On the Hill Updates: Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Federal Courts

Votes on judicial nominees expected following Senate recess

Three circuit court nominees supported by NCJW are awaiting Senate votes when they return from August recess: Chief Judge Gustavo Gelpí to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Myrna Pérez to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Veronica Rossman to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. As a Puerto Rican jurist, Chief Judge Gelpí would bring a much-needed perspective to the federal judiciary. Pérez is widely considered one of our nation’s top legal minds on voting rights and has argued complex cases in federal and state courthouses across the country. And, Rossman has spent her career as a public defender, representing over 250 clients in the last 12 years.

Take Action! Urge your senators to support the nominations of Chief Judge Gelpí, Myrna Pérez, and Veronica Rossman.

Federal judge delivers mixed results on Indiana abortion restrictions

On August 12, the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana struck down several of the state’s unconstitutional laws, including its ban on telemedicine abortion consultations and policies restricting who and where abortion care can be provided. Despite this win for Indiana patients and the Whole Woman’s Health clinic that brought the case, particularly amidst the ongoing pandemic, the court also upheld a slew of requirements surrounding ultrasounds, hospital admitting privileges, parental consent, and FDA standards for medication abortion care. What’s more, the state attorney general almost immediately appealed the decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, further extending this legal battle over our fundamental right to bodily autonomy. NCJW will continue to monitor this case in furtherance of our work to support the right of every person to access comprehensive, affordable, compassionate, and equitable abortion care in whatever setting they choose and at whatever time they choose.

MPP program in limbo

On August 13, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Biden administration had ended the Trump-era Remain in Mexico program unlawfully. Remain in Mexico, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), forced immigrants and asylum seekers to stay in Mexico — often in dangerous circumstances — for the duration of their legal process to enter the US. President Biden suspended the program his first day in office, then ended it in early June. The judge gave his ruling one week before going into effect, and on August 16, the administration gave notice to the court that it would appeal the ruling. At present, most people seeking to enter the United States at the southern border are blocked due to a cruel policy, heldover from the Trump administration, that uses public health as an excuse to essentially close the border.


John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act reintroduced

On August 17, Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) reintroduced the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (HR 4) in the House of Representatives. The bill will restore the essential portion of the Voting Rights Act that blocks discriminatory voting policies before they go into effect, putting a transparent process in place for protecting everyone’s freedom to vote. NCJW has long supported this bill! House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that the House will vote on the bill early next week.

Republicans block debate on For the People Act

Last week, Senate Republicans blocked the For the People Act from even moving to debate (again). The bill, a priority for NCJW, would ensure everyone’s voice is heard and everyone’s vote is counted by creating national standards for voter accessibility, and will guarantee that congressional districts are drawn to give fair representation for all. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that the bill would be a priority after recess in September, and NCJW put out a policy statement in support of that timing.

March On for Voting Rights

On August 28, the 58th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic March on Washington, NCJW is joining March On, SEUI, National Action Network, and the Drum Major Institute for national action: March On for Voting Rights. We’ll gather in Washington, DC, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, and Phoenix — and other cities across the country — to demand that elected officials denounce voter suppression and ensure fair, easy access to the vote for all. Learn how to get involved!

Faithful Democracy: A Moral Prelude to Marching

People of faith have long been at the heart of the fight to expand and protect the right to vote. Faithful Democracy, an interfaith community of organizations and congregations including National Council of Jewish Women, share the moral imperative of fixing our democracy. On Sunday, August 22 at 3pm ET, NCJW is cosponsoring a Faithful Democracy virtual, interfaith event to kick off the March On for Voting Rights activities across the country (see paragraph above). We’ll come together to share our spiritual struggle against voter suppression and be inspired to march! Register here.

Additional Updates

Historic changes to SNAP program

The Biden Administration made the largest permanent increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on August 16. Under the new rules beginning on October 1, the $121 per person before the pandemic will rise by 27% to about $157 per person. The increase comes before the expanded pandemic SNAP benefits expire on September 30. SNAP is our nation’s largest nutrition assistance program, currently helping 42 million people buy groceries.

Senate passes budget resolution

Last week the Senate passed the FY 2022 Budget Resolution, which includes reconciliation instructions directing the federal government to make a $3.5 trillion investment to advance President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. These instructions shape the final budget reconciliation bill, which needs only a simple majority of 51 votes to pass. Congressional committees have until September 15 to draft the language for the bill, but we know it will include many NCJW priorities: expanding health care, implementing paid leave, fighting child poverty, investing in education, and creating a path to citizenship for millions of immigrant youth, people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), farm workers, and essential workers. NCJW cares deeply that these priorities become law.

  • Take Action! Tell your senators that Congress must build an economy that helps families.