Legislation Update: Week of November 1

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The week leading up to the elections was a flurry of activity negative campaign ads, last-minute campaign stops, and even special (translation: desperate) rally appearances for Democrat candidates by the likes of Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton.Needless to say, it seemed that voters cast their votes on November 2 and then sighed with relief that midterm elections would soon be over.

In the end, election night turned out to be an historic event. As of the early morning hours of November 3, 2010, it looks like Republicans had taken upwards of 60 seats in the House of Representatives and captured the majority.Democrats held on to the majority in the Senate, but Republicans did pick up six seats and are still waiting to hear results from a few uncalled races.Republicans have already shattered the 1994 record in the House, when they gained 54 seats.

Several victorious conservative candidates said in their victory speeches that the midterm elections were a message to Washington that American voters did not want to see big government, reckless spending, and a disdain for the traditional values that millions of Americans espouse.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) is now gearing up for the lame duck session and will be vigilant amidst concerns that Democrats will try to shove through harmful legislation before they officially relinquish control of the House in January.

Defense Authorization:

There is still word on the street that once the elections are over, the DOD Authorization bill will emerge in the lame duck session.

We continue to report that the Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization bill, instead of focusing on our armed forces, includes three especially contentious provisions.  The bill includes a repeal of the 1993 law banning homosexuals from serving openly in the military, a provision to allow abortion on overseas and domestic military installations, and a measure to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16.

In September, the Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to proceed to the bill.  The final vote on cloture was 56 Yes and 43 No.  All Republicans plus Arkansas Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor voted against cloture. 

CWA will continue to communicate with senators offices and urge them to use the lame duck session to pass a DOD Authorization bill that focuses on funding our armed forces, not on granting amnesty to illegal immigrants or using the armed forces as a Petri dish for liberal social policies.

IVAWA (International Violence Against Women Act):

CWA has major concerns with IVAWA and opposed the legislation as it moved through the Senate.  Our concerns include the undervaluing of marriage and family, the lack of pro-life language in the bill, the funding of programs which participate in Chinas one-child policy of forcing abortions on women, and the increase of power given to the Secretary of State to oversee funds without oversight.

The Senate was scheduled to hold a committee vote on IVAWA on September 30, 2010, but the hearing was cancelled.  It is unclear if certain senators will bring IVAWA up again after the elections, but we will continue to remain vigilant.

Fiscal Issues:

As of right now, the federal government is only funded through December 3, 2010, so Congress must take action when they reconvene the week of November 15.There was talk of passing a continuing resolution, but CWA is now hearing that Congress will pass a mini omnibus bill and write out specific spending legislation.Naturally, there are fears that Democrats will use the lame duck session to shove their final spending wish list through before they officially relinquish the majority in the House.

Amidst the changing budget and spending rumors, the CWA Legislation department has met regularly with staffers in the House of Representatives to discuss concerns about the expiration of the Bush tax credits.The pro-family tax credits, including child and adoption tax credits, are set to expire on December 31, 2010.CWA staff urged congressional offices to vote to extend the tax credits, as they greatly benefit families with children and adoptive parents.As well, CWA staff communicated concerns about the estate tax, also known as the death tax if the House does not move to lower the estate tax, then it will kick up to 55 percent after December 31, 2010.

Many offices expressed that their constituents are suffering financially during this time, and that their representatives would at least support extending the tax credits for two years.CWA will continue to urge congressmen to take action on these important tax issues and not impose further crippling tax hikes on Americans.

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010 (S. 2925 RS)

CWA has concerns about S. 2925, the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010.This legislation seeks to decriminalize prostitution for minors.While the rhetoric may seem plausible for doing so, in reality, criminal prostitution laws should be kept in place for minors in order to allow for judicial and prosecutorial discretion in each case.

In other words, criminal prostitution laws for minors serve as a layer of protection between the minor and their exploiter.The laws enable police to investigate these crimes and intercede.Sometimes this means taking a girl into custody, where she can be separated from her pimp and given the help she needs.This does not mean that she must be charged, prosecuted, or jailed, but it would mean that police could effectively intervene and get the girl away from her exploiter.

CWA believes in keeping the prostitution laws in place, even for minors, but adding an affirmative defense to the law and the option of diverting minors into services, such as medical or counseling, while their cases are pending.Then, upon successful completion of the services, their cases could be dismissed.

Other concerns with this legislation exist, and the language greatly needs to be reworked.CWA has met, and will continue to meet, with Senate offices to voice these concerns and encourage a focus on protecting trafficked girls and not putting up further roadblocks to getting them help, namely from law enforcement.Many survivors say that their first step to getting out of prostitution was police intervention.CWA will bring up the point to senators that decriminalization will make victims more vulnerable to pimps and exploiters.

Project 535 Lobby Days:

For future lobby days, the schedule is as follows: 

November: No lobby day

December: No lobby day (Merry Christmas!)

Monday, January 24, 2010: Lobby day (scheduled for Monday to line up with March for Life)

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