On the Hill Updates

On the Hill Updates: Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Funding bills eliminate abortion coverage bans

On July 12, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) appropriations bill for fiscal year 2022 was released and did not contain the discriminatory Hyde Amendment. This means that the ban on abortion coverage through federal health plans and programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program was eliminated in the bill. Hyde language was also removed from the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill, impacting those in federal prisons and immigration detention; the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill (SFOPS), impacting Peace Corps volunteers; and the Financial Services and General Government bill, impacting federal employees and dependents. The Global Gag Rule (which blocks US funds from foreign organizations that provide abortion services, referrals, or information or that advocate for abortion access in their own countries) and the Helms Amendment (which bars US foreign assistance funds from being used for abortion services) were also eliminated from the SFOPS bill.

We’ve advocated for decades to end these immoral policies that have denied access to abortion care both across the US and around the world. Now, representatives (particularly Appropriations Committee members) must reject efforts by anti-abortion lawmakers to add these discriminatory and immoral coverage bans back into the bills. Instead, NCJW urges lawmakers to pass clean bills to ensure respect, dignity, and equal access to the resources necessary to control our bodies, families, and futures, including insurance coverage of abortion.

Federal Courts

Advocates sue to block Texas abortion ban

On July 13, a coalition of Texas abortion providers and funds alongside practical support networks, doctors, health center staff, and clergy members filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas to block the state’s six-week abortion ban. The law (known as SB 8) also includes an outrageous and unprecedented provision that asks private individuals to file lawsuits seeking “enforcement” of the ban and creates monetary rewards for any member of the public who successfully sues an abortion provider or people who “aid and abet” someone getting an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Because the law was purposefully designed to be enforced by private citizens and lawsuits, it was impossible for advocates to sue the state government officials, the typical defendants in similar federal challenges to unconstitutional abortion bans. Instead, the plaintiffs — represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU — sued every state trial court judge and county court clerk in Texas, plus the attorney general and state medical boards. They are asking a federal judge to prevent any of the states more than 1,000 trial court judges throughout Texas from enforcing the law and to block court clerks from accepting the lawsuits. NCJW will continue to monitor this case closely and applauds our partners and Texas leaders for acting to protect our constitutional rights and access to abortion care.

Civil rights expert nominated to the Second Circuit

On July 14, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Myrna Pérez for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She has argued cutting-edge and complex cases in federal and state courthouses across the country, taught at both Columbia and New York University law schools, testified before Congress and several state legislatures on a variety of voting rights-related issues, and speaks frequently on academic and bar association panels. If confirmed, Perez would be the only Latina on the court and the first since Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. NCJW strongly supports the nomination of Myrna Pérez for a lifetime appointment on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

  • Take Action! Tell your senators to support Myrna Pérez and other qualified, fair, and independent nominees to the federal bench.

Cloture filed in the Senate for Cunningham to a lifetime appointment

On July 12, Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on Tiffany Cunningham’s nomination. Nominated to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, 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 supports the nomination of Tiffany Cunningham for a lifetime seat on the federal bench.

  • Take Action! Contact your senators in support of fair, independent, and qualified nominees supported by NCJW.

Three diverse nominees up for vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to refer the nominations of Eunice Lee 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 out of committee, for consideration by the full Senate. Additionally, Chief Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí, Jr. awaits his first markup in the Senate Judiciary Committee for his nomination to the First 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. As a Puerto Rican jurist, Chief Judge Gelpí would bring a much-needed perspective to the federal judiciary. NCJW supports the confirmations of Eunice Lee, Veronica Rossman, and Chief Judge Gelpí for lifetime appointments to the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals.

  • Take Action! Contact your senators in support of fair, independent, and qualified nominees supported by NCJW.

Voting Rights

Good Trouble: Vigils for Democracy

On July 17, a year after John Lewis’ passing, the Leadership Conference, Transformative Justice Coalition, National Council of Jewish Women, and many more partners are organizing nationwide candlelight vigils for democracy. The Good Trouble: Vigils for Democracy will see people across the country make their voices heard to demand the passage of the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood and to not let the Jim Crow filibuster stand in the way. A flagship vigil is being organized in Washington, DC with echo vigils across the country. Check here to see if there’s a vigil in your area, and if not, consider planning your own!

More News and Updates