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Legislative Updates

Legislative Update for February 21, 2014

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Both the Senate and the House of Representatives were out-of-session this week.

House

While Members of Congress were in their districts, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) continued to meet with House staff on the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014, H.R. 3865.  Since this legislation was only reported out of the Ways and Means Committee the week before, many staffers were unaware of the legislation.  We highlighted the importance of prohibiting the IRS from finalizing its proposed regulation that would restrict first amendment rights of free speech for 501(c)(4) organizations.  During several of these meetings, we had the opportunity to see the power of prayer.  In one office, a staffer shared how his mother was a good friend of Linda LaHaye Murphy, who led her to the Lord on a trip to the Grand Canyon.  Another office shared how they had a preacher on staff and started each morning in their Congressional office with prayer and a devotional.

Act: Please call your representative and ask him to support H.R. 3865.  Click here to find your representative.  And please continue to pray for your elected officials and their staff.  Prayer changes things.

Legislative Update for February 14, 2014

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House

Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act (H.R. 3865): The Ways and Means Committee favorably reported Rep. Dave Camp’s bill on Tuesday, February 11, along a party-line vote.  This bill would prevent the IRS from finalizing a rule that would restrict 501(c)(4) organizations (like Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee) and silence our voices, in violation of our First Amendment rights.  We expect this bill to be voted on by the entire House at the end of February.

Click here to read the letter we sent to the House.

Please call your representative today and urge him/her to support H.R. 3865. To find your representative, click here.

Marriage Week:  This week is National Marriage Week.  On February 11, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) organized a special order to promote the importance for families of marriage between one man and one woman.  The following representatives spoke on the floor: Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), Bradley Byrne (R-Alabama), Scott Garrett (R-New Jersey), Doug LaMalfa (R-California), Randy Weber (R-Texas), and Ted Yoho (R-Florida).

Senate

State Marriage Defense: Wednesday, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the State Marriage Defense Act (S.2024).  This bill counters the announced policy regarding marriage made by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which states that the U.S. federal government will recognize all same-sex unions, even in states that declare marriage as being between one man and one woman.

This decision by the DOJ violates states’ rights by taking the opinion from United States vs. Windsor made by the Supreme Court and extending it to states whose laws uphold traditional marriage.

To read CWALAC’s support letter, click here.

Action: Please call your senators at 202-224-3121 and urge them to cosponsor the State Marriage Defense Act, S. 2024.  To find your senators, click here.

IRS Proposed Rule: Tuesday, Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) introduced the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act, S.2011, along with 37 additional senators; those offering their support include: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota), and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

This bill, like the one introduced in the House, seeks to prevent the IRS from enacting regulations that would silence Americans’ First Amendment rights.

To read CWALAC’s support letter, click here.

Debt Ceiling Increase:  The Senate passed a debt ceiling increase this week, sending the measure to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

Many conservatives are disappointed with the way the debt ceiling talks have concluded. Currently, conservatives in both chambers, who have been fighting for cuts and accountability on spending, are finding their hands tied.  The only real chance at addressing our growing 17-trillion-dollar debt is during the mid-term elections.

 

Legislative Update for February 7, 2014

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This week started off with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) hurling a direct blow to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The study released by that non-partisan group exposed the troublesome ramifications that come with the ACA and what it will cost the American people.

House

On February 5, the House Ways and Means Oversight Committee held a hearing with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen regarding the ongoing investigation of IRS targeting of conservative groups and the newly proposed regulations to silence conservative organizations like Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.

This hearing was the first one since Koskinen became commissioner, and he appeared to be towing the administration’s line by refusing to say whether he would comply with Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s request to provide IRS and Treasury documents that would shed light on these newly proposed regulations.

Chairman Camp has also introduced legislation, The Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act, H.R. 3865, that would prohibit the IRS from enacting these regulations.  Please ask your representative to cosponsor and support this bill.  To find your representative, click here.

For more information about the IRS proposed regulations, click here.

CWALAC joined Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) on Thursday for his first Google Hangout.  We thanked him for fighting for our families and protecting religious liberties.

Senate

Common Core: Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) introduced a Common Core Resolution (S.Res 345) to amplify the importance of keeping education decision making on a local level. CWA’s State Directors have been working to hold their governors accountable for signing away their constitutional rights and handing power over to the federal government.

To read CWALAC’s press statement, click here.

Action: Call your senators at 202-224-3121 and urge them to sign onto Sen. Graham’s Common Core Resolution, S.Res 345.

Iran Sanction Hearing: Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has appeased the administration by not bring up the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, which currently has 59 co-sponsors, including 13 Democrats, and would expect to pass with more than 70 votes. Instead, the administration is content chasing after a bone that Iran will likely not give up.

Congress has been very clear that they will put the safety of our ally Israel and the rest of the Middle East first, which is the message that was echoed in this week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, where senators questioned Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and David S. Cohen, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financing at the U.S. Department of Treasury, on nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Action: Call your senators at 202-224-3121 and urge them to co-sponsor — and tell leadership to bring to the floor — the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act (S.1881). To find your senators, click here.

To read CWALAC’s letter of support, sent to Capitol Hill, for the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, click here.

IRS Proposed Rule: This week, top Congressional Republicans sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner, urging him to keep a level perspective and not to accept the new Obama Administration proposed regulation that would end 501 c4s, including Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has been outspoken on this violation of free speech, speaking on the Senate Floor as a way to alert the American people to what this administration is seeking to do.

Sen. McConnell said Thursday, “And here’s the thing: the administration knows it could never get anything like this through Congress the democratic way, so it’s trying to quietly impose the new regulations through the back door — by executive fiat.”

The new rule would redefine what outside groups can do to silence the voice of conservatives.

Legislative Update for December 20, 2013

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With the House of Representatives out of session for the remainder of the year, the Senate is in for the long haul.

House

LegisUpdateLogoENDA:   On December 16, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee’s (CWALAC) Director of House Legislation, Shari Rendall, participated in a panel discussion on the House side opposing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  CWALAC appreciates Speaker John Boehner for clearly stating that this is not a House priority.  However, Democrats have mentioned trying to bypass the legislative process and get ENDA to the floor by getting 218 Members of Congress onto a discharge petition.  The House ENDA bill already has 200 cosponsors.

No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion:  CWALAC warned about the abortion funding in ObamaCare.  In light of the answers provided by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the questions posed by Rep. John Shimkus about which health care plans cover abortion, it is clearly evident, in order to ensure Americans are not forced to subsidize abortions, that the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion, H.R. 7, needs to be passed.  CWALAC signed onto a coalition letter urging Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor to pass H.R. 7 early next year.

The Healthcare Conscience Rights Act: Now that Congress has passed a budget and spending bills will need to be considered prior to January 15, the House must include conscience protections to any omnibus spending bill in order to protect the religious freedoms of all Americans.  As of January 1, 2014, the HHS mandate will be active.  While the Supreme Court will hear the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods case, we need to ensure that there is a legislative fix.  CWALAC signed onto a coalition letter urging Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor to include conscience protections in any omnibus spending bill considered by the House.

Act now: Please urge your representative to ask Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor to include conscience protections in the omnibus spending bill that will be voted on in January.  Click here to find your representative.

Senate

Budget: Wednesday, the Senate passed, by a vote of 64-36, the bipartisan budget agreement set forth by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Washington).

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has prevented the Senate from bring up amendments, a tactic only the Majority Leader can make. In doing this, he keeps a bipartisan agreement to impose new sanctions against Iran. This is a topic many senators have said they will bring up after the New Year.

The president has stated that the Senate’s new Iran punishments won’t be enacted; if the Senate does pass legislation, even if supported by a wide base, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama will veto it.

Despite this, the Senate did vote 64-36 to approve the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2014. To see how your member voted, click here.

Judicial Nomination/Nuclear Option: As judicial nominations no longer require 60 votes, thanks to the change in precedent accomplished through the “nuclear option,” Majority Leader Reid finished the week by filing cloture on ten nominees. These nominees weren’t as controversial as last week’s, but the sheer will by leadership to push the administration’s agenda before the year’s end is appalling.

Majority Leader Reid is determined to get his last batch of nominees through and has stated he will keep the Senate in session till that is done, which could be up to Christmas Eve.

Endorsements: Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) introduced the “Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” this week. This legislation seeks to clarify which health insurance plans, offered under the health care exchange, offer abortion coverage. It also requires transparency with regards to the amount of the abortion surcharge.

Take Action: Please call your senators at 202-224-3121, and urge them to cosponsor Sen. Roberts’ bill, S. 1848, the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act.

Legislative Update for December 6, 2013

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House

LegisUpdateLogoWhile the House and Senate were out last week, the Obama Internal Revenue Service (IRS) proposed new guidelines for 501(c)(4) organizations, which will have the significant effect of chilling advocacy groups’ activities, particularly in how they communicate to their members.  In typical Obama Administration form, the IRS took action towards silencing 501(c)(4)s, instead of addressing the real issue of why conservative organizations were being targeted.

Budget negotiations were being hammered out this week, with plans to vote on a budget next week.  CWALAC met with leadership staff and urged them to maintain the spending cuts and caps imposed by the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011.

Take Action: Please call your representative at 202-225-3121 and ask him/her to support the bipartisan spending cuts and caps. Click here to find your representative.

Senate

The Senate was out of session on its Thanksgiving recess.

Legislative Update for November 22, 2013

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House

LegisUpdateLogoHHS Mandate:  While President Obama is proposing a band-aid fix for those Americans who lost their health insurance, the Supreme Court is preparing to decide whether to hear the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases on the HHS mandate.  Unless Congress passes legislation to protect conscience, Americans will be forced in January to subsidize abortion-inducing drugs.  Please call your representative at 202-225-3121 and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.  Click here to find your representative.

Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA):  This week marked the 20th anniversary of RFRA, which is the preeminent federal protection for religious liberty.  CWALAC worked with other like-minded groups to pass this important legislation.

Senate

Nuclear Option Threat: There has been an on-going debate over the procedural powers of the Majority and Minority in the Senate. The last time Republicans threatened to make this rule change in 2005, Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said, “Ultimately, this is about removing the last check in Washington against complete abusive power.” Now, since taking control, Majority Leader Reid has changed his tune.

The “nuclear option” was deployed on Thursday as a way to weaken the Minority’s voice when “checking” the president’s judicial appointments. The filibuster was first allowed by the Ninth Congress in 1806; this change will likely have serious future implications for how the United States Senate operates.

Alexander Hamilton explained the Senate rules — which are now, after 207 years of Senate precedent, “amended” — in Federalist No. 76, noting the Senate will serve as “an excellent check upon the spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to preventing the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity.”

The Senate voted 48-52 to change cloture on federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments, expect for Supreme Court nominees, moving the voting threshold from supermajority to simple majority. All Republicans and three Democrats voted against the change.  Click here to see how your member voted.

Legislative Update for November 15, 2013

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House

Keep Your Health Plan Act: On Friday, the House voted 261-157 for a bill that would allow health insurers to continue to offer current plans for an additional year even if they don’t meet the ObamaCare requirements. Thirty-nine Democrats joined Republicans to support this legislation.

Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) joined over 20 conservative and free market groups to support this legislation. In addition, CWALAC provided real examples to Members of Congress about their constituents, who are losing their health care coverage because of ObamaCare.

Protecting Our First Amendment Rights: CWALAC helped Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) get 30 Members of Congress to sign on to a letter to President Obama, calling on him to protect our First Amendment rights.

Throughout his presidency, President Obama and his administration have continued to trample our religious freedoms. Since the United States v. Windsor case, federal agencies have bypassed the rulemaking process and Congressional oversight by issuing memorandums and guidance that have the effect of rules. Click here for more information.

Senate

Judicial Nominations: Tuesday, the Senate took up the nomination of Cornelia T.L. Pillard for U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and voted against moving her nomination forward.

Pillard is an extreme nominee; she even called out Concerned Women for America (CWA) in a publication titled, “Our Other Reproductive Choices: Equality in Sex Education, Contraceptive Access, and Work-Family,” in which she stated:

“CWA, a powerful abstinence-only proponent, consistently expresses support for ‘motherhood.’ CWA’s advocacy exploits a useful ambiguity in the meaning of that word, referring both to the unassailable fact that women who bear children are mothers and to the traditional, sex-based assignment of women to the social role of primary family caregiver — a role that CWA particularly champions.”

Click here for CWALAC’s press release.

Support for Israel: Talks in Geneva were brought to light this week as the Obama Administration sought to come to an agreement with Iran, whose goal is to get the U.S. economic sanctions lifted, and be able to still develop its nuclear program.

For the safety of Israel, it’s imperative that Iran does not gain nuclear capabilities.

To gain more of an understanding of Iran sanctions and the Senate’s possible role, please read the following:

Click here to view CWALAC response.

Click here to read CWALAC Senate Legislative Director’s article on possible Senate actions.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): If ratified, this United Nations treaty will erode parental consent. It would do this by making U.S. law subject to a United Nations Committee.

The CRPD has language that would, for the first time in any binding law, contain the phrase “sexual and reproductive rights.” Just this past May, the United Nations Children’s Fund interpreted the CRPD as giving children as young as 10 years of age the “right” to sexual and reproductive health services without any consent from their parents.

Action: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have its second hearing on the CRPD next week, November 21. Check the list below to see if your senator sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. If they do, please call and urge them to oppose ratification of this treaty.

Majority Seats:

  1. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) – (202) 224-4744
  2. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) – (202) 224-3553
  3. Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland) – (202) 224- 4524
  4. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) – (202) 224-5042
  5. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) – (202) 224- 2152
  6. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) – (202) 224-4024
  7. Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) – (202) 224-2742
  8. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Connecticut) – (202) 224-4041
  9. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) – (202) 224-2841
  10. Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) – (202) 224-6621

Minority Seats:

  1. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) – (202) 224-2946
  2. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) – (202) 224-3041
  3. Sen. Bob Corker (R- Tennessee) – (202) 224- 3344
  4. Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) – (202) 224-2752
  5. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) – (202) 224-5323
  6. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) – (202) 224-4521
  7. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) – (202) 244-2235
  8. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) – (202) 224-4343

Click here to view the last hearing on the CRPD, November 5.