Communications & Advocacy

On the Hill Updates: January 11, 2019

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

House Democrats pass ACA resolution

The House on January 9 passed a resolution (235-192) affirming their authority to defend the Affordable Care Act in federal court in the wake of the Texas ruling on December 14. Three Republicans joined 232 Democrats to support the measure, part of the Democrats’ strategy to keep the focus on health care heading into 2020. While the House voted on Friday to formally intervene in the resulting lawsuit as part of a larger rules package, Democrats held a vote on the stand-alone resolution to put Republicans on record with their opposition to the 2010 law. NCJW supports access to the full range of reproductive health services and to ensuring access to comprehensive health coverage for all.

Federal Courts

House proposes Code of Conduct for US Supreme Court

HR 1, or the For the People Act, was introduced on January 4 by Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD). Among a myriad of provisions is one that would require the US Supreme Court to adopt a code of ethics, something that has never before been required. Federal district and circuit court judges are subject to a Code of Conduct, but it does not presently apply to Supreme Court justices. In December, a panel of federal judges dismissed 83 ethics complaints lodged against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh due to a lack of code of conduct or disciplinary process governing those who sit on our nation’s highest court.

New leadership in the Senate Judiciary Committee

After Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was officially selected as the new Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 9, he announced via Twitter that “[t]he confirmation of conservative judges will be one of [his] top priorities as Chairman.” The Committee’s former Chair, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), will now serve as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee following former Senator Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) retirement. NCJW will continue to advocate for fair, impartial, and diverse judges whose decisions are not influenced by political ideology.

Civil Rights

Attorney General nomination hearing to begin next week

On January 15 and 16, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of William Barr to be Attorney General of the United States. Barr, who served as Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush, has a history of using religious freedom as a guise for discrimination. Barr also starkly opposes women’s reproductive rights and holds troubling views on immigration, LGBTQ rights, criminal justice, and beyond. NCJW 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!

Gun Violence Prevention

Historic background checks bill introduced in House

On January 8, eight years after the mass shooting in Arizona that killed six people and wounded 13, including former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), the House introduced the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019( HR 8), legislation that would require background checks on all gun sales except those between immediate family members. Gabby Giffords and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) joined longtime gun safety champions Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Peter King (R-NY), and newly elected Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), whose son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed at a gas station in Florida, to announce the broad and historic measure. The companion legislation in the Senate, The Background Check Expansion Act, was introduced by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). According to polling, 85 percent of Americans support background checks on gun sales, including 79 percent of Republicans. NCJW supports background checks which are the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people from buying firearms.

Take Action! Call your Representative through the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121. Urge them to support HR 8, a modest, bipartisan measure that would save lives.

Human Needs

Day 21 of the #TrumpShutdown

As we enter the longest shutdown on record (as of Saturday, January 12), lawmakers and government agencies are scrambling to fund programs and services thanks to the president’s insistence on funding for his border wall. Nearly 800,000 federal employees are currently furloughed or working without pay. Thousands of federal contractors, many of them low-income, may never see the pay they’ve earned. Millions of people are worried about their safety and meeting their families’ basic needs while programs funding crisis shelters have been interrupted and many federal agencies cannot perform important safety inspections and other crucial functions Americans depend upon. However, in a bit of good news, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, our nation’s largest nutrition assistance program, through February. And, because of the shutdown, the government can’t publish the administration’s proposed harmful rule that would circumvent the will of Congress and enforce stricter work requirements for 775,000 SNAP beneficiaries. Additionally, the USDA also announced funding for the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) through the end of February, with key employees removed from furlough.

The House, after passing their measures to reopen the government on January 3, began tackling appropriations bills this week. Thus far, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to put the House-passed spending bills up for a vote — even though these same vehicles have previously passed either the full Senate or its Appropriations Committee by overwhelming margins. NCJW insists the Senate prioritize reopening the government.

Take Action! Call your senators using the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121. Ask them to urge Majority Leader McConnell to hold a vote on the House-passed appropriations bills that would end the shutdown.

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