On the Hill Updates

On the Hill Updates: Wednesday, June 8, 2021

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Women’s Health Protection Act reintroduced

On June 8, the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) was reintroduced by Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX) alongside Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Over the last decade, states have enacted nearly 500 laws restricting access to reproductive health care by regulating clinics, mandating waiting periods and unnecessary counseling and procedures, or even banning abortion outright. WHPA would protect equal access to abortion nationwide, guaranteeing providers the right to deliver — and people the right to receive — this essential health care without political interference. NCJW is thrilled that we added 26 original cosponsors to this critical legislation as a result of our first-ever Jewish Clergy for Repro Virtual Lobby Day. We support WHPA to ensure that all are free to make their own decisions about their lives, their bodies, and their futures.


Supreme Court rules against some TPS holders

This week, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to immigrants in the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) when it ruled in Sanchez v. Mayorkas that immigrants who entered the US illegally but later received TPS are not eligible to apply for green cards. (TPS allows immigrants from countries facing war or natural disaster to live and work in the United States.) The ruling, which was unanimous and authored by Justice Kagan, underscores the need for Congress to provide permanent relief — a path to citizenship — to TPS holders.

California’s assault weapons ban weakened

On June 5, the US District Court for the Southern District of California overturned California’s assault weapons ban, ruling it unconstitutional. At the request of the state’s attorney general, the judge stayed his decision for 30 days so the case could be appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. NCJW is shocked by the decision overturning a decades-old law and the first assault weapons ban in the nation, passed after a gunman killed five children and wounded 30 students and teachers at a California elementary school.

Exemplary Nominee for Lifetime Appointment

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a markup for Tiffany Cunningham to the United States Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit on June 10. 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, in addition to holding both a BS in Chemical Engineering and a law degree. Her confirmation would bring a critical perspective as a trained engineer to a court that deals with issues of technology, science, and medicine. NCJW supports Tiffany Cunningham for the Federal Circuit.

Senate Considering Nominations of Judge Jackson and Jackson-Akiwumi

On May 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the nominations of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Courts of Appeals for the DC Circuit (13-9) and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi to the US Courts of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (12-10). The Senate is expected to vote on both nominees in the coming week, and cloture on Judge Jackson’s nomination was filed on June 8. Judge Jackson has a history of supporting reproductive health care, civil rights, disability rights, and labor rights and Jackson-Akiwumi has spent the majority of her career as a public defender. NCJW supports Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, who have demonstrated deep commitments to protecting civil rights and ensuring equal access to justice throughout their careers.

Senate Judiciary Hearing for Two Public Defenders to Lifetime Appointments

On May 12, President Biden released his third slate of nominees, which included Eunice C. Lee to the United State Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Veronica S. 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. If confirmed, Lee would be the only judge on the Second Circuit with experience as a public defender, and only the second Black woman to ever serve on the court. Rossman has been a proponent of humane sentencing during the COVID-19 pandemic and brings a critical perspective to the federal bench as an immigrant whose family fled Russia in her early childhood due to antisemitic persecution. Both nominees will have their hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 9. NCJW supports the nominations of Eunice C. Lee and Veronica S. Rossman, both of whom meet our criteria of being fair, independent, and qualified.


For the People Act moving this month

This week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced his intent to bring the For the People Act (S1) to the floor for a vote at the end of June. This transformational bill would strengthen and restore voting rights and 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 House passed the For the People Act in March.

Additional Updates

Department of Justice takes action on gun violence prevention

The Department of Justice announced two steps on June 7 to address the epidemic of gun violence: 1) a notice of proposed rulemaking to make clear that when individuals use accessories to convert pistols into short-barreled rifles, they must comply with the heightened regulations on those dangerous and easily concealable weapons, and 2) model legislation to help states craft their own “extreme risk protection order” or red flag laws. Comments will be welcome for 90 days once the rule is published in the Federal Register.

Paycheck Fairness Act fails to advance in Senate

On June 8, the Senate failed to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act (HR 7) when not a single Republican senator agreed to consider the bill. The legislation, passed by the House in April, would deter wage discrimination by updating and strengthening the 1963 Equal Pay Act. Overall, women earn only 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, and the gap is much wider for women of color (Black women earn 63 cents, Indigenous women earn 60 cents, Latinas earn 55 cents, and some Asian American and Pacific Islander women earn only 52 cents). NCJW sent a letter to the Senate urging them to pass this critical legislation.

  • Take action! Check how your senators voted here. Then, call you senators at (202) 224-​3121 to thank those who voted to advance the bill, or express your extreme disappointment to those who did not. Want to go further? Follow-up your call with an email urging the Senate to pass this critical legislation.

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