Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: June 14, 2019

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Missouri’s last abortion clinic wins temporary reprieve

On June 10, a judge ruled that Missouri’s last abortion clinic can continue providing abortion services until June 21, when the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services must decide whether it will renew the clinic’s license. Missouri is currently one of six states with only one abortion clinic. Should the Department refuse to renew the facility’s license, 1.1 million Missourians will lose access to safe, legal abortion services in their state. NCJW St. Louis section has worked tirelessly to fight this weaponization of the licensure process and the state’s draconian abortion restrictions; watch Vice President of Advocacy Nancy Litz’s powerful remarks at a recent Stop the Bans rally here. NCJW and 24 sections and State Policy Advocates are proud to support these efforts to protect reproductive rights and joined a letter in solidarity with Missouri.

Progressives offer amendment to end Hyde

As the House of Representatives prepared to consider the appropriations “minibus” this week, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and other progressive Democrats offered an amendment to strip language prohibiting federal funds from covering abortions in the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education spending package. Unfortunately, because the amendment authorized new policies requiring federal coverage of abortions in public health programs and protecting coverage by private health insurers, it was deemed out of order and rejected by the Rules Committee. Nevertheless, Pressley vowed to continue the fight to end the Hyde Amendment, noting that progressives “are actively mobilizing and organizing to ensure that every person has access to self-determination and bodily autonomy, regardless of where they live, how much money they make, or their preferred pronouns.” NCJW is committed to the elimination of Hyde, a discriminatory policy pushing care out of reach for low-income people, people of color, young people, immigrants, and LGBTQ individuals.

House committee considers proposals to expand health coverage

On June 12, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on “Pathways to Universal Health Coverage” to discuss Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-WA) Medicare for All (HR 1384) legislation alongside more incremental plans to expand coverage. The hearing marked the first time a committee with jurisdiction over health care policy reviewed the bill, a feat Rep. Jayapal touted as a signed of the proposal’s growing popularity. Indeed, in his opening statement, Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) expressed congressional Democrats’ unified support for the “shared, core belief that all Americans should have health coverage and receive care that isn’t a financial burden.” NCJW works to ensure all patients have access to affordable and equitable health care and joined a letter supporting the inclusion of comprehensive coverage for reproductive care in all reform proposals.

Federal Courts

Senate continues to advance dangerous judicial nominees at a rapid clip

This week alone, the Senate voted to confirm nine judicial nominees — seven to lifetime seats on federal district courts, and two to 15 year terms on the US Court of Federal Claims. Among those confirmed were Richard Hertling and Thomas Barber, who refused to acknowledge that Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided. Next week, the Senate will vote on the nominations of several unfit and biased nominees, including Matthew Kacsmaryk to the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Kacsmaryk is extremely anti-women and anti-LGBTQ; he once referred to being transgender as a “delusion.” NCJW opposes his nomination.  

  • Take action! Click here to learn more about Kacsmaryk and get a script and phone numbers to call your senators!

Unconscionable refusals rule faces more legal challenges

On June 11, two lawsuits filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York challenged the Trump administatration’s refusals of care rule, arguing that enforcement would encourage discrimination against women, LGBTQ patients, the uninsured, low-income people, and other marginalized communities. The plaintiffs in these suits — Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Inc.; the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association; and Public Health Solutions, Inc. — join other advocates and two dozen states and municipalities in asking the court to block implementation and to declare the regulation unconstitutional. The rule would allow any individual or entity involved in a patient’s care to use their personal beliefs to dictate that patient’s access to health services. In the absence of an injunction, the rule will take effect in July. NCJW forcefully opposes this unconscionable regulation as an affront to the Jewish traditions of pursuing justice for all, ensuring fair treatment for all, and safeguarding individual religious liberty.

Civil Rights

Census battle looms large

The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted (24-15) on June 12 to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to testify on the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The vote followed President Trump’s invocation of executive privilege rather than provide the critical documents, and sets up a possible vote on the House floor in the coming weeks. NCJW opposes adding a citizenship question to the census, which studies show will result in an undercounting of Latinx and immigrant communities.

Human Needs

House considers appropriations “minibus”

On June 12, the House of Representatives began consideration of a package of appropriations bills, known as a “minibus.” Debates and votes on a series of 47 amendments lasted into the early morning of June 13 and continued in the afternoon before the House adjourned for the weekend; consideration will resume on Tuesday, June 18. The appropriations bills would fund Defense (HR 2968), Labor-Health and Human Services-Education (HR 2740), Energy-Water (HR 2960), State-Foreign Operations (HR 2839), and the Legislative Branch (HR 2779). Notably, the proposals include the following provisions:

  • State-Foreign Operations
  • Labor-Health and Human Services-Education
    • A historic funding increase for the Title X program;
    • Language blocking implementation of the Trump administration’s domestic gag rule;
    • An amendment prohibiting funds from being used to finalize the Trump administration’s refusals rule;
    • Language tightening standards for the detention of immigrant children;
    • $50 million for dedicated gun violence prevention research; and
    • The Hyde Amendment.


Amendment to DHS appropriations bills defunds discriminatory policies

On June 11, an amendment to the FY 2020 Homeland Security Funding bill preventing federal funds from being used for many of the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants and asylum seekers was adopted by the House Appropriations Committee. The amendment, brought forward by Rep. David Price (D-NC), defunds all iterations of the Muslim Ban, the public charge proposed rule, enforcement actions against DACA and TPS recipients, Migrant Protection Protocols, and more. In proposing this measure, Rep. Price hoped to take “a significant step in reversing some of the Administration’s cruelest immigration policies while protecting tens of thousands of individuals who are pursuing the American Dream.” NCJW strongly opposes these discriminatory policies and supports restoring the many immigrant rights and protections revoked by the Trump administration.

Graham’s harmful asylum bill to be marked up next week

On June 11, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) Secure and Protect Act of 2019 (S 1494). Among many harmful provisions, S 1494 would:

  • Undermine the Flores settlement, allowing detention of unaccompanied children for up to 100 days;
  • Prioritize their removal on the immigration court docket and bar their release during removal proceedings;
  • Expand bars to asylum, including criminal bars, to those with prior removal orders, or to nationals or residents of countries that have refugee application/processing centers; and
  • Establish refugee application/processing centers (including in Mexico and in 3 other centers in Central America).

NCJW opposes S 1494 — expected to be marked up next week — as it would prolong the detention of young children and ignore their legal rights, and does nothing to address the southern border.


  • On June 11, NCJW and 24 sections and State Policy Advocates joined over 100 organizations on a letter in solidarity with Missourians and people across the country whose health and rights are threatened by state abortion restrictions.
  • On June 11, NCJW and 38 other organizations sent a letter to Rep. Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, supporting amendments to the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that would ensure that non-active duty servicemembers and military dependents have access to copay-free birth control; ensure access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault; and improve family planning education for servicemembers.
  • On June 12, NCJW joined 33 other organizations on a letter to House Ways and Means Committee leadership expressing that any universal health coverage proposal, in order to truly meet the health care needs of all, must include comprehensive coverage for reproductive care.

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