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Rachel Taylor

Legislative Update for July 4, 2014

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Although the House of Representatives was out of session, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) was still hard at work!  This week was a great opportunity to garner support for H.R. 3829, the State Marriage Defense ActIntroduced by Congressman Randy Weber (R-Texas), this bill confirms the rights of states to define marriage for their citizens while affirming the 10th amendment and states that, for federal benefits purposes, marriage is determined by the place of domicile and not the place of celebration.  In an effort to move this resolution forward, CWALAC met with numerous congressional staffers, explained the necessity of this legislation, and urged their members to co-sponsor H.R. 3829.

Take Action: Our representatives need to hear your voice!  Call or e-mail your representative and ask him/her to support and cosponsor H.R. 3829.  Click here to find your representative.

For more information, click here to listen to an interview with Rep. Weber.H.R.

House Legislative Update for June 27, 2014

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This week, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) worked diligently on the Hill to reach out to Appropriations Committee members to encourage them to attend the mark-ups and defend our pro-life provisions. We had great response to our outreach.

State Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill:  This bill has many longstanding pro-life policies, as well as pro-life policy provisions that are not in current law.

The ones that are no longer law that we are working to restore: 1) cutting off funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and 2) applying the Mexico City Policy to family planning and population funding.  UNFPA provides support and participates in the management of China’s coerced abortion and sterilization policies.  Since Obama has become president, $150 million has gone to UNFPA.  The Mexico City Policy creates a bright line of separation between abortion and family planning by ensuring that Non-Governmental Organizations do not promote or perform abortions.  This policy was in effect under President Bush and rescinded by President Obama.

We also supported the effort to cap international family planning funding at $461 million instead of the current appropriations which provides for a minimum of $575 million.

The Democrats offered three hostile amendments to our pro-life provisions that were defeated.  Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) offered an amendment to fund UNFPA in countries other than China. The DeLauro amendment failed 20-26.  Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) offered an amendment to strike the cap on international family planning funding which failed 20-26.  Finally, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) offered an amendment, which failed 19-26, to strike the Mexico City Policy altogether.

Unfortunately, an amendment offered by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-New York) was accepted by the Committee by voice vote.  This amendment grants women volunteering in the Peace Corps extended abortion coverage in cases of rape, incest, or when the health of the mother is at risk.

Financial Services Appropriations Bill: This week, the Appropriations Committee passed the Financial Services bill. This bill contains the longstanding Dornan amendment that prohibits abortion-on-demand for the District of Columbia residents.  Rep. Lowey offered an amendment to strike all of the pro-life riders in the bill, including the Dornan amendment. Her amendment failed 21-27 along party lines.  Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) offered an amendment that would specifically gut the Dornan amendment; it also failed.  The Financial Services bill also included the Smith Amendment which prohibits funding abortion coverage through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.  This longstanding pro-life provision conflicts with the implementation of ObamaCare which requires Members of Congress and their staffs to enroll in health care plans offered on the D.C. Exchange.  However, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) offered an amendment, which was adopted, to prohibit abortion coverage in the multistate plan program that was created by ObamaCare.  This amendment was previously offered by Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Mississippi) who was absent due to illness.  Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska), Martha Roby (R-Alabama), and Chris Stewart (R-Utah) all spoke in favor of the Harris amendment.  Finally, this bill also included the conscience protections.

House Legislative Update for June 20, 2014

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Capitol Hill was buzzing this week as leadership changes in the House approached.  With Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) stepping down from his post in just a month, votes were cast yesterday to fill the new leadership vacancies.  Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-California) will succeed Cantor as Majority Leader and Republican Study Committee Chair Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) won the hotly contested race for Majority Whip.  While all this action happened behind closed doors and by secret ballot, legislative action in the House continued.

Religious Liberty: Rep. Steve Scalise introduced H.R. 621, a resolution that seeks to reaffirm the commitment of the House of Representatives to the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Sent to the Judiciary Committee last week, this legislation stands in direct opposition to S.J. Res. 19, a bill designed to restrict free speech and gag those wishing to freely participate in the political process — all in the name of “legislative integrity” and “political equality.”  By supporting H.R. 621, the McCutcheon v. FEC decision that rightly advocated unmitigated political speech, including monetary actions, would be upheld.  As we witnessed in the Senate hearing last week, our fundamental “First Freedom” is at stake.  Call your representative and ask him/her to support and cosponsor H.R. 621.  Click here to find your representative.

Marriage: Congressman Randy Weber (R-Texas) recently sponsored the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 (H.R. 3829), a bill that affirms the rights of states to define marriage for their citizens without interference from the federal government.  Ensuring consistency among agencies, this act safeguards the United States v. Windsor decision while simultaneously protecting the sovereignty of the states.  Although many of our most faithful allies in the House have already signed on, this bill needs more support to gain the attention of leadership. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) has been working diligently this week to gain critical cosponsors on this important piece of legislation.  Call your representative and ask him/her to cosponsor H.R. 3829.  Click here to find your representative.

Appropriations: The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, H.R. 4870, was debated on the House floor Wednesday and Thursday.  This bill provides $491 billion to our nation’s defense and will prohibit funds from being used to transfer prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay.  The House deliberated this measure for hours and tacked on a total of 71 amendments before its final passage.  It is critical that Congress not cut essential defense funding that could, in the end, compromise or threaten our national sovereignty while, at the same time, be diligent to reduce unnecessary spending where possible.

Veterans: On Wednesday, the House continued debate on a revised version of H.R. 3230, a bill designed to “improve the access of veterans to medical services from the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Having passed the House in its original version, the Senate added two amendments last week. Insisting on their recent changes, the Senate scheduled a conference between members of the House and Senate in hopes that, by the end, all differences will be reconciled and resolved. If this moves forward as prescribed, H.R. 3230 should pass both chambers in its final form soon.

Senate Update: June 13, 2014

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Support for Israel: This week, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) circulated a bipartisan letter addressed to President Obama highlighting the June 2 Palestinian Authority government unity with Hamas. This new government unity is deeply concerning as Hamas has carried out deadly acts against Israel and is categorized as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia.

Responding to this matter of “grave concern,” 88 senators across the political spectrum signed on to this letter, urging the President to impress on President Abbas, the president of the unity, the need to cease any alliance with Hamas and return to the negotiating table with Israel.  “Any assistance (to the Palestinian Authority),” the senators write, “should only be provided when we have confidence that this new government is in full compliance with the restrictions contained in current law.”  CWALAC applauds the bold statement made by these 88 senators and stands alongside their action as we all stand together with Israel.

House Legislative Update for June 13, 2014

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Majority Leader Eric Cantor:  In a shocking primary, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) lost to Professor Dave Brat.  This week he announced that he will be stepping down as Leader as of July 31.  This announcement set off political jockeying within the Republican Conference as to which Members will fill leadership slots. The leadership elections will be held next week.

Homeland Security Appropriations Bill FY 2015: On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee marked up and passed the Homeland Security bill.  Included in this legislation was a pro-life rider to prohibit funding for elective abortion for detainees held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers. To read CWALAC’s letter to the Hill, please click here.  To watch Rep. Robert Aderholt’s (R-Alabama) introduction of the amendment, please click here.

Religious Liberty Hearing: On June 10, the Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee held a hearing titled, “The State of Religious Liberty in the United States.”  Chairman Trent Franks (R-Arizona) opened with powerful, principled remarks using the words of Thomas Jefferson. Four witnesses offered testimony on this pressing topic. Pointed questions from Democrat Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), and Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) resulted in nearly an hour of heated debate.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): On Friday, the IRS told the Ways and Means Committee that it lost the Lois Lerner e-mails from January 2009 to April 2011 supposedly due to a computer crash.  Lois Lerner is the agent who was responsible for the targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups.

Senate Update: June 6, 2014

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Free Speech: S. J. Res. 19, a resolution that seeks to alter the First Amendment, was brought before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing this past Tuesday. This hotly debated legislation, introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), would amend the United States Constitution and dramatically stifle free speech in the political arena. Revising the Constitution in this manner would sanction more “top-down” control and, in turn, manipulate the election process by limiting political fundraising, spending, and contributions.  Further, by specifically enumerating and protecting the “freedoms of the press,” this act discounts our other vital freedoms of religion, assembly, petition, etc.

During the Judiciary Committee hearing attended by CWALAC staff, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) spoke out in defense of the First Amendment and against this resolution, pointing to the Bill of Rights as a set of precious freedoms derived from our Creator and enumerated by our Founding Fathers. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) also spoke out against this imposing bill, calling it a “scandalous” act.  Likewise, CWALAC reacted and sent to each Member on the Judiciary Committee a score letter stating our strong OPPOSITION to this resolution.

Take Action: Please come alongside Sens. Cruz, Grassley, and McConnell and the CWALAC team and urge your senator to strike down S. J. Res. 19!

House Legislative Update for June 6, 2014

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Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) worked with Reps. Diane Black (R-Tennessee), Trent Franks (R-Arizona), and the pro-life caucus to get House Members to sign a letter to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) urging him to bring the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to the Senate floor for a vote.  This bipartisan letter had over 100 signers.  To read the letter, please click here.

Meriam Ibrahim: Over the weekend, there were new stories about the release of Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese women being held in prison with her two children because she won’t renounce Christianity. CWALAC has helped orchestrate rallies to protest her imprisonment. We are working with Rep. Franks to try to get his resolution, H. Res. 601, which calls for her immediate and unconditional release and urges the United States Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize granting Meriam asylum or refugee status as appropriate.

Action: 

  1. Please call your representative and ask him/her to cosponsor H. Res. 601.  Please have your representative talk to Leader Eric Cantor and urge him to bring this resolution up for a vote.  The Senate has already passed a similar resolution now the House must act! To find your representative, please click here.
  2. Please sign CWALAC’s petition to Secretary of State John Kerry urging Meriam’s immediate release.  Please click here to sign the petition.  After you sign the petition, please forward the link to your friends and family.

Next Week:  The Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee will hold a hearing on religious liberty.