Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: May 10, 2019

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Labor-HHS spending bill advances

The House Appropriations Committee on May 8 approved the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies 2020 spending bill on a party-line vote of 30-23. Significantly, the budget contains $50 million for dedicated research to address America’s gun violence crisis, the first time in more than 20 years that the bill has included such funding. Another provision implements a historic funding increase for the Title X program and blocks the Trump administration’s domestic gag rule. Moreover, an amendment from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) prohibits funds from being used to finalize, implement, or enforce another Trump rule that allows health care providers and entities to deny care based on personal or religious beliefs. Finally, the bill would tighten standards for the detention of immigrant children.

Rep. Lee and her colleagues — Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) — also denounced the bill’s inclusion of the Hyde Amendment and reaffirmed their commitment to ending the policy. NCJW thanks these champions for standing up for the right of every patient to make their own faith-informed decision about abortion no matter their income, insurance, or where they live.

CDC: 3 in 5 pregnancy-related deaths are preventable

In a new report published on May 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that sixty percent of all pregnancy-related deaths can be prevented with improved access to and better quality health care, communication, and support. In addition, the agency found that lack of access to stable housing and transportation, delayed and missed diagnoses, and failures to recognize the warning signs of troubling conditions contribute to this country’s status as the “most dangerous place to give birth among developed nations.” What’s more, the report confirmed that African American and Native women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than are white women. NCJW will continue to work to end racial disparities in maternal health and ensure that all have access to comprehensive, affordable, confidential, and equitable family planning, reproductive, sexual health, and maternal health services.

House Rules Committee considers bill to protect patients with pre-existing conditions

On May 7, the House Rules Committee held a hearing to consider HR 986, the Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Act, sponsored by Reps. Ann Kuster (D-NH), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Joe Courtney (D-CT). This legislation would revoke the Trump administration’s Section 1332 guidance, which weakened protections for patients with pre-existing conditions by promoting junk insurance plans that often lack critical health benefits. One of the amendments filed with the committee by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) would disqualify states that do have “born alive protections” from receiving 1332 waivers. NCJW strongly opposes onerous, medically unnecessary “born alive” legislation which puts anti-abortion politics between patients and their doctors and signed a letter denouncing Rep. Scalise’s amendment.

Department of State funding bill ends global gag rule

On May 9, the House State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) Subcommittee released its proposed 2020 spending package. Notably, the bill permanently repeals the global gag rule using language found in the Global HER Act (HR 1055/S 368). The legislation also blocks the use of funding from current and previous fiscal years to implement this harmful policy. NCJW endorses the Global HER Act and its protections for the health, well-being, and economic security of millions worldwide.

  • Take Action! Call the Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) to support the SFOPS spending bill or use NCJW’s action alert to urge your legislators to advance the Global HER Act today.

Federal Courts

Senate confirms 2 more circuit court judges, bringing total under Trump to 39

On May 8, the Senate confirmed Joseph F. Bianco, of New York, to a lifetime appointment to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a 54-42 vote. Bianco was confirmed despite the objections of both of his home state senators, Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). On May 9, the Senate confirmed Michael Park, also of New York, to the same court in a 52-41 vote, again over the very strong objections of the New York senators. Park, 43, is a Federalist Society member with a record of attacking equal opportunity admissions policies, limiting health care access, and undermining the accuracy of the 2020 Census by supporting adding a unnecessary citizenship question. Moreover, during his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Park refused to say that Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark civil rights case that desegregated public schools, was correctly decided. Any one of these aspects of Park’s record should have disqualified him from a lifetime judgeship. NCJW opposed Park’s nomination, and is severely disappointed by the partisan determination on behalf of Senate leadership to stack our courts with nominees who will disregard civil and human rights. The confirmations of Bianco and Park mark the third and fourth time in history, respectively, that the Senate has confirmed a judicial nominee over the objection of both home-state senators. President Trump is now responsible for 22% of all sitting federal circuit court judges.

Meanwhile, back at the Federalist Society…

On May 8, following Bianco’s confirmation (see above), Vice President Pence delivered remarks at the Federalist Society’s Seventh Annual Executive Branch Review Conference at the Mayflower Hotel near the White House. He noted that “[e]arlier today… [the Senate], I’m pleased to report, confirmed another one of President Trump’s nominees to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Joseph Bianco is the 103rd federal judge confirmed to the bench, and he’s a member of the Federalist Society.” Pence also lauded progress of the Federalist Society, noting that “[w]hat began as a small group scattered throughout a few law schools has become a powerful movement grounded in the principles of the American founding, leading the fight for constitutional principles that always made America great before and are making America great again. And I promise you, you have no greater friend in that fight than President Donald Trump.” Click to watch or read the remarks. Pence’s statements underscore the extent to which this administration has outsourced its role in judicial selections to the Federalist Society, and how much the Society is setting the agenda for the administration.  NCJW believes that our federal courts should be fair, independent, and diverse; however, this special interest group has given us scores of far-right, hyper-partisan, unqualified federal judicial nominees.

Senate to vote on extreme nominees next week

On May 9, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed cloture on three federal court nominees, teeing up final confirmation votes for the week of May 13. The Senate will vote on the nominations of Michael Truncale to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Wendy Vitter to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and Kenneth Lee, of California, to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Among other disqualifying attributes, all three of these nominees refused to say at their hearings that Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided. Their votes will take place during the week of Brown’s 65th anniversary. NCJW opposes Truncale, Vitter, and Lee.

  • Take action! To learn more about these biased and unqualified nominees and urge your senators to oppose them, click here.

Circuit court sides with administration, for now

On May 8, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the administration could continue implementing its Remain in Mexico policy until the case is heard and decided by the Northern District of California. The policy forces asylum seekers to stay in Mexico for months or even years until their cases are heard in the US. NCJW opposes ‘Remain in Mexico,’ yet another cruel attempt to block asylum seekers from the US.

Gerrymandering victory in Ohio

On May 3, federal judges in Ohio ruled its 2012 congressional map is an “unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.” The map must be redrawn for the 2020 election. The decision came days after a similar ruling in Michigan. This term the US Supreme Court heard two partisan gerrymandering cases that NCJW is following closely, Lamone v. Benisek (Maryland) and Rucho v. Common Cause (North Carolina).


Harmful anti-immigrant rule in the works

In Fall 2018, the Department of Homeland Security proposed a rule that would make it more difficult for immigrants to get green cards if they used public services, such as Medicaid, food assistance, or housing vouchers. NCJW members across the country mobilized to submit more than 500 comments opposing the rule, which has not yet been released as final.

On May 3, Reuters reported on a draft rule to be issued by the Department of Justice that would make it easier to deport legal permanent residents for accessing a similar list of government benefits. NCJW plans to forcefully oppose this harmful rule should it be formally proposed.  

Sign On Letters

  • On May 6, NCJW joined 76 organizations on a letter organized by Kids in Need of Defense to House and Senate leadership opposing rollbacks to regulations that protect immigrant minors in detention.
  • On May 9, NCJW joined 33 organization on a letter opposing the so-called “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protections Act” and a related amendment to HR 986 offered by Rep. Steve Scalise.

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