On the Hill Updates

On the Hill Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Voting Rights

For the People Act fails procedural vote on June 22

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) held a procedural vote for the For the People Act (S1)* on June 22. The vote on whether the bill should proceed to debate needed 60 votes to pass, and failed 50-50, with all Democrats voting in favor. Majority Leader Schumer knew the vote would fail, but scheduled it anyway to make the political point that Republicans are not going to come to the negotiating table on a voting rights bill, even one that has broad public support. The failure triggered renewed debate on what to do about the 60 vote threshold needed to proceed to debate; i.e. renewed debate on removing or reforming the filibuster — a debate that will play out in the days and weeks ahead. On Tuesday morning, NCJW sent a letter to all Senate offices urging them to let the bill move to debate. After the failure, NCJW released a statement expressing our dismay and vowing to continue the fight to pass S1.

Even though the bill failed the procedural vote yesterday, it is not dead! Majority Leader Schumer is expected to bring the For the People Act up again later in the summer. In the meantime, there is so much we can do to push this essential bill forward.

  • Take Action! Call your senators and tell them you support the For the People Act.
  • Go further! Click here to find how you can plug in near you (this resource will be updated with new opportunities on an ongoing basis).

*A reminder: The For the People Act (S1) is a transformational democracy bill that would strengthen and restore voting rights, offer new protections for voters, end the dominance of big money in politics, and implement anti-corruption, pro-ethics measures to clean up government. The bill passed the House of Representatives in March 2021.

Historic DC statehood hearing

On June 22, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held the chamber’s second-ever hearing on DC Statehood. The District of Columbia is the only world capital whose citizens are disenfranchised; the city’s more than 700,000 residents (the majority of whom are people of color) do not have a voting member of Congress. In April 2021, the House of Representatives passed HR 51, which would grant statehood and voting representation in Congress to the District of Columbia. NCJW believes that DC statehood is a racial justice issue.

Federal Courts

US Appeals Court judge blocks decision to overturn CA assault weapons ban

On June 21, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit extended the current 30-day stay of the June 4 district court ruling striking down California’s decades-old assault weapons ban.This ruling leaves the ban on assault weapons in place while appellate proceedings continue in two similar cases. NCJW supports the expansion and enforcement of laws, policies, and programs that regulate firearms and ammunition, ban assault and other military-style weapons and accessories, and prevent gun violence and promote gun safety.

Senate Judiciary Committee moves on Biden’s federal judicial nominees

On June 23, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Chief Judge Gustavo Gelpí, Jr. to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. As Solicitor General of Puerto Rico, Gelpi argued various important constitutional and public policy issues before the very court to which he has been nominated. If confirmed, Judge Gelpí would become the second judge from Puerto Rico to ever sit on the First Circuit. In the coming weeks, the committee will also vote on the nominations of Eunice Lee to the United State Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Veronica Rossman to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Both Lee and Rossman have spent their careers as public defenders, with Lee representing more than 380 clients over the past 20 years and Rossman representing over 250 clients in the last 12 years. NCJW supports the nominations of Chief Judge Gustavo Gelpi, Jr., Eunice Lee, and Veronica Rossman.

Senate to vote on two nominees

The Senate is soon expected to vote on the nominations of Candace Jackson-Akiwumi to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Tiffany Cunningham to serve on the US Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit. Jackson-Akiwumi has spent her career focused on the most vulnerable, from serving on a law school team that challenged a death row inmate’s sentence to working as a public defender for ten years in Chicago, and Cunningham is a registered patent attorney before the US Patent and Trademark office with over 20 years of experience in patent and intellectual property law. NCJW urges the Senate to confirm Candace Jackson-Akiwumi and Tiffany Cunningham, two outstanding federal judicial nominees.

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