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Legislative Updates

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.

 

CWA Attends Announcement of New HHS Division: Conscience and Religious Freedom

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This week, members of the CWA staff were invited to a special event at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announcing a new division on Conscience and Religious Freedom in HHS’s Office of Civil Rights.  Caroline Aderholt, CWA’s Chief of Staff, was the only non-speaker who was invited behind the scenes to join the speakers and influencers, including the acting Secretary of HHS, Members of Congress and Senators.

This new division will specialize in enforcement and compliance with laws that protect conscience and the free exercise of religion and that prohibit coercion and discrimination. Specifically, this division will deal with conscience objections of healthcare workers who are forced to perform or participate in an abortion in violation with their deeply held beliefs. Additionally, this new division will also focus on the increasing issue of protecting the conscience rights of healthcare workers who object to participating in the gender reassignment process.

This was the result of hard work from so many behind the scenes to emphasize the importance of conscience protection. Thanks to the hard work of our team and the pro-life coalition, the Trump Administration has taken this unprecedented step to protect those who just want to follow their conscience.

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.”

CWA on the front lines of pro-family tax reform

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Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) is encouraged by the tax reform proposals set forth by the Trump Administration. As the framework continues to be filled out, CWALAC is working tirelessly to more than double the Child Tax Credit. We believe tax reform should be pro-family, in addition to pro-growth.

We are working closely with Ivanka Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), as well as other organizations from varying backgrounds — all united in the belief that pro-family tax reform is an investment in America’s future.

Linked is a joint statement CWALAC signed outlining specifics for enhancing the Child Tax Credit.

We are proud to be at the tip of the spear promoting pro-family tax reform.

 

CWALAC Celebrates Passage of Historic Vote in the House of Representatives

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, as we mark two years since the conviction of abortionist Kermit Gosnell for murder, we celebrate the House of Representatives’ historic passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Children Protection Act by a vote of 242-184,Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee CEO and President, Penny Nance,  made the following remarks Read More

Legislative Update for April 11, 2014

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House

Debbie Smith Reauthorization: CWALAC is pleased the House reauthorized the Debbie Smith Act. The Debbie Smith Act provides funds to state and local law enforcement agencies to perform DNA testing on rape kits. Testing rape kits is crucial to taking dangerous criminals off the streets and bringing justice and closure to rape victims. The bill is now awaiting action in the Senate.

National Women’s History Museum (NWHM): The Natural Resources Committee marked up and passed the NWHM his week. CWALAC worked with Committee staffers to determine its consideration in Committee. We heard from our friends that House leadership wanted to see this legislation passed quickly through Committee. CWALAC wanted to prevent good Members of Congress from having to go on the record during a Committee vote and agreed with Committee staff this should move as part of a unanimous consent package where a couple of representatives would submit their stated opposition to the legislation. In addition to their statements of opposition, these representatives met with Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) to express their disapproval and ask that this legislation not be placed on the suspension calendar. CWALAC met with 14 offices this week to oppose the NWHM. Act Now: Call your representative and ask him/her to oppose the NWHM. Click here to find your representative. Also, call Leader Cantor at 202-225-2815 and ask him not to bring this to a vote until it has proper safeguards.

Budget: The House voted on several budgets this week. Republicans brought up the president’s budget, which over the past several years has not received a single vote. This year, the president’s budget received two Democrat votes. The House also considered other Democrat budgets from the Progressive and Congressional Black Caucuses. CWALAC supported both the Ryan (which passed) and Republican Study Committee (which failed) budgets.

Senate

Paycheck Fairness: After circulation of an opposition letter written by our CWALAC team, the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199) did not receive the needed 60 votes to advance in the Senate. This is a great victory for CWALAC and all women hoping to continue to cultivate a culture of proper “work/life balance” and foster more freedom in the workforce.

National Women’s History Museum (NWHM): The CWALAC team continues to track the progress and movement of the National Women’s History Museum Commission Act. With Majority Leader Reid ready to push this through on a “fast track,” CWALAC will continue to do all it can both on and off the Hill to ensure that this bill does not come up for a vote on the Senate floor anytime soon! To see why CWALAC strongly opposes this new museum, click here. Take Action: Contact your senator now and tell them you OPPOSE the NWHM.

Legislative Update for April 4, 2014

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House

Abstinence Day on the Hill: On April 3, Shari Rendall joined National Abstinence Education Association and Family Research Council to host a Hill briefing for 45 staffers on abstinence education.  The briefing highlighted the importance of sexual risk avoidance.  In addition, we were joined by Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Illinois).  He and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois) are the cosponsors of the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act, which gives money for sexual risk avoidance from an ObamaCare comprehensive sex education fund.  Please call Rep. Hultgren at 202-225-2976 and Rep. Lipinski at 202-225-5701 and thank them for introducing the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act, H.R. 718.  Call your representative and ask him/her to cosponsor H.R.718.  Click here to find your representative.

Religious Freedom in the Military: CWALAC and the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition sent a letter to Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, questioning her about a recent incident where a Bible verse was removed from a cadet’s white board. This was done despite official academy policy, which permits the use of white boards for personal messages.

In the letter, the Coalition asked for a meeting with Lt. Gen. Johnson to discuss what this incident means for religious liberty in the Air Force.

ObamaCare: The House voted on H.R. 2575, the Save American Workers Act, sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-Indiana), to protect hardworking Americans from losing wages as a direct result of Obamacare’s 30-hour rule.  ObamaCare has incentivized employers to cut employees’ hours.

Budget Act: The House voted on Rep. Tom Price’s (R-Georgia) Pro-Growth Budgeting Act, H.R. 1874.  This requires the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to provide detailed information on the economic impact of major legislation as a supplement to the CBO cost estimates.

Senate

Sexual Risk Avoidance: On Monday, March 31, the Senate passed (64-35) the “Doc Fix” Medicare Compensation legislation.  This measure includes language that will allow for the continuing of Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) funding.  This is a small, yet strategic victory that promotes abstinence as opposed to mere Sexual Risk Reduction (SRR) or “comprehensive sex education.”

Education: This week, CWALAC worked diligently to gather much needed signatures for Sen. Grassley’s (R-Iowa) “Dear Colleague” Letter.  This circulated letter demands that the FY 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bills include provisions that increase parental control and foster greater accountability.  Most importantly, Sen. Grassley’s letter clarifies that all funds appropriated will not be used to develop or implement the Common Core state standards!

Paycheck Fairness Act: On April 1, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee held a hearing on the Paycheck Fairness Act.  Understanding that this bill places undue burdens and regulations on employers, discourages flexible working arrangements, and in the end does not help women, CWALAC is working hard on the Hill to halt this dangerous piece of legislation.