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House Legislative Updates

House Update for May 30, 2014

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Ways and Means Committee: This week, the House Ways and Means Committee marked up three important pieces of legislation that focused on charitable giving.

  • HR 4619 makes permanent the rule allowing certain tax-free distributions from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for charitable purposes.  It allows Americans who are 70½ and older to donate up to $100,000 from their IRAs and Roth IRAs without having to treat the withdrawals as taxable income.
  • HR 4719 permanently extends and expands charitable deductions for contributions of food donated to places like food banks or local pantries.  These donations will count as tax deductible charitable contributions.  This resolution encourages Americans to help fight hunger by permitting restaurants, grocery stores, farmers, and other small businesses to donate food and get a tax deduction. According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tom Reed (R-New York), “instead of wasting perfectly good food, it’s common sense to care for and feed our neighbors in need.”
  • HR 3134, the Charitable Giving Extension Act, allows for any charitable contribution made after December 31 and before April 15 to be deducted in the taxable year that ended December 31.  Congress wants to make charitable giving a priority and allow American taxpayers to be able to save more money. With nearly 88 percent of Americans donating to charity, this will help families in today’s tough fiscal environment.

Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (CJS):  The House passed the CJS Appropriations bill, H.R. 4660, by a vote of 321-87.  We were pleased that all of the pro-life provisions that need to be passed annually were included in this bill.  We were also able to hold off a hostile life amendment.

CWALAC supported a couple of amendments offered by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) to the CJS bill that were adopted.

The first takes money from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives salaries and expenses and gives it to the Veterans’ Treatment Courts program.  Veterans often face significant challenges as they transition back into civilian life.  Sometimes, they turn to illegal drugs.  Veterans’ treatment courts are designed specifically for veterans, and the judges themselves understand the issues surrounding veterans.  These courts provide a pathway for veterans to get the help they need and don’t just lock them up with other drug abusers.

The other redirects money allocated to the Department of Justice for office space towards bolstering prescription drug monitoring programs.  Abusing prescription drugs is often a gateway towards abusing other illicit drugs.  Drug abuse is destructive to families and society.

CWALAC also supported increasing funds to test backlogged rape kits.  There are estimates that 400,000 rape kits sit untested in labs and on police storage shelves across the nation.  Without testing, criminals remain on the streets able to commit other rapes and victims are denied justice.  This increase in funding will facilitate the testing and reporting of this important evidence which will prevent additional crimes and provide rape victims with closure.

Despite CWALAC efforts, an amendment by Rep. Rohrabacher (R-California) to block the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana users and providers who are abiding by state laws that have legalized the substance passed by a vote of 219-189.

CWALAC was concerned that Rep. Rohrabacher’s amendment will come at the expense of our children and public safety. Marijuana is a gateway drug to other illicit drugs and behaviors. It is mind-altering and inhibits decision making and discretion, affecting not only the user but others around them.

Further, this amendment would allow state laws to supersede the federal government’s legitimate interest in controlling the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of marijuana.  This could have a detrimental impact on neighboring states.

House Legislative Update for May 16, 2014

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The House is out of session this week and will return next week.  However, the backlash from the National Women’s History Museum vote still continues.  Because of her opposition, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) has been facing the ire of liberals.  Susan Milligan said that Rep. Bachmann doesn’t understand feminism.  You can read CWA President and CEO Penny Nance’s response to the article here.

House Legislative Update for May 9, 2014

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The House was very busy this week, since next week representatives will be home in their districts for a work period.

IRS: The House passed two separate resolutions this week.  The first called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.  Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) continues to weigh in on this issue with our friends on the Hill.  The second resolution calls on the House to find Lois Lerner in contempt.  This resolution focuses around Lerner refusing to testify during a House Committee hearing.

National Women’s History Museum: Instead of celebrating motherhood and the true role of women in our nation’s history, the House pandered to the “war on women” rhetoric and passed a bill that calls for the establishment of a commission to study the establishment of a women’s history museum on our national mall.  Americans across the country could, in the near future, foot the bill for this national shrine to the radical feminist agenda.

While this vote was disappointing, it will not be the only fight in the battle.  We will work with House leadership to ensure that conservative voices will be equally represented on the commission.  And, once the commission reports to Congress, we will renew our fight to ensure this museum does not just portray a monolithic view of women but will be a legacy for all women.

There were many courageous voices in the House led by Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas).  These outstanding leaders vocally opposed the creation of this museum that will be a jaundiced view of women’s history.  And, they are being rebuked by the liberal media.  They really need to know how much we appreciate their efforts!  Please call Rep. Bachmann at 202-225-2331 and Rep. Huelskamp at 202-225-2715 and tell them how grateful we are for their courage to stand up for their principles.

To see how your representative voted, click hereIf your representative acted with conviction and opposed the museum, please call his/her office and thank him/her.  To find your representative, click here.

Benghazi: This week, the House passed a resolution to appoint a select committee to investigate what happened in Benghazi.  We are pleased that this committee will finally get answers about this terrorist attack on our embassy.  We have worked with Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virginia) on this issue since the attack.  For more information, click here.

House Legislative Update for May 2, 2014

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National Women’s History Museum (NWHM): Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) continues to meet with House Members, urging them to oppose the NWHM.  The vote will be held next week in time to “celebrate” Mother’s Day.  Penny Nance and I met with Majority Leader Eric Cantor and urged him to include safeguards to ensure the museum will not be a shrine to the radical feminist and abortion agenda, as well as to ensure taxpayers will not have to foot the bill for it.  CWALAC worked to suggest language that could be incorporated into the bill.  A few of the suggestions were adopted, however, they were insufficient.  CWALAC also worked with Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) who are leading the opposition.  Both Members of Congress were speaking against this bill to other conservatives and ensured that there would be a roll call vote for the NWHM.  CWALAC made about 50,000 robocalls to our members asking them to call House leadership and their representatives to urge them to oppose the NWHM.  Thanks to the quick actions of our members, we heard from Hill offices that their phones were ringing off the hook!

CWALAC also got Susan B. Anthony List, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council, and Heritage Action to oppose the NWHM. Please call Reps. Bachmann (202-225-2331) and Huelskamp (202-225-2715) and thank them for all of their help!

Appropriations Bills: The House passed its first two spending bills — the Military/VA and Legislative Branch.  The House has said that it will try to pass all of its spending bills before the fiscal year begins on October 1. However, it is likely it will not reach this goal and some type of Continuing Resolution will be passed to keep the government funded.