Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: May 18, 2018


Unfit to judge

On the 64th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s unanimous Brown v. Board decision that led to the desegregation of public schools (at least on paper), the Senate Judiciary Committee was expected to vote on Wendy Vitter for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana — a nominee who refused to answer during her hearing if this landmark case was correctly decided. Senators’ statements and debate filled the time allotted for the meeting, and the vote has been delayed until next week. This is a victory! Your work to raise concerns about Vitter, including her remarks on Brown, are working and now there is more time to take action. NCJW opposes this extremist, anti-reproductive rights nominee and calls on the Senate to withdraw her nomination.

Take Action! Email or Call your senators today — particularly if they sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee — using the Capitol Switchboard (#202-224-3121). Let them know Wendy Vitter has a long record of extreme hostility to reproductive freedom, and urge them to withdraw her nomination.

SCOTUS cases left 

The Supreme Court finished hearing arguments at the end of April, with the remainder of the 2017-2018 term devoted to issuing decisions. There are still a number of outstanding cases NCJW is following closely that are yet to be decided: Trump v. Hawaii (Muslim Ban); Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (LGBTQ rights and religious liberty); Janus v. AFSME (union fees); Gill v. Whitford & Benisek v. Lamone (redistricting);
Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute (voter roll purges); and National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA (forced arbitration). Keep an eye on NCJW Facebook and Twitter for breaking news.


Gun Violence Prevention

#WearOrange on June 1

Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore in her honor when she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 — just one week after performing at President Obama’s 2nd inaugural parade in 2013. After her death, they asked us to speak out and #wearorange to raise awareness about gun violence. Click here for a toolkit, and here to learn more about what’s happening in your community throughout #wearorange weekend (June 1-3).



Republican infighting over discharge petition

Last week, lawmakers in the House of Representatives filed a discharge petition to bring legislation to the floor that would then allow for a series of votes on immigration proposals. A discharge petition allows legislation to skip the committee process and move directly to the floor for a vote if it is signed by a majority of House members. As of May 17, 20 Republicans signed the petition over the express urging of the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI). If all Democrats sign the petition then only 25 Republican votes are needed for it to bring the bill to the floor. In the meantime, negotiations over the Farm Bill (HR 2) have led to a planned vote on an anti-immigrant bill that NCJW opposes.


Civil Rights

Bureau of Prisons changes rules for transgender inmates

On May 11, the Bureau of Prisons changed its Transgender Offender Manual to direct officials to use “biological sex” when determining where transgender inmates should be housed (in terms of sex-segregated facilities). The new manual reverses an Obama-era policy that directed officials to use gender identity when making these determinations. The Bureau of Prisons will now also decide what type of medical gender transition services prisoners can receive. NCJW opposes this dangerous policy that places the safety of transgender individuals at even higher risk.


Economic Justice

A win on the farm bill…for now!

Thanks to all of your hard work, today the House failed to pass the Republican farm bill (HR 2,198-213), opposed by NCJW, which would have cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — our nation’s largest nutrition assistance program — serving millions. However, the House may consider the legislation once again as soon as Tuesday, May 22. Republican leadership will be working over the weekend to secure the votes needed to pass HR 2 this time around.

Take Action! Email or call your representative (Capitol Switchboard #202-224-3121) today! Let them know that cutting $20 billion from the SNAP food program would devastate critical nutrition services, which support 40 million individuals each year ― mostly children, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities — and urge them to reject cuts to food stamps. And, don’t forget to thank them if they voted no on HR 2!

Sign On Letters

  • On May 14, NCJW joined letters to the House and Senate opposing the Protect and Serve Act (HR 5698), which would add law enforcement as a protected category under federal hate crime law.
  • On May 15, NCJW joined over 300 groups on a letter to health leaders of the Congressional Tri-Caucus in support for the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2018 (HEAA).
  • On May 15, more than 50 faith organizations including NCJW joined a letter organized by Mazon opposing the Farm Bill (HR 2), which includes severe cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • On May 17, NCJW joined 74 organizations on a letter organized by Public Citizen urging Congress to oppose any appropriations measures which include ideological poison pill riders and the budget rescission package put forth by the administration.

Related Resources