered voters: 62.8% voted in 2008, 54.2% voted in 2012, and 58% voted in 2016. Meanwhile, only 40% voted in 2010 and an abysmal 37%, the lowest number in a century, in 2014[1].

Polls are fluctuating but generally show that the Democrats will take control of the House and Republicans will retain control of the Senate and maybe pick up 1-2 seats. Real Clear Politics takes the average of several polls to make their projections. As of November 1, Real Clear has projected 6 toss-up Senate seats: Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and Nevada[2].

Democrats only need to pick up 23 seats in the House to take control and hand the Speaker’s gavel to Nancy Pelosi. Real Clear has categorized 15 House seats currently held by a Republican as leaning or likely Democrat, 30 as toss ups, and 43 as likely/leaning Republican. Meanwhile, only 2 seats currently held by a Democrat are categorized as likely/leaning Republican, 4 are toss ups, and 16 are likely/leaning Democrat.

I encourage you to take all of this, throw it out the window, and go vote anyway.

Back on Election Day in 2016, the New York Times projected that Hillary Clinton had a 99% chance of taking the Presidency. Pretty much no one thought Trump had any chance. As the night went on and results came in, that number got smaller and smaller, until around 3:00 a.m. when AP projected President Trump the winner.

There are an infinite number of theories as to why the polls were so wrong, and I am not here to speculate on those reasons. I am not a polling expert by any means, but the way we poll Americans has largely not changed. Most people don’t have landlines, don’t answer unknown numbers on their cell phones, and internet polls are unreliable and flawed (you can often vote more than once). Voter enthusiasm doesn’t always equate to voter turnout, this is especially true with young voters, and people who participate in polls or hold protest signs don’t necessarily show up to vote. However, angry people DO vote, and we have seen a lot of anger from the left.

The 2016 election will be analyzed for the rest of time, and unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, most people miss the point. 2016 was more than a referendum on President Obama’s policies, it was a referendum on D.C. as a whole. A very large population of the electorate felt intentionally ignored by both parties; people were tired of being promised the world and given nothing. Conservatives were tired of putting up good men only to see the left annihilate and slander them.

Now we are facing a similar situation. We know where the policies of the left will lead: government funded abortion, persecution for people of faith, , policies that deny ethical  scientific principles, disrespect for the rule of law, and mob rule. People were appalled at the behavior of the left during the Kavanaugh confirmations and it will get much, much worse if those tactics are justified. A win on Tuesday for radical leftists who are calling for incivility against their peers and fellow Americans, will do just this.

A couple of weeks ago, I laid out what we have to lose in this election. I witnessed first-hand the rage and frustration of the mob. This is not politics as we knew it five years ago, this is unhinged tyranny. So, what can we do? It’s really simple, just show up. Don’t fall for the lie that your vote doesn’t count or doesn’t matter. Last year, the control of the entire Virginia House of Delegates was determined by one vote. If everyone in your family. friend group, or church thought, “my vote doesn’t even really count; I’m just one person”, then that adds up to a lot more than one vote.

If you are able, help your neighbors and co-workers who have mobility or transportation challenges get to the polls. This Sunday encourage members from your church to vote. Ask your pastor to make an announcement reminding everyone to vote on Tuesday. We have a great resource online that details political guidelines for pastors and churches if you’re not sure what you can say. Lastly, please pray for our nation. Regardless of the results of Tuesday’s election, we have deep divisions that cannot be healed by politicians or humans, but only through God’s love and redeeming grace.

Legislative Update: Midterm Elections and What’s at Stake

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Washington is practically a ghost town with the midterms almost two weeks away. Most staff and members of Congress are on the campaign trail, except for a few members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who held hearings this week on several of President Trump’s judicial nominees. There were only four Republican senators in attendance and every Democrat member of the committee boycotted the hearings.

The biggest hurdle we will face once the election is over and Congress returns will be government funding. Before Congress left, they passed several funding bills and signed a CR (continuing resolution) for the remaining bills that keeps spending levels identical to the FY 2018 spending levels. Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water Development, the Legislative Branch, Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education spending bills for FY 2019 have been passed and signed into law. This comprises approximately 75% of government funding passed through the appropriations process. We still have several bills to go: Agriculture; Commerce, Science, Justice; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Interior; State, Foreign Operations; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. In the bills left, the most contentious issue will absolutely be the funding of the President’s wall on our southernmost border. The midterms will largely determine who fights the hardest for or against this measure.

Another measure that was delayed with the CR was the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. We are working carefully to assure the funding in this bill has much-needed accountability and actually helps the group it was intended to help: women.

Both of these issues will have to be addressed in some way during the lame duck period because funding for both will expire December 7. As stated before, the outcome of the midterms will be the biggest determinate of what happens during lame duck and the remainder of President Trump’s first term in office.

At CWA we want to make sure you are prepared for the midterms and know what’s on the ballot this year. All 435 seats of the House are up for election, one-third of the Senate, and of course, local and state races are on the ballot as well.

But what’s at stake this go-around and why should you vote? What’s really on the ballot?

There is so much that we can do with a pro-life House and Senate and so much we would have to stop with a Pelosi-led, anti-life House. We’ve seen very concerning SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) language woven into almost every bill and amendment the Democrats propose that compromises First Amendment protected freedom of religion and circumvents the Civil Rights Act. We know, based on the 2016 Democrat platform, that the democrats want to get rid of the long-standing Hyde amendment that prevents government funding from paying for abortions. The Hyde amendment continues to have support from approximately 60% of Americans. Not only this, but many of the Administration’s good policies that we have fought for, like the Mexico City policy, the proposed Title X rule that we asked for your help commenting that would eliminate Title X family planning funding for abortion providers (this is still under review by HHS by the way), government-sponsored fetal tissue research and so many other measures can be stopped or supported by Congress. Unless Congress funds, or in the case of the Hyde amendment, does not fund, these measures and programs, no amount of work the administration does can stop this. We absolutely must have a pro-life, pro-family House to back up the administration’s pro-life and pro-family policies.

If Democrats take control of the House, their first move will likely be impeaching the President. If Republicans maintain control of the House they will continue to support the President’s good policies. With a pro-life House and Senate majority, we can stop Planned Parenthood’s government funding, we can maintain protections for the unborn, we can protect religious liberty for all Americans.

Before the confirmation hearings of Justice Kavanaugh, the conservative base was not as motivated as the liberal base to show up in November. This is typical with the ebb and flow of politics; usually after one party takes control of the White House, part or all of Congress flips to the other party. However, those hearings showed us what is at stake: the rule of law. During the Kavanaugh hearings, CWA staff were threatened, screamed at, spit on (that was me … gross) and told by these women they hoped we would get raped. This last week alone, two Republican state representatives were assaulted, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) received a letter at her home with riacin, one Republican campaign staffer was assaulted by a Democrat. No one on the left is calling for this to stop. This behavior is abhorrent and must be shut down. We must return to civility; we cannot allow this violence to continue; this is not America.

Having Democrat members of Congress and Senators inciting violence against Republicans, or ANYONE, is unacceptable. Whip Scalise was shot in broad daylight a little over a year and a half ago because of rhetoric the left pushed that said “people will die if Republicans succeed.” That rhetoric hasn’t died down, it has amped up and radical leftists have doubled down on their calls for violence against conservatives.

Even with a pro-life President, there is too much at stake to allow mob rule and anti-life politicians to take over. On November 6, you are not just voting for a representative or a senator, you’re voting for the policy and direction of the nation for next two years. You’re voting for or against tax cuts and pro-family tax policies; you’re voting for or against the government paying for abortions; you’re voting for the rule of law or mob rule.

Leg Update: Sen. Judiciary Committee votes on Kavanaugh 11-10, What Now?

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During the Judiciary Committee business meeting this morning, Sen. Flake (R-Arizona) decided that a FBI investigation would be helpful “to mend the nation”. So before he voted on Kavanaugh in committee, he asked for such an investigation to be conducted.  A senator cannot make their vote contingent on anything, so this was mostly symbolic and political. Kavanaugh was reported out of committee favorably 11-10 (voted along party lines); his confirmation can now move to the Senate floor. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) very shortly after the vote echoed Flake’s call for an additional FBI investigation, essentially forcing Leader McConnell to delay the vote for said investigation.

Tomorrow at noon there was a procedural vote (motion to proceed) scheduled, but in a plot twist no one saw coming, about 7:00 p.m. Friday evening, the Senate agreed by unanimous consent request (that means no one, including democrats objected) to the motion to proceed (the one that was scheduled for tomorrow) to move to Executive Session for the consideration of Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Monday at 3:00 p.m. the Senate will convene and continue Kavanaugh’s consideration. There will be other legislation considered then as well.

The White House has now asked the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation into *existing* allegations only, and the investigation must wrap up in one week. This was the exact request from Senate Judiciary. The investigation could last two hours, or it could last all week.  There is no way to know. This is why McConnell moved forward with the motion to proceed regardless.

Chairman Grassley’s repeated remarks this week on why a FBI investigation is useless are helpful.  To summarize: it is not their job to reach conclusions or give recommendations; that is the sole job of the Senate (advice and consent); there was no federal crime committed, so they don’t have jurisdiction anyway.

After the FBI concludes their investigation, there will likely be calls for additional investigations. From day one the Democrats entire goal was to stop this with “everything they have”. There will be more calls for delay. There will very likely be more allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. The pressure on the four undecided senators will be intense (Heidi Heitkamp D-North Dakota, Joe Manchin D-West Virginia, Susan Collins R-Maine, Lisa Murkowski R-Alaska). It will all get much, much worse.  When abortion is your god and life has no value, ruining one man’s life and reputation to “save Roe” is not even an ethical question, it’s a mandate. Leader McConnell is very motivated to move forward. He knows this is important on every level. Floor debate will continue all week.  Once the FBI investigation is over, at some point next week, we will have the cloture vote (end debate), and then the final vote.

Earlier today after the Flake episode, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), one of our “gettable” democrats previously undecided, came out in opposition to Kavanaugh and intends to vote against his confirmation.

Pray for Judge Kavanaugh and please pray for Ashley Kavanaugh, too. I will never forget the look on her face yesterday. I cannot imagine having to explain to my 10 and 13 year old girls that even though half the country thinks their dad gang raped women, that is a lie made up and permeated by politicians. I would also encourage you to watch Senator Graham’s questioning of Kavanaugh yesterday if you haven’t already. It sums it up perfectly, and I found it very encouraging.

Kavanaugh Confirmation Legislative Update: What Now?

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The Kavanaugh hearings have officially come to an end after no shortage of political theater by both Senators and paid disrupters. There’s still a lot that needs to happen before he can be confirmed. The Senate Judiciary Committee must give his nomination either a favorable or unfavorable recommendation to the entire Senate. This vote in the committee will be scheduled next week, but Democrats can object to a motion to proceed to a vote and delay the process.  If they do (and we fully expect that they will), the committee must wait one week before meeting again to consider the nomination. Once this time is burned, the vote can be taken, and then the committee can report the nomination to the full Senate.  Cloture can be filed the day after the committee gives their final report (cloture is a vote to end debate) and then the clock starts ticking to burn 30 hours of Senate floor debate.

It normally takes 60 votes to stop debate, but remember former Majority Leader Harry Reid changed the Senate rules in 2015 to allow for a simple majority (51) to end debate for lower court judges and cabinet nominees. When Democrats obstructed the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice for the Supreme Court in 2017, Majority Leader McConnell was forced to change the Senate rules again to lower the cloture threshold for Supreme Court nominees to a simple majority. The vote to end debate on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination will require this same simple majority. After debate is over, the final vote will occur for confirmation; this vote also requires a simple majority of Senators present to pass.

This will likely take us into the end of September, and if all goes according to plan, including a successful floor vote, it appears that Judge Kavanaugh will be Justice Kavanaugh in time for the Supreme Court’s term beginning the first Monday in October (October 1).

Title X comment period ends with thousands of comments supporting Protect Life Rule

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Thank you all so much for your participation and work submitting comments to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the administration’s proposed Title X rule. The comment period for this rule closed on Tuesday. Just a refresher, Title X is a voluntary grant program that was enacted in the 70s to provide low income individuals with family planning services. The statute specifically says that abortion is not family planning and no funds can go toward abortion operations, but that hasn’t stopped the abortion industry from grabbing these funds and using them to prop up their abortion business. This new rule would require Title X grant recipients to detangle their abortion operations from Title X activity, better adhering to the law.

Concerned Women for America supporters were responsible for submitting thousands of comments supporting this rule; thank you!  HHS received over 200,000 comments and upon some brief preliminary investigation of our own, it appears that the majority of these comments are supportive of the rule. This was not the result we were expecting, but it is reflective of where the American people stand on taxpayer funded abortions and abortion activities. Polls continually show that about 6 in 10 Americans oppose taxpayer dollars from being used toward abortions, and that includes people who identify as pro-choice. Americans want out of the abortion business, and this proposed rule is an important step to detangle the abortion industry from government funding.

From here, HHS will review the comments and then they submit a final rule based on feedback. This will take at least a few months and then these rules will apply to future Title X grants. We hope that when grants are announced in August 2019 this rule will be implemented, and this program will no longer be used as a slush fund for the abortion industry. We do anticipate several states will sue HHS over this rule, which could delay implementation, but this rule is supported by Supreme Court precedent. In 1991 the Supreme Court upheld similar, more stringent rules, proposed by the Reagan administration in Rust v. Sullivan, and there have been no significant cases since then that would impact the precedent set by Rust.

It is unfortunate the pro-choice side had to resort to blatant lies and fear mongering in their opposition to this rule. They know that life is winning in America, and public opinion on abortion is shifting. We are a pro-life nation, and the abortion industry’s free ride on the backs of taxpayers is coming to an end.

Title X Comment Period: Now Open!

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You may remember last week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new proposed rule governing the Title X program that has the potential to make an impact on the fight against Planned Parenthood’s government funding. Today is the first day of the 60-day comment period, and now we have a unique chance to act and voice our support.

The Title X program is a voluntary grant program that was created to educate and provide family planning services. Even though the law says that abortion is not family planning, abortion giants like Planned Parenthood have used this grant program as their own personal slush fund.

But not under the Trump Administration. HHS proposed a new rule governing Title X funds. This rule, also referred to as the Protect Life Rule, proposes regulations similar to the “Reagan rules” that were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991 in Rust v. Sullivan. These new regulations require physical and financial separation between Title X recipients and abortion providers. Under these new regulations, abortion centers cannot serve as Title X family planning centers and recipients cannot refer for abortion. Additionally, grantees must comply with state/local abuse reporting requirements. This rule also repeals the Clinton-era regulations that require abortion counseling and instead makes this optional. This new regulation does not cut Title X dollars by a cent

This Protect Life Rule draws a bright line between abortion clinics and Title X dollars. By requiring physical and financial separation of Title X dollars, we can be sure that this taxpayer money is being used to help low-income women and not prop up abortion clinics.

After the comment period is closed, HHS will review the comments and issue a final ruling. This is why the comment period is so important: HHS’ final ruling is based off of what the public says. You know Planned Parenthood is out in full force; they even started accepting comments to submit before the comment period officially opened! We know that 60% of Americans want out of the abortion business and don’t want taxpayer dollars involved in abortions, so now it’s time for us to act.

For information on submitting a comment, a sample comment (you can use ours verbatim!), or more information on what exactly this rule will do if implemented, please visit ConcernedWomen.org/ProtectLifeRule.

Legislative Update – Title X

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On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) filed new Title X grant requirements similar to rules established during the Reagan era and upheld by the Supreme Court. This new rule requires physical and financial separation between Title X recipients and abortion providers in order to draw a clear line against federal tax money going to support abortion.   It also prohibits referrals for abortion to further disentangle federal taxpayer money from the abortion industry.  

For years abortion providers have used the fungibility of Title X funds to their financial advantage. Title X funding can be used for a number of things like utilities, advertising, staff salaries, and medical supplies. Basically, these grants can free up other funds and provide infrastructure for clinics like Planned Parenthood to promote abortion.

Title X has been Planned Parenthood’s second largest government funding stream.  They operate as if they are entitled to federal tax dollars and use these grants as their personal slush fund.   Under these new regulations, Planned Parenthood will have to play by the new rules or get out of the game.

Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood wants you to believe abortion is just a small part of what they do. The reality is that over 90% of pregnant women who enter a Planned Parenthood clinic will receive an abortion.  It is not a “small part” of what they do, because if it were, these new rules would not make a big difference to their business model.  But we know otherwise.

This move by the Trump Administration is a promise kept. Almost 200 Members of Congress and 86 pro-life groups asked for these changes   Americans want out of the abortion business altogether.   Six in ten Americans oppose taxpayer funding for abortion.  Title X funds have been tangled in big abortion for far too long.

While there is still more to do, this is a big step in the right direction.  Everyone is frustrated with the Senate’s failure to pass a bill redirecting Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding, and we are still furious that the omnibus allowed abortion providers to receive funding. Now the federal agency who controls who is eligible for Title X funding has responded. We will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to find new avenues to make progress against taxpayer funding of abortion providers.

“What are we doing about Planned Parenthood now?”

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One of the most common questions I get from grassroots advocates, supporters or even other D.C. folk is, “What are we doing now about Planned Parenthood?” Although we have proven we can get Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid reimbursement funding redirected to better healthcare providers through a House vote, the Senate makeup is not changing right now, so we are tackling this from a different angle.

According to their most recent annual report, in 2016 Planned Parenthood received approximately $543.7 million from the government. This is a big pot of money that is divided in a lot of ways. The main ways Planned Parenthood receives funding is through Medicaid reimbursement for services performed and through Title X (family planning) dollars and through other various government (state and federal) grants. The healthcare reconciliation bill that failed by one vote in the Senate last year tackled the largest portion: their Medicaid reimbursement, but we are not giving up because that bill failed.

The Title X Family Planning Program was authorized in 1970 and is intended to assist in “voluntary family planning projects,” offering “a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services,” and may not fund “programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” The statute gives the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the ability to determine qualifications for this money. These qualifications are mostly outdated and although the statute firmly differentiates between abortion and family planning, Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, is a large recipient of these funds. Obama regulations required all grantees to refer for abortion. This obviously deters many from applying for funds who do not believe abortion is a method of family planning.

Members of the House know this issue well and are currently circulating a letter to the Secretary of HHS to update these regulations. HHS recently issued new Title X regulations lifting the abortion referral mandate, but members of Congress are now asking for these funds to be fully separated from abortion clinics. As it stands, several Title X locations are also abortion clinics, but members are calling to renew similar Reagan Administration regulations (that the Supreme Court upheld) that require Title X service sites to be physically and financially separate from abortion facilities.

This is just one of the ways you won’t hear about on the news that we are working to cut off the government funding stream to Planned Parenthood. Their free ride on the backs of taxpayers is not forgotten in D.C. and is coming to an end.

CWA Advocates for Pompeo’s Swift Confirmation

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Moving this week is support for President Trump’s new nominee for Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.  You will see CWA becoming more active later this month on the Hill when Pompeo appears in the Senate for his official hearings for his new position as Secretary of State.  This week we joined with other conservative organizations to lend our voice to his swift approval by signing on to a letter of support that will hit the Senate soon.

The letter stated that, “Mike Pompeo’s career also shows a regard for the sanctity of life, the solidarity of the family, and the solemnity of marriage.  These principles will be key in re-building a State Department that, under President Obama, actively pushed a radical social policy around the world.  His belief in religious freedom as a foreign policy priority is equally important in directing the State Department’s efforts to protect the freedom of all people.

“Mike Pompeo will be a positive agent for change at the State Department, and a valuable asset to President Trump in imparting his agenda at home and abroad.  We support his nomination and urge his swift confirmation.”