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House Legislative Updates

Concerned Women for America (LAC) Condemns House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Vote

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Today, the House Judiciary Committee approved both articles of impeachment against President Trump.

Penny Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America LAC, has this to say:

The 23 members approving of this malicious partisan impeachment vote have done great damage to our country today. Concerned Women for America (CWA) supporters from around the country are praying that enough Democrats would stand up to this disingenuous, politically motivated abuse of power to remove a duly elected president without proper justification. They have sought out any and every justification to impeach President Trump since the very moment he took his oath of office. Each and every time they have come up empty. The American people will not forget their disgrace.

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Born Alive Social Media Action-Join Us!

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Eighty! That’s how many times House Republicans have asked Speaker Pelosi to bring  the Born Alive Abortion Survivor’s Protection Act up for a vote on the House floor. #LetUsVote and #EndInfanticide have been the social media rallying cry for supporters seeking to protect the unborn – and the born.

This bill, H.R. 962, merely requires, under criminal penalty, that medical professionals provide the same standard of care to a baby born alive after an attempted abortion that they would provide any other child born at the same gestational age. Doctors who allow babies to die without such care are committing nothing short of infanticide. Many Americans were horrified by the words of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam early this year who made statements on a public radio broadcast defending the practice of neglecting a baby born alive in order to end her life.

Eighty-two percent of Americans support this legislation, including 77% who identify as pro-choice – yet Speaker Pelosi continues to block this potentially life-saving legislation. So far, we have 201 signatures on the House discharge petition, a way to force a bill to the floor that is otherwise being blocked by the Speaker. We need a simple majority of the House of Representatives (218) to  sign this petition. We are currently 17 signatures short of the number needed to trigger a vote. Meanwhile, members keep asking for unanimous consent to bring the bill to the floor for a vote every day they are in session.

The House and Senate are now in recess for the next six weeks, meaning your representatives will be home holding town halls and going to events to listen to the concerns of their constituents. We are working hard to bring the Born Alive bill to the floor for a vote, but we need your help. If your representative has not signed the discharge petition, go to one of their town halls this August and ask them why they have not signed it. To find out if your representative is holding a town hall near you, visit their website and look for events or call their office and ask if they are holding a town hall in August.

Also, join us on Monday, August 5, on Twitter from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. EST for a Tweetfest where we will talk about the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and why it is so necessary. Tweet @ your representatives (click here to find their official Twitter handle) and ask them to sign. Tweet at @SpeakerPelosi and tell her you want this bill on the floor for a vote. Use the hashtags #LetUsVote and #EndInfanticide and make sure you’re following CWA LAC’s official Twitter account, @CWforA, and retweet our tweets and tag us in your tweets so we can retweet you, too!

Thank you for partnering with us to keep pressure on Congress to end infanticide.

House Minority Forcing Members to go on Record on Anti-Semitism

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Support for Israel has been a point of bi-partisan agreement and cooperation, but Democrats in the House are making what normally are straightforward votes difficult. As a result, House Republicans are using procedural maneuvers to get members on the record on legislation combatting the anti-Semitic BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), since the Majority won’t bring it up for a vote.

BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. The movement’s goal is the economic isolation of Israel by encouraging individuals, colleges, private companies, and even countries to stop investing in, trading or doing business with Israel and Israeli corporations or products. The BDS Movement opposes the very existence of Israel.

Last week Republicans in the House used a procedural tactic called a Motion to Recommit (MTR) to attempt to add anti-BDS language to a retirement enhancement act. The MTR is one of the only means for the minority party in the House to force members to vote on an issue—in this case, BDS.

The MTR was narrowly defeated in the U.S. House with a vote of 200 to 222. Though bipartisan, the vote was largely along party lines with only 12 Democrats joining Republicans in support.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are trying to force a vote on more complete anti-BDS legislation by filing a discharge petition on the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East (SASME) Act of 2019.

One of the four components of this bill is the Combatting BDS Act of 2019. This enables states to choose not to do business with entities participating in the anti-Semitic BDS Movement. The BDS movement continues to spread internationally as anti-Semitism is also on the rise across the globe.

Despite the bipartisan support of this legislation in the Senate, Speaker Pelosi has refused to bring the identical House bill, to the floor for a vote. Since the Speaker has blocked this bill for four months, House Republicans are using a procedural tool, called a discharge petition, in hopes of forcing a vote on the SASME Act, H.R. 336.

A discharge petition is a means to get a vote on a bill if a majority of the House, at least 218 members, signs on to the petition.

Ironically, those 12 Democrats who voted on the MTR in support of the anti-BDS resolution, have yet to sign the discharge petition to get the SASME Act, which includes the Combatting BDS Act of 2019, to the House Floor (as of this writing).

Dr. Shea Garrison, CWA’s Vice President of International Affairs, encapsulated this inconsistency well when addressing the media:

At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise all around the world, it is a travesty that the U.S. House is unable to unite to support Israel, our most critical ally in the Middle East … It is in America’s national interest to stand strong against anti-Semitic BDS. Support for Israel should be a non-partisan issue with complete bi-partisan cooperation.

Contact your Representative and ask them to stand strong against anti-Semitism and the BDS Movement.

Another Hard-fought Victory This Week – Sex Trafficking

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This week the House passed a sex trafficking bill (H.R. 1865) that would allow state attorneys general and victims to sue websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking. This bill was created to target sites like Backpage.com, which is currently under Senate investigation because of the hosting of ads that promoted the trafficking of minors. The legislation passed changes Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which the first circuit ruled shields websites from lawsuits over user-generated content.

This bill was a fight from the very beginning. Fortunately, human trafficking is a big issue nationally, and generally, everyone agrees it is a horrid practice that must be stopped. However, this issue has a lot of money surrounding it, and that means there are a lot of anti-sex trafficking groups with a lot of opinions about how this type of legislation should be handled. This issue also touched the bipartisan golden child of Congress: the tech industry. Democrat and Republican leadership are both heavily funded by the tech industry, and, unfortunately, they hated this bill when it was originally introduced, so we had our work cut out for us.

CWA worked with Rep. Ann Wagner’s (R-Missouri) office almost weekly for a year, meeting and strategizing how to get people in D.C. on board with something for which states were asking. The original bill was altered several times to appease not only the trafficking groups, but also was altered per DOJ’s request. When it passed, it was supported by all 50 state attorneys general. The final bill is a reflection of what should happen in Washington. Everyone: groups, congressional Democrats and Republicans, and the administration, worked together (eventually, not everyone was on board initially) to make a stronger and better piece of legislation.

We were not happy with the Senate counterpart for the House bill. It is what I would refer to as a “pat ourselves on the back” bill; it seems like it is accomplishing something, and it sounds really good, but ultimately it was not as strong as the House bill, and we had major concerns. Unfortunately, we were one of the few who did have major concerns with only the Senate language, and many sex trafficking groups loved the Senate language, but we vocalized those concerns and worked with Rep. Wagner’s office to educate members and leadership on why the House bill is better.

H.R. 1865 passed the U.S. House by a vote of 388-25.   The Senate will take up the House-passed bill the week of March 12.  Congratulations to Rep. Wagner who led the charge on the passage of this bill.  CWA worked long and hard on this legislation.  We look forward to seeing it through to passage in the Senate, also.

 

What’s the latest on tax reform?

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This week, the Republicans finished up their plan to overhaul the tax code. There is always a lot of work behind the scenes on big issues like this, and CWA has been working with the Senate, the House and the Administration to advocate for a pro-family tax code. Families are the foundation of civil society, and tax reform that is pro-family is an investment in our future.

A huge part of our work surrounds the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Concerned Women for America was an original advocator for the CTC, and we are continuing the legacy of our founder, Mrs. Beverly LaHaye, by continuing to work toward a tax system that does not penalize families. Not only are we working to increase the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 annually to $2,500 annually, we are also working to remove the cap on the number of children for which the credit applies; we are pushing to have this credit apply against payroll taxes, and we are working to get rid of the marriage penalty.

As a whole, this tax reform package must provide a net gain for families, because as any parent knows, having a child is expensive. The Department of Agriculture estimates that for a middle-income family to raise a child born in 2016 until he/she is 17, it will cost $233,610. The national average of the annual cost of childcare is 31% of the median household income, and in 33 states, the cost of infant care is higher than paying for college tuition. Increasing the CTC allows for more take home pay and, therefore, more financial flexibility raising children. For a family with four children, $4,000 annually may not make a huge impact, but $10,000 annually with the expanded CTC may allow a mother to work part time instead of full time and, therefore, spend more time at home with her children.

Ivanka Trump’s office has been leading the charge on this issue from the early days of the Trump Campaign and Penny and CWA’s legislative team (Caroline Aderholt, Ashley Traficant, and Jaime Ballew) have all met with Ivanka personally about modernizing our tax code so that it helps families. Additionally, Ashley and Jaime have been meeting with key Senate and House staff as well as senators and members of Congress to reiterate to the authors of this legislation that the tax code must help families.

Now that the tax reform package has been revealed, we will continue working with the administration, House and Senate leadership as well as with other groups to get the expansion of the CTC and tax reform, as a whole, accomplished.

House Republicans unveil tax reform

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Washington D.C. – Today the House Ways and Means Committee unveiled the Republican tax reform bill, the Tax Cuts and Job Act.  Among many changes, it was revealed that a typical family of four earning $59,000 (median household income) will receive a $1,182 tax cut. The child tax credit will be raised to $1,600 per child from the previous $1,000 per child while providing a credit of $300 for each parent and non-child dependent to help all families with their everyday expenses.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America had this to say:

“Thank you House Republicans for working to provide tax reforms that will directly impact the American family. Our nation has not seen an overhaul of our tax system since 1986 – we recognize that this was no easy task.

“I am encouraged by the pro-family focus of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which will better support American families who are struggling to keep up. An investment in American families is an investment in the future of America, and I hope that continues to be the focus as this bill moves to the Senate.

“Both the increase in the child tax credit and the preservation of the Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit are a step in the right direction. Americans should never be forced to choose between earning a paycheck and taking care of their children or parents.

“Reforming the tax system is not easy, but it is vital, and every step needs to be taken to ensure that money is being given back to hard-working American families. And so I look forward to seeing the Senate take this even further, specifically in the area of the child tax credit. CWA has been working with Ivanka Trump and the Trump Administration on increasing the Child Tax Credit in this tax reform package to $2500 per child. These reforms demonstrate the fact that America’s economy is not only business-driven but fueled by the family.”

Penny Nance Reacts to Resignation of House Speaker John Boehner

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CWALAC_MediaStatementWashington, D.C. – Today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced he would be resigning at the end of October. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee CEO and President Penny Nance had this to say:

“We are thankful for the pro-life efforts and legislation that Speaker Boehner was able to influence during his time in office. His deeply held religious beliefs have informed his fight for the unborn, and I know that is a torch he will pass on. I wish him the best with all of his future endeavors.”

For an interview with Penny Nance, please contact Janae Stracke at [email protected] or 712-269-1724.

Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee is the legislative arm of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with 500,000 participating members across the country, over 450 Prayer/Action Chapters and Home Teams, 600 trained leaders, and over 30 years of service to our nation. For more information visit www.concernedwomen.org

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House Legislative Update for November 14, 2014

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The House is back in session this week for the first time after elections!  Newly elected representatives are here in D.C. this week for their orientation. Returning Members of Congress are having initial meetings on what to do to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year which began on October 1. Currently, the government is funded through December 11. Leaders will decide whether they will pass an omnibus that will go the entire year and allows changes to be made on how money is spent or whether they will pass another continuing resolution that keeps the money being spent on current programs. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee is working with House leadership on efforts to try to include conscience protections in whichever spending vehicle moves in the House.

California Abortion: On August 22, the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) issued a directive mandating that all plans under its authority include coverage for all legal abortions, even if a plan that had previously excluded abortions had been approved by DMHC. This mandate includes religious institutions like churches and is contradictory to the Weldon pro-life rider passed annually which prohibits state or local governments that receive federal funds from discriminating against a health care entity (including health insurance plans) because they do not include abortions. CWALAC is working with Representatives Diane Black (R-Tennessee), John Fleming (R-Louisiana), and Andy Harris (R-Maryland) to get Members of Congress to sign on to a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Sylvia Burwell, urging the agency to act quickly in response to DMHC’s violation of the Weldon amendment. Because it is unlikely that HHS Secretary Burwell will act expediently, CWALAC is urging House leadership to make permanent the Weldon amendment and include the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act in whichever spending vehicle will be considered on the House floor.

House Legislative Update for September 15, 2014

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The House is expected to finish its legislative business and wrap up.  It may reconvene if needed based upon Senate action.

GAO Report:  Several House leaders requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent watchdog agency, investigate abortion in ObamaCare.  This week, the GAO released its report that showed that all Americans, even in states that have excluded abortion from their exchanges, are being forced to subsidize abortion services.  The report also discovered that when Americans tried to determine whether abortion coverage is included in their plan, that information was not readily available.  To read the full report online, click here.

To read Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) press release, click here.

Benghazi Hearing: This week, the House special committee investigating the Benghazi terrorist attacks held its first public hearing.  The hearing focused on determining what progress has been made since the attacks in implementing security improvements at U.S. embassies and other missions abroad.

Preserving Welfare for Needs Not Weed Act: The House by voice vote passed legislation that closes a loophole and ensures that taxpayers will not be funding welfare recipients’ marijuana use.  Welfare benefits were designed to help low-income families make ends meet.  These benefits should not be used to subsidize drug use.  Congress has prohibited welfare funds from being used for alcohol and gambling.  Similarly, taxpayer monies should not be used for marijuana.  Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) supported this legislation and will include this vote in our annual scorecard.

Continuing Resolution: This week, the House passed a clean continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11 by a vote of 319-108.  The continuing resolution included all of the current pro-life provisions.  Some of the changes to existing law include:

  • A provision to extend expiring Department of Defense activities, including counter-drug operations, support to the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, and rewards for assistance in combating terrorism.
  • A provision to continue a surge in funding for State Department programs to counter regional aggression toward Ukraine and other former Soviet Union countries.
  • Several provisions to ensure appropriate treatment of veterans and continued oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs, such as additional funds for disability claims processing and funds for investigations into potential improper conduct, including “wait list” and “whistleblower” allegations.
  • A provision allowing funding flexibility for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to maintain staffing levels, border security operations, detention space, and immigration enforcement activities.
  • Provisions to address the recent Ebola crisis, including additional funding to accelerate HHS research on Ebola therapies and additional funding for the Centers for Disease Control’s response to the growing outbreak in Africa.
  • A provision allowing additional funds to offset food price increases in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to ensure that no current recipients are removed from the program.
  • A provision allowing funding flexibility to maintain weather satellite programs, ensuring the continuation of data for weather warnings and forecasts, including forecasts of severe weather events.
  • A provision allowing the continuation of current funding for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.
  • A provision extending the operating authority for the Export-Import Bank through June 30, 2015.
  • A provision extending the Internet Tax Freedom Act through the period of the CR ending on December 11, 2014.

ISIS: As part of the continuing resolution to fund the government, the House approved President Obama’s plan to arm and train rebels in Syria to fight ISIS.  The vote was 273-156.  This was not a comprehensive plan to address the situation and CWALAC is continuing to urge Congress and the Administration to do more to protect women, children, and our fellow Christians in the region.  The House this week held more hearings on ISIS, including hearings in the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.

House Legislative Update for September 8, 2014

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The House returned to Washington, D.C., this week after its August recess, and it was a busy week!

ISIS:  This week President Obama briefed House Members of Congress on the ISIS situation.  As part of that briefing, President Obama has requested $5 billion in counter-terrorism funds to fight ISIS.  However, the terror posed by ISIS requires a more comprehensive solution.  Two House committees also held hearings this week about ISIS.

Employee Health Care Protection Act:  The House passed the Employee Health Care Protection Act by a vote of 247-167, which included 25 Democrats.  This legislation fulfills the promise made by President Obama by allowing American workers to keep their health plans.  Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) sent a letter of support to the Hill.

Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act:  This legislation will ensure that faith-based adoption and foster-care providers are not forced out of the adoption and foster-care services because of the religious belief that children belong with both a mother and father.  Listen here to Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania) discuss his bill.

Act Now:  Please call your representative and ask him/her to support H.R. 5285, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act.

Next Week:

Continuing Resolution: The House will consider legislation that will fund the government through early December.  This spending bill will protect all of our current pro-life provisions.

Benghazi: Next Wednesday, the House Benghazi Select Committee will hold its first public hearing to determine what the Obama Administration has done to improve security at U.S. embassies since the attack two years ago.  It does not look like this hearing will focus on why U.S. forces were directed not to respond nor will the focus be to seek answers about why administration officials lied about the nature of the attack.  CWALAC will continue to push to get answers to these questions surrounding Benghazi.

House Legislative Update for August 1

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By a vote of 370-40, H. Con. Res. 105 passed the House on July 25.  This concurrent resolution states that the president may not, under any circumstances, deploy or maintain U.S. Armed Forces “in a sustained combat role” in Iraq without specified and enumerated Congressional authorization. Both Republican and Democratic congressmen rallied behind this measure, hoping to send a strong, unified message to the current administration. Placing a necessary check on the president’s war-making powers, H. Con. Res. 105 will require that President Obama first go to Congress for permission before employing tactics that could potentially escalate and intensify any future military actions or conflict in Iraq.

Lawsuit against President Obama: A monumental and hotly contested piece of legislation, H. Res. 676 was taken up by the House this week and, on Wednesday, passed nearly along party lines. This bill authorizes Congress (via the Speaker of the House) to initiate litigation against the current administration for unconstitutional actions. Specifically, this bill empowers Congress to file a lawsuit against the president to address and amend his failure to uphold his constitutional duties in regards to the individual mandate in ObamaCare.

Religious Freedom: Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania) sponsored the Child Welfare Provider Act of 2014 and introduced it in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. This bill will grant faith-based child welfare providers, such as ChildShare, Catholic Family Services, FosterHope, and the Salvation Army, the freedom to select future foster and/or adoptive parents based on their religious belief that children belong with both a mother and a father. In some states, such as Massachusetts, California, and Illinois, as well as the District of Columbia, faith-based child welfare providers have been coerced by state law to leave their convictions at the door and, in turn, been forced to license unwed and homosexual couples as foster/adoptive parents. The Child Welfare Provider Act legislation upholds our fundamental “first freedom” and protects an individual’s right (and the institutions they operate) to act upon their moral and religious convictions without fear of “adverse actions” by the government. Ever since the concept of this bill was discussed a couple of years ago, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee has been on the front lines as a supporter of this legislation. We look forward to seeing this bill move forward with bipartisan support.

Take Action: Please urge your representative to cosponsor and support the Child Welfare Provider Act, H.R. 5285.  To find you representative, please click here.

House Legislative Update for July 25, 2014

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Sexual Exploitation: On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed five bills designed to fight human trafficking.  Collectively, these resolutions amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and aim to further “deter, detect, and disrupt” the vast trafficking network manifested on our soil.  Highlights of the legislation passed include H.R. 5116, which requires that Department of Homeland Security employees working within anti-trafficking units participate in advanced trainings and attend comprehensive briefings on trafficking detection tactics.  This is a vital step in light of the current crisis at our southern border.  Additionally, H.R. 5135 calls for in-depth surveys to be conducted, aimed at obtaining new data regarding sex trafficking of runaway and homeless youth — vital information never before collected or analyzed.  H.R. 2283 designates the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Office an official Bureau, putting it on equal footing with the other Bureaus in the State Department.

National Sovereignty & Support for Israel: H.R. 4411, the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2014, passed without opposition this week.  This bill has many noteworthy provisions centered on the ultimate goal of protecting both the American and Israeli governments from this dangerous terrorist organization.  Not only does H.R. 4411 aim to sever Hezbollah’s access to the international financial system, but this resolution also enacts U.S. sanctions on foreign groups that are knowingly funding Hezbollah’s efforts.  With Israel under constant attack in recent days, it is right and proper that this type of legislation be initiated in an attempt to isolate and extinguish the ever-present threat of Hezbollah.

Tax Extenders: H.R. 4935, offered by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas), is being considered this week by the House of Representatives.  This resolution helps families by adjusting the child tax credit for inflation.  It also eliminates the penalties currently incurred by married couples filing for these types of tax credits.  Now, mothers and fathers are encouraged to file as individuals (and both be at tax return thresholds of $75,000 each) rather than as a married couples (where they would be capped at $110,000 collectively).  The “Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014” disincentivizes cohabitation by raising the cap from $110,000 to $150,000.  This bill eliminates any monetary penalty for filing as a married couple or fiscal incentive for remaining unwed and promotes strong, stable, unified families.

Reps. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) and Danny Davis (D-Illinois) sponsored a bipartisan tax extender bill that came out of the Rules Committee and was considered on the House floor this week.  H.R. 3393, the Student and Family Tax Simplification Act, consolidates and simplifies a myriad of “tax benefits for educational expenses” such as tuition and other costs.  Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Alabama) summarized it well when she stated, “You shouldn’t need a degree in tax law to understand what tax credits are available for college tuition.  H.R. 3393 ensures that you don’t.”

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.

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.

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.