Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: January 25, 2019

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Anti-abortion bill fails in Senate

Each year, federal lawmakers aiming to restrict reproductive rights mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade by voting on a burdensome and discriminatory bill. On January 17, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) advanced S 109, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Full Disclosure Act of 2019, ahead of the annual March for Life anti-abortion rally. The measure would have made the Hyde Amendment — a budget rider blocking federal funds from being used for abortion coverage — permanent and imposed burdensome regulations disincentivizing private insurers from providing abortion coverage. The 48-47 vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to open floor debate, effectively dooming the bill. NCJW supports the EACH Woman Act, which would end the Hyde Amendment, and joined a letter urging senators to oppose S 109.

Federal Courts

Dozens of judicial nominations returned to Senate for consideration this Congress

On January 23, President Trump renominated fifty judicial nominees that were not confirmed during the 115th Congress. The list includes numerous partisan operatives promoting harmful ideological agendas, several of whom NCJW opposes.

  • Read more about these nominees and learn how you can take action here.
  • To learn more about how federal courts have continued to shape reproductive rights in the 46 years since Roe v. Wade, register for our webinar on Monday, January 28 from 2-3 pm EST featuring Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

SCOTUS permits transgender military ban, takes up guns, and ignores DACA

On January 22, the US Supreme Court issued several orders, including one permitting the Trump Administration’s cruel ban on transgender people in the military to take effect pending litigation in the lower courts. The decision was 5-4. The justices also agreed to review a challenge to New York City’s restrictions on the transportation of licensed handguns, in a case that may not be heard until next term. The Court declined, however, to review the Trump Administration’s plan to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, meaning that the policy remains in effect for now. Click here to read about the other Supreme Court cases that NCJW is following this term.

Administration asks SCOTUS to take up census case

On January 15, a federal district court judge in New York blocked the administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. This week the administration asked the US Supreme Court to weigh in this term, skipping the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. The census questionnaire must be finalized by June 2019. NCJW opposes asking about citizenship on the census.

Civil Rights

Attorney General nomination proceeds

On January 29, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold its initial “mark up” and vote on the nomination of William P. Barr to be the next Attorney General of the United States, though the committee is not expected to actually vote on the nomination until February 7. If a majority of senators on the committee vote in favor of Barr’s nomination, it will proceed to the full senate floor for a vote that will likely be held the week of February 11. Read more about Barr’s record here. NCJW opposes Barr’s nomination.

  • Take Action! Click here for more information and a sample script to call your senators.

Religious Freedom

Administration grants license to discriminate

On January 23, the Department of Health and Human Services granted a waiver allowing a South Carolina adoption and foster care agency, which receives federal funding, to discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation. Miracle Hill Ministries had requested a waiver to the Obama-era exemption in early 2018. The agency only hires Christians, and asks prospective foster and adoptive parents to submit a personal testimony of faith. In October, The Forward reported on a Jewish couple denied placement through the agency. NCJW opposes taxpayer funded religious discrimination.  

Human Needs

Shutdown day #35

The shutdown continued this week, as federal workers missed their second paychecks. On January 24, the Senate voted on two competing bills to reopen the government: a three-week continuing resolution with no additional wall funding, and Trump’s funding proposal that would pour billions of dollars into border militarization. The short-term funding bill passed the Senate in December, but a month later it failed 52-44. Trump’s bill also failed, 51-47. Both votes required 60 to succeed. Also on January 24, House Democrats released a plan that would include at least $5 billion for “border security,” to be considered after the government reopens. NCJW opposes Trump’s punitive funding bill and urges Congress to reopen the government as soon as possible.
In good news, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was reauthorized through the end of June by both the House and Senate and was sent to the president for his signature.


Bill would end Muslim Ban

On January 16, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced the Freedom of Religion Act (HR 590), which would prohibit religious discrimination in the immigration system. The bill is designed to end the president’s Muslim Ban, currently in place. NCJW endorsed this legislation.

Gender-Based and Sexual Violence

DeVos’ proposed rule to weaken Title IX

On November 29, Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed a rule to weaken protections for student survivors of sexual assault and harassment by changing Title IX from a law that protects women, girls, and LGBTQ students from sex discrimination into a law that protects schools that permit and enable sex discrimination. Under the proposed rule, schools would be allowed — and in many cases required — to ignore most students who report sexual harassment and disregard the needs of survivors. Further, the rule would change the definition of sexual harassment and narrow the scope of responsibility so that colleges and universities have less obligation to investigate. If adopted, the rule would have the force of law. NCJW submitted a comment opposing this rule which would have a devastating and chilling effect on all who experience sexual harassment and assault.
Take Action! Speak out for survivors before January 30 by submitting a comment on the proposed rule!

Sign on Letters

  • On January 16, NCJW joined 18 faith groups on a letter organized by NETWORK Catholic Lobby to Congress supporting the Raise the Wage Act.
  • On January 16, NCJW joined 70 reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations on a letter organized by All* Above All urging Senators to oppose S 109, a bill to make the Hyde Amendment permanent.
  • On January 23, Public Citizen sent a letter signed by NCJW and 77 other organizations to Sen. McConnell urging him to re-open the government by signing a three-week continuing resolution.
  • On January 23, NCJW joined more than 100 organizations on a letter coordinated by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) urging the Senate to reject funding additional billions of dollars for border militarization.
  • On January 24, NCJW and nearly 30 other organizations sent a letter to Sen. Duckworth thanking her for introducing a Resolution expressing support for the designation of a “Women’s Health Research Day.”

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