Policy Updates

On the Hill: January 18, 2019

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

House Democrats vow to fight Trump administration’s anti-women agenda

For over 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has blocked usage of federal funds for abortion coverage in all but the most extreme circumstances. Now, House Democrats have vowed to repeal this restrictive ban leveraging their new majority to provide affordable coverage for safe, legal abortion to the millions of women enrolled in Medicaid, Medicare, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other federal health programs. Members of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus — including co-chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who plans to re-introduce the EACH Woman Act — will also target proposals blocking Title X family planning funds from abortion providers and the Global Gag Rule. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) pledged that the group would “use every legislative and oversight tool in our power to investigate the Trump administration’s attacks on women and show the American people that instead of attacking women and families, we will invest [in] and expand health care.” Watch footage from the press conference detailing the Caucus’s prioritieshereNCJW opposes the Hyde Amendment and similar abortion bans.

Federal Courts

Legal victory protects contraceptive coverage

On January 14, a federal judge in Pennsylvania temporarily blocked two final rules on religious and moral exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit that could leave millions of women without access to birth control. The nationwide injunction — issued on the same day the new policy was to take effect and less than 24 hours after a more limited stay from a California judge — puts the implementation of the rules on hold while legal challenges move through the courts. If the rules were enforced, US District Judge Wendy Beetlestone noted, states would suffer “‘significant, direct and proprietary harm’ in the form of increased use of state-funded contraceptive services as well as increased costs associated with unintended pregnancies.” The judge also held that broader exemptions for birth control are not required under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and deemed this strict policy “inconsistent with the . . . text” of the ACA. comment opposing these discriminatory rules and applauds the decision to protect contraceptive access and the important public health progress made under the ACA.

Judge rules Trump administration cannot ask about citizenship in 2020 census

On January 15, a federal district court judge in New York ruled that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross committed “a veritable smorgasbord” of violations of federal procedural law when he added a question inquiring about citizenship to the 2020 census. The court stopped short of ruling that the citizenship question was intended to discriminate against noncitizens and minorities but noted that if the US Supreme Court had not shielded Ross from providing testimony, then it might have reached a different result. The case is likely to make its way to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and, ultimately, the US Supreme Court. The case is yet another reminder of the importance of fair, qualified, and impartial judgeswho respect the rule of law.NCJW opposes adding a citizenship question to the census as it would suppress response rates in communities of color, ultimately impacting the allocation of government resources and political representation for these communities.

Kavanaugh’s proposed replacement has a history of offensive writings

President Trump nominated Neomi Rao, an ultra-conservative “deregulatory czar” who currently serves as administrator of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), to fill the seat on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals vacated by now-Justice Kavanaugh. On January 14, several of op-eds Roa wrote while in college were published and many contained insensitive remarks related to race, LGBT rights, sexual assault survivors. Rao has never served as a judge, making her writings singularly instructive and important. Rao was recently added to the short list of potential Supreme Court nominees that the White House distastefully updated after Justice Ginsburg missed one day of oral arguments. NCJW opposes Rao’s nomination.

Civil Rights

At hearing, Barr fails to show he would promote justice as Attorney General

On January 15 and 16, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the nomination of William P. Barr to be the next Attorney General of the United States. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee, announced that she would not vote to advance Barr’s nomination without a commitment from him to release the special counsel report regarding President Trump. If confirmed, Barr would take over for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Read more about Barr’s record hereNCJW opposes Barr’s nomination. Click here to read our letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • TAKE ACTION! Click here for more information and a sample script to call your senators!

Economic Justice

Bill to raise the minimum wage introduced

On January 16, the Raise the Wage Act, cosponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), was introduced in the House and Senate. The bill would raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024, and end provisions that allow companies to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage. NCJW endorses this important legislation.

Human Needs

Hundreds of thousands impacted by Trump’s shutdown

Trump’s government shutdown over his border wall is the longest continuous closing of government in US history, surpassing the 21-day record that was set during the December 1995 shutdown that extended into January 1996. Most of the nearly 800,000 federal workers — eighty percent of whom live outside of the DC area, and nearly one-third of whom are veterans — are no longer receiving paychecks. Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and families can be particularly cash-strapped after the holiday season. In addition to the 800,000 federal workers, there are thousands of other workers employed by federal contractors, often on an hourly basis, as janitors, security guards, food service workers, and in other roles, who may never receive back pay. Native American tribes have been particularly harmed by Trump’s shutdown, facing limited access to food, health services, and law enforcement services. Because federal road maintenance has stopped, many residents of the Navajo Nation have been immobilized by snowfall, unable to reach the necessary resources 20 to 50 miles away.

The wall is unnecessary and wasteful, and the president is deliberately sowing fear about our nation’s southern border as the harm of the shutdown grows. The vast majority of families with children or children alone who seek asylum in the United States are fleeing dangerous conditions in their home countries. Between April 19 and September 30, 2018, investigations of adults and children crossing the border found that they were indeed related family members; only one-quarter of one percent were not. The House-passed measures to re-open the government are in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) hands, but he refuses to schedule a vote.

  • TAKE ACTION! Call your senators (Capitol Switchboard #202-224-3121) and demand that Senator McConnell schedule a vote to reopen the government!

Sign on Letters

  • On January 4, NCJW joined more than 50 national organizations on a letter organized by Public Citizens to New York Governor Cuomo urging him to pass election reform legislation.
  • On January 8, more than 150 groups led by the National Immigrant Justice Center submitted a public comment for the record opposing Trump’s proposed rule limiting asylum.
  • On January 9, 12 faith groups including NCJW sent a letter to members of Congress calling for democratic reform.
  • On January 10, NCJW joined 247 organizations led by the American Association of University Women on a letter to the House of Representatives supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act.
  • On January 10, 119 organizations including NCJW sent a letter organized by the Leadership Conference to the Departments of Education and Justice expressing strong opposition to the rescission of January 8, 2014, joint school discipline guidance package, which helped promote and protect students’ civil rights.
  • On January 14, NCJW and nearly 30 other reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations sent a letter organized by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America urging Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to oppose the nomination of William Barr to serve as United States Attorney General.
  • On January 16, 362 organizations including NCJW sent a statement in support of the Raise the Wage Act of 2017.
  • On January 16, 63 organizations including NCJW signed on to the Women’s Community Legislative Agenda sent to members of Congress.
  • On January 17, 280 organizations including NCJW signed on to letters sent to Congress and the President detailing the harmful health impacts of the prolonged government shutdown.


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