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Legislative Updates

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.

House Votes on (In)Equality Act and Rejects Efforts to Save Women’s Sports

By | Blog, Defense of Family, Feminist / Women's Issues, Legislative Updates, News and Events, Social / Cultural Issues | No Comments

Last week, the House passed H.R. 5, the deceptively-named “Equality Act” by a vote of 236-173.  By redefining the term sex to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” in civil rights law, this bill elevates “gender identity” over the protected class of sex as male and female, giving any person the right to claim “gender identity” as the opposite sex at any time.  This sounds absurd, but the bill strips women from any protection from men who would identify as women in bathrooms, locker rooms, women’s shelters, sports competition, and more.

Before final passage, Republicans attempted to expose the threats to female athletes with a “motion to recommit with instructions.” A motion to recommit (MTR) is a procedural vote that would send the bill back to the relevant House committee with instructions on changes that should be made.  If an MTR is successful, a vote on final passage would be delayed until the committee fixes the bill and sends it back to the whole House for consideration.

The so-called Equality Act effectively erases women’s sports by opening up any competition to biological men who identify as women. The MTR for H.R. 5 was very narrowly tailored to amend the bill to ensure that nothing may be construed to weaken any protections under Title IX to ensure female athletes have equal opportunity.  This would have at least safeguarded the integrity of girls’ and women’s sports. Negating Title IX in the so-called “Equality Act” is a deep flaw in the bill, acknowledged by people across the political spectrum.  Unfortunately, the MTR was rejected along party lines by a vote of 181-228.

The need to protect female sports is not a hypothetical situation; the unfair playing field is happening already because of similar state and local laws. Selina Soule, a high school track athlete in Connecticut, lost her chance to compete in the New England championship this year after two biological males took first and second place in the 55-meter dash. This week, CeCe Telfer, who previously competed as a male, has stolen an opportunity for a female athlete to compete in the 100 and 400-meter hurdles in the NCAA Division II Women’s Track and Field Championships.

The so-called Equality Act’s unverifiable and unscientific attempt to address discrimination by elevating protections for certain groups on the basis of a new definition of sex is a direct threat against every woman in America.  Its effects are nothing less than extreme, far-reaching, and uncontainable and the gutting of Title IX is just one of these effects. Supporters have no way of defending the “Equality Act” against these threats to women even though basic common sense makes it obvious to most people. It’s a shame 228 House members blindly jumped on the bandwagon.

At this time, the Senate has no plans to take up the bill. However, 46 Senators, almost half the Senate, are cosponsors of the identical Senate bill. It remains a threat that must be opposed.

Senate Dems Deny the Facts About the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act

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On Monday, February 25, the U.S. Senate failed to advance S. 311, the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska). The bill needed 60 votes and failed by a vote of 53-44, with three senators not voting: Sens. Cramer (R-North Dakota), Scott (R-South Carolina), and Murkowski (R-Alaska). Sens. Cramer and Scott’s offices informed CWA they were unable to attend the vote due to weather delays. They are both original cosponsors of the bill and would have voted “yes. Sen. Tim Scott spoke at length on the Senate floor the day after the vote, declaring: “This is common sense; this is human decency. This is not an issue of being pro-life or pro-choice. This is being pro-child.” For information on how your senator voted, click here. 

Democrat Sens. Manchin (D-West Virginia), Jones (D-Alabama), and Casey (D-Pennsylvania) joined the 53vote majority, while every other Senate Democrat opposed Born Alive. Their excuses for defending infanticide on the Senate floor were straight from the talking points of Planned Parenthood and NARAL. Many of them claimed this does not happen. Wrong. Documented statistics by the Center for Disease Control say otherwise. Only six states require reporting cases of infants born alive after an attempted abortion, so we don’t know just how frequently this happens, but there is no question that it does. Abortion survivors like Melissa Ohden and Gianna Jessen have testified before Congress detailing their personal stories and asking for protections for babies who survive abortion 

Democrats also claimed the bill is unnecessary, because killing a child born alive is already illegal. While Congress did pass, and President George W. Bush signed into law, the Born Alive Infants Protection Act in 2002, it only defined a “person,” “human being,” “child,” or “individual” as including every infant born alive for the purposes of federal law. But the law did not contain any penalty provisions or requirements. This is the issue the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act seeks to correct. It would give law enforcement the legal tools to bring criminal penalties against a health care professional who fails to provide care for a child who is born alive. Some states do impose penalties, but New York repealed their born alive law, and Vermont is close to doing so. Federal law must address this. 

Here are the facts about the Born Alive Act: It is NOT about private medical decisions between woman and her doctor and does not change abortion laws. It is not about first, second, or thirdtrimester abortions; it is about infanticide. The bill only addresses failed abortions and would not substitute Congress’ judgment for standard medical practice in heartbreaking cases when a child is born but is not viable. It mandates the same degree of care be granted to children who survive abortions that would be given to a child born in other circumstances at the same gestational age, including hospitalizationIt also shields birth mothers from prosecution and grants them the right to take civil action against health care professional who fails to provide this care.   

The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is not an extreme “anti-choice” bill. 82% of Americans oppose removing medical care for a viable child after birth, including 77% of pro-choice Americans. Undeniably, Americans widely support this bill. It is now up to the House to correct the failure of the Senate. Speaker Pelosi is standing in the way by denying daily requests to bring this bill to the House floor.  Next month, House Republicans will attempt to force the bill on the floor for a vote through a discharge petition. Please call your congressman today and ask him/her to cosponsor H.R. 962, the House version of S. 311, and sign the discharge petition when it is ready for consideration.  

 

Another Hard-fought Victory This Week – Sex Trafficking

By | Blog, House Legislative Updates, Legislative Updates, News and Events, Senate Legislative Updates, Sexual Exploitation | No Comments

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