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Senate Legislative Updates

Senate Actions on Education Bills

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Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) is targeting support on education legislation towards the Student Empowerment Act, S. 157 and the Equal Campus Access Act, S. 1168. CWALAC is ensuring that your voice is heard so that families have the flexibility to spend money they’ve saved for their children’s education to best fit their children’s individual needs and to make sure religious groups don’t have to worry about losing First Amendment rights when they step onto a college campus. Currently, we are working on getting more cosponsors in the Senate for both bills.

The Student Empowerment Act, H.R. 621, enables parents to spend the money they have set aside for their children’s education in a way that best meets the individual needs of each child. It allows the money to be spent on K-12 educational expenses like educational therapies for children with disabilities, tutoring, testing fees, book, tuition, and more, to be paid from a 529 savings account, regardless of if that child is in public, private, religious, or homeschool institutions.

The Student Empowerment Act was initially included in the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement, or the Secure Act, and unanimously approved by the House Ways and Means Committee. But the Student Empowerment Act was taken out of the base bill by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the request of the teachers’ unions. Despite Pelosi’s action on the bill, members on both sides of the aisle, as demonstrated by the Ways and Means Committee, understand parents know their child best and deserve the flexibility to tailor services to their child’s unique specifications. The bill, introduced by Senator Cruz (R-Texas), is currently with the Senate Finance Committee. We have sent a letter of support to the Senate Finance Committee, as well as a request for cosponsors to the entire Senate. Currently, our efforts are focused on getting more cosponsors.

The Equal Campus Access Act, introduced by Senator Blunt (R-Missouri), ensures that faith-based student groups have the same rights and protections as other student organizations at public colleges and universities. This bill protects First Amendment liberties for the students who have lost access to rights, benefits, and privileges for their clubs. Thirty-one states have known incidences where religious student organizations lost those rights”. Public universities do not have the power to repress the First Amendment rights of its students. This bill also affirms the right of faith-based organizations to require a leader to adhere to their club’s beliefs. This allows those organizations to have a faith-based leader without repercussions.

The Supreme Court affirmed the Equal Access Act as constitutional in 1984 in the 8-1 decision Mergens v. Board of Education. The decision stated public schools cannot discriminate against religious extracurricular clubs. The Equal Campus Access Act is merely an expansion from public high schools to college campuses. This is not the promotion of religion by public universities; it is the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. Public universities must only treat religious students and clubs equally to other students and clubs—no more, no less. The latest action regarding this bill is that it has been referred to the committee on Health, Labor and Pensions, otherwise known as the HELP Committee. We are lobbying Senators to cosponsor this bill and partnering with coalition organizations to demonstrate a multi-faith front of support to the Senate.

These actions taken by Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee aim to protect the children of every parent and help ensure First Amendment rights. We need you and your voice to be heard to make sure these bills pass. Please encourage your senators to cosponsor both the Student Empowerment Act (S. 157) and the Campus Equal Access Act (S. 1168).

 

Weekly Update for June 9, 2018 from CWA’s Legislative Department

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Washington, D.C. – This week amplified the call to defund Planned Parenthood with shocking new evidence of how abortion clinics have engaged in aiding abusers and intimidating employees from not reporting client sexual abuse. Live Action’s report, Aiding Abusers:  Planned Parenthood’s Cover-up of Child Sexual Abuse, compiles court cases, reports from state health departments, testimonies from former employees, and interviews with survivors to uncover Planned Parenthood’s culture of complicity and unwritten “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.   For example, documented cases have involved girls as young as 12 and 13 years old whose perpetrators, including their own fathers, forced them to abort their pregnancies.  Planned Parenthood did not report the abuse to authorities as required by law and then sent these wounded girls out the door with their abusers.

This unconscionable track record is why the Trump Administration’s proposed Protect Life Rule includes a provision requiring any recipient of Title X family planning funds to comply with all state and local laws on reporting child sexual abuse, molestation, incest, rape, intimate partner violence and human trafficking.

On Thursday, 56 pro-life Senators called on the Trump Administration to investigate Planned Parenthood’s failure to report suspected sexual abuse of minors in their care through the Title X program.  In a letter to HHS Secretary Azar, Senators request all records of incidents of failure to report abuse, documentation of consequences, and data from the past decade of how many children below the age of consent were served and how many reports of abuse were made.

These developments further the importance for every member of CWA to go to our website’s special page, ConcernedWomen.org/ProtectLifeRule, and submit a comment supporting all provisions of the Administration’s proposed Protect Life Rule.  We have a unique opportunity to speak loudly for those who cannot speak for themselves, to protect life and those who give life, to thank this Administration for standing on the side of life and against abortion and abuse.   Please comment today!

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 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.

 

Graham-Cassidy Bill: Last Chance for Health Care Reform

By | News and Events, Planned Parenthood, Press Releases, Sanctity of Life, Senate Legislative Updates, Uncategorized | No Comments

Washington, D.C. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) as well as Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nevada) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) have teamed up and introduced a bill that gives power over health care decisions back to the states and the American people. The Graham-Cassidy health care bill is the Senate’s last chance to pass health care reform with a simple majority vote through the reconciliation process in 2017. The Senate has a hard deadline of September 30.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America issued the following statement in response:

“Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee is proud to support the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. It is time to make good on the promise made to the American people to end ObamaCare.

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for health care. Sens. Graham and Cassidy have provided a bill that gives power back to the states.

“Improving health care means protecting life at all stages, and Graham-Cassidy does just that. This legislation ensures that no funds within the bill will be, or can be, used to subsidize plans that provide abortion coverage &emdash; something every other bill has failed to address. Most importantly, it redirects Medicaid funds away from Planned Parenthood and gives them to federally qualified health centers which provide care for the whole woman.

“All the funds provided through this legislation will go through CHIP (Child Health Insurance Programs) &emdash; a bipartisan effort to ensure underprivileged children are able to receive healthcare. It is time to give Americans real care instead of “insurance” that is not worth the plastic on which it is printed.

“While it may not solve every problem plaguing the American health care and insurance industry, Graham-Cassidy is a vast improvement over the status quo, providing momentum that enables other issues to be addressed.

“The American people have been waiting eight years to be given back their right to make their own health care choices.

“Now is the time to make good on the promise made to the American people.”

For an interview with Penny Nance contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.

Senate Legislative Update for September 12, 2014

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With only two weeks left before the Senate goes out of session for the month of October, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has decided to waste time – time that could be spent working on funding our government. Instead, Reid chose to focus the bulk of the week highlighting a measure that would restrict the First Amendment to the Constitution.

This theoretical approach is just that, wasting time to put on a show in hopes of sending a message to the American people on the 2010 Citizens United decision – a decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government cannot keep corporations from spending money in elections.

So, with little likelihood of passing, Leader Reid continues his vendetta against campaign spending at the expense of productivity.

The Senate is also rehashing the Paycheck Fairness bill that the chamber voted down in April.

To view CWA’s letter of opposition on Paycheck Fairness, click here.

Senate Legislative Update for August 1, 2014

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The Senate was busy this week closing out legislative items before leaving for the August recess.

Israel Resolution: On Tuesday, the Senate passed a resolution supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against the terrorist group Hamas. It also condemned the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that called for an investigation into potential human rights violations by Israel.

This resolution was passed through by Unanimous Consent.

Iron Dome Funding: On Friday, the Senate approved an emergency measure to fund Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. The additional $225 million will assist Israel in defending itself and its people against the missile attacks launched by the terrorist group Hamas.

Israel’s objective since the start of this conflict has been to restore peace and security for the people of Israel. CWALAC is pleased that the United States Senate has helped get supportive legislation through during Israel’s time of need.

United State-Israel Strategic Partnership Act: CWALAC was disappointed that the Senate did not pass the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act before it left for its five-week summer recess. Now more than ever, the world needs to hear America’s support for Israel.

Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) reintroduced this bill on July 28 with 80 cosponsors. The legislation, if passed, would declare that Israel is a “major strategic partner” of the United States.

Action: Please call your senators at 202-224-3121 and urge them to support this legislation. If your senator is already a cosponsor (click here to see), please thank them for their support.

Senate Legislative Update for July 25, 2014

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Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed this treaty by a vote of 12-6.

It is likely that the Senate will bring this United Nations treaty to the floor for a vote in September.

To read CWALAC’s letter on the CRPD, click here.

Action: Please call your senators at 202-224-3121 and ask them to vote against ratification of the CRPD if it comes to the Senate floor.

Nomination of Pamela Harris: On Monday, the chamber confirmed, by a vote of 50-43, Pamela Harris to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. This is a nominee who CWALAC opposed due to her extreme liberal ideologies on life and partial-birth abortion.

To read CWALAC’s letter that was sent to the Senate, click here.

Senate Legislative Update for July 18, 2014

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Anti-Religious Liberty Vote: This week, Senate Democrats tried to pass an anti-religious liberty bill that would restrict American’s First Amendment rights like never before. 60-votes were needed in a crucial procedural vote. If passed, S.2578 would have trumped the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling. Members stopped this by a vote of 56-43.

CWALAC sent a letter to the Senate urging them not to pass this extreme measure. To read CWALAC letter, click here.

Women’s Health Protection Act: The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s (D-Connecticut) bill, the “Women’s Health Protection Act.” This bill, if passed, would override nearly all federal and state laws restricting abortion, including late-term bans.

To read the letter CWALAC sent to the Senate, click here.

Israel Resolution: Thursday night, the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, S.Res.498. This resolution supported Israel’s right to defend itself against current rocket attacks by the terrorist group, Hamas. It also called for President Abbas to break his recent unification with the terrorist group.

 

Senate Update: June 13, 2014

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Support for Israel: This week, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) circulated a bipartisan letter addressed to President Obama highlighting the June 2 Palestinian Authority government unity with Hamas. This new government unity is deeply concerning as Hamas has carried out deadly acts against Israel and is categorized as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia.

Responding to this matter of “grave concern,” 88 senators across the political spectrum signed on to this letter, urging the President to impress on President Abbas, the president of the unity, the need to cease any alliance with Hamas and return to the negotiating table with Israel.  “Any assistance (to the Palestinian Authority),” the senators write, “should only be provided when we have confidence that this new government is in full compliance with the restrictions contained in current law.”  CWALAC applauds the bold statement made by these 88 senators and stands alongside their action as we all stand together with Israel.

Senate Update: June 6, 2014

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Free Speech: S. J. Res. 19, a resolution that seeks to alter the First Amendment, was brought before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing this past Tuesday. This hotly debated legislation, introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), would amend the United States Constitution and dramatically stifle free speech in the political arena. Revising the Constitution in this manner would sanction more “top-down” control and, in turn, manipulate the election process by limiting political fundraising, spending, and contributions.  Further, by specifically enumerating and protecting the “freedoms of the press,” this act discounts our other vital freedoms of religion, assembly, petition, etc.

During the Judiciary Committee hearing attended by CWALAC staff, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) spoke out in defense of the First Amendment and against this resolution, pointing to the Bill of Rights as a set of precious freedoms derived from our Creator and enumerated by our Founding Fathers. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) also spoke out against this imposing bill, calling it a “scandalous” act.  Likewise, CWALAC reacted and sent to each Member on the Judiciary Committee a score letter stating our strong OPPOSITION to this resolution.

Take Action: Please come alongside Sens. Cruz, Grassley, and McConnell and the CWALAC team and urge your senator to strike down S. J. Res. 19!

Senate Legislative Update for May 16, 2014

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#BringBackOurGirls: This week the Subcommittee on African Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the Boko Haram threat. Officials from the Pentagon testified on their current U.S. efforts to provide aid to the Nigerian military.

For more information, click here.

Reid’s Personal Vendetta: For months, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has been calling out Charles and David Koch, generally referred to as “the Koch brothers,” on the Senate floor. This week, he took his personal vendetta to the extreme. Reid voiced support for a constitutional amendment that would restrict the First Amendment.

In doing so, he sought to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which affirmed what many already assume to be part of their First Amendment rights — the right to engage in independent political speech and to give money to the candidates of your choice.

For more information, click here.

Early Education Bill in Committee: This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee marked up a bill that would create additional federal control over education, S.1697.

The bill specially looks at early education, creating additional grant programs to expand the already far-reaching control of the federal government. Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R- Tennessee) sought to offer a substitute amendment that would give states the option of using the funds as they see fit, instead of how the federal government instructs them to use it.

To read Sen. Alexander’s press statement on his proposal, click here.

 

Senate Legislative Update for May 2, 2014

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As a result of the “nuclear option” that Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) implemented last year, the Senate continues to hastily push through judicial nominations.

Monday, the Senate approved the nomination of Michelle T. Friedland for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Despite the almost impossible battle of stopping this nomination (because of the “nuclear option” leaving Democrats with the ability to pass through judicial nominees with no bi-partisan support), Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC ) could not be silent on this nominee’s record.

Miss Friedland’s record raises serious questions about her judicial philosophy, especially when it comes to the proper role of a judge. With the types of cases coming before the courts today, it is important to make sure each judge upholds current law and does not rule based on personal philosophy.

To read CWALAC’s letter that was sent to the Hill, click here.