Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: August 2, 2019

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice 

Comment period of health care discrimination rule ends 8/13 

On May 24, the Trump administration announced that it would roll back critical nondiscrimination protections found in Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The proposed rule eliminates gender identity and termination of pregnancy from prohibitions against discrimination “on the basis of sex,” essentially encouraging health care providers and entities to refuse care to transgender patients and to those who have had an abortion. Significantly, the proposal ignores the moral principle that all deserve equal access to health care, tramples individual religious liberty, and will have serious negative implications for the health of women and LGBTQ individuals. You can use the language in this paragraph to submit a comment opposing the proposed rule here or wait for NCJW’s action alert on August 6, which will contain additional language explaining our opposition to the rule. NCJW works to secure equal rights and opportunities for all people and to eliminate all forms of discrimination; the Trump administration’s coordinated and sustained attacks women’s health, youth health, immigrant health, LGBTQ health, the health of communities of color, and the health of those struggling to make ends meet will not stand. 

Federal Courts 

Senate confirms 13 lifetime judicial nominees in 2 days 

On July 30 and 31, the Senate confirmed 13 individuals nominated by President Trump to serve lifetime appointments on federal district courts. Nine of the 13 nominees confirmed refused to acknowledge, when asked at their confirmation hearings, whether the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided. This rapid pace of confirmations would not have been possible prior to Senate Republicans unilaterally changing Senate rules to decrease the amount of debate time per judicial nominee by over 90 percent. NCJW is sincerely disappointed in the Senate’s complicity in McConnell’s power grab, which is part of his plan to remake our courts in the image of President Trump and will affect our rights for generations to come. Read NCJW’s full statement here 

SCOTUS gives Trump wall victory 

On July 26, the US Supreme Court lifted a lower court’s prohibition on President Trump’s plan to move billions of dollars in unspent military funds to build the wall on the US southern border. Related lawsuits are still moving through the lower courts, so it’s possible that funds could be blocked based on the merits of those casesNCJW opposes building an unnecessary, expensive, and ineffectual wall at the southern border. 

Human Needs  

Senate sends budget deal to president 

On August 1, the Senate voted to pass (67-28) the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (HR 3877), which would suspend the federal debt limit through July 31, 2021, and increase discretionary spending caps by about $320 billion over two years. And, HR 3877 would avert the final two years of automatic discretionary spending cuts under the 2011 Budget Control Act. The House passed HR 3877 last week prior to leaving for recess. The president signed the measure into law on August 2. 

The increased caps would pave the way for fiscal 2020 spending bills, though there aren’t many days for lawmakers to complete action on all 12 measures before midnight on September 30 to avoid a government shutdown after they return from recess. It’s likely Congress will need to pass a short-term measure known as a continuing resolution (or CR) extending current funding for at least some government agencies before this deadline. The House passed 10 of its 12 appropriations measures for next year, while the Senate hasn’t begun work on any of its 12 spending bills, instead focusing almost exclusively on confirming Trump’s judicial nominees. NCJW opposes the Hyde Amendment, included in the House-passed Labor-HHS bill, which withholds coverage of abortion from those enrolled in federal health plans or programs except in extreme circumstances, and impedes reproductive justice as all should be free to make their own decisions about their body, sexuality, and future.  


AG sets anti-asylum precedent 

This week, Attorney General William Barr issued a precedent-setting decision in an immigration case (Matter of L-E-A-) blocking migrants from claiming asylum based on their family relations. US law states that asylum seekers must prove that they face persecution in their home countries based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Barr’s decision was that families cannot be considered a particular social group. This decision will harm asylum seekers already waiting at the US border, kept out by the administration’s “metering” policy, which allows only small number of migrants (or sometimes zero migrants) to cross the border and claim asylum each day. (Note: the immigration courts are under the purview of the Department of Justice, not the federal court system.) NCJW opposes this latest attack on asylum seekers. 

Syria TPS extended but not redesignated 

On August 1, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from Syria, but not redesignate the country. Extension allows current TPS holders to re-register for TPS and continue to hold temporary legal status. The failure to redesignate means Syrians who arrived in the US more recently cannot apply for this protection. NCJW is glad that some Syrians will remain protected, but condemns the decision not to redesignate. 

Take action during August Recess 

Our government’s treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers, including children, is deplorable. Families and individuals seeking better lives are packed into holding cells, cages, and tents. They lack food, water, and medical care, are denied soap and toothpaste, and report harassment and abuse. Nevertheless, Congress continues to fund those responsible for creating these conditions in the first place and the administration crows over their “success” at deterring people from our border.  

Congress is on recess during August, meaning that lawmakers are in their home states and districts. It’s the perfect time to take action to #CloseTheCamps 

Here’s how to take action: 

  1. Rally with NCJW, T’ruah, and other Jewish partners on Tisha B’Av to #CloseTheCamps. Plan a protest in front of a detention facility or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office. 
  1. Plan an in-district visit with your lawmakers. Tell your elected officials to reduce funding for immigration enforcement and close the camps. 
  1. Publish an LTE or Op-EdEngage the media, your community, and Members of Congress by sharing your thoughts in your local or national paper. 


  • On July 31, 154 organizations including NCJW joined a letter to the Senate opposing S. 1494, the Secure and Protect Act of 2019. 
  • On August 1, NCJW joined 33 organizations on a faith letter urging Congress to divest from detention and deportation and invest in human needs instead. 

Related Resources