Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: May 22, 2020

HEROES Act passes House

On May 15, the House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) Act (HR 6800) by a vote of 208-199. Republicans offered a Motion to Recommit (a procedural tactic to sink the bill) that opposed cash payments to immigrants and mixed-status families, which failed by a vote of 209-198. The bill is a massive response package directing more than $3 trillion to state and local governments, health systems, and a wide range of progressive initiatives (see last week’s Capitol Hill Updates for more information about the bill). The nearly 2,000-page bill has little chance of becoming law due to opposition from the Republican-led Senate. Still, it includes many of NCJW’s priorities to protect women, children, and families during these challenging times.

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Historic Senate introduction of HEAL Act

On May 20, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act for the very first time in the US Senate. Under current law, immigrants with status as lawful permanent residents wait up to five years before participating in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). What’s more, undocumented immigrants cannot purchase insurance on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) exchanges and accessing premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Without the affordable coverage offered through these programs, obtaining health care is not a reality for many immigrant women and families. The HEAL Act — which was reintroduced in the House in October 2019 by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Deb Haaland (D-NM) and has reached more than 50 cosponsors — would remove these onerous legal barriers and restore access to affordable insurance coverage for all immigrants. NCJW is proud to endorse this bill alongside more than 250 organizations and to support the right of every person to live a healthy life.

Federal Courts

Senate Judiciary Committee continues consideration of anti-health care circuit court nominees amid pandemic

On May 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Cory Wilson of Mississippi to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which includes Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Among many other disqualifying characteristics, Wilson is vocal about his disdain for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and his wish to invalidate it, which would eliminate protections for 130 million people with preexisting conditions and take away health insurance from 19 million Americans. At the hearing, Wilson refused to recuse himself if an ACA-related case were to come before the Fifth Circuit.

On May 6, the Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Justin Walker of Kentucky to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Walker was nominated for the appeals court exactly three weeks after being sworn in as a district court judge, and the seat for which he is nominated will not be vacant until September 2020. Walker, a long-time friend of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has repeatedly praised Justice Brett Kavanaugh, for whom he once served as a law clerk for his criticism of the ACA and attempted to dismantle it. The Committee will hold a markup and vote on both of these nominations in early June. NCJW strongly opposes the nominations of Wilson and Walker, both of whom would doubtlessly roll back access to vital health care if given a chance.

  • Take Action! Click here to learn much more and urge your senators to reject Walker.

Voter Engagement

#VoteSafe Digital Lobby Day a success

On May 20, NCJW and AEPhi, along with 29 cosponsors, hosted the #VoteSafe Digital Lobby Day. The program kicked off with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and ended with former White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett encouraging our advocacy. Watch recordings of the opening and closing programs for the full experience! During the day, NCJW leaders held 14 lobby visits in nine different states. And nearly 800 people participated from 38 states, representing 51 NCJW sections and action teams along with national advocates and partners.

  • Missed the #VoteSafe Digital Day of Action? Send an alert to your elected officials urging them to fund safe elections.
  • Go further and advocate in your state! Reach out to your state legislators and set up a virtual lobby visit, call their offices, or speak out on social media – or, do all three!
  • If you took part on May 20, fill out this evaluation so we can measure our impact and improve future advocacy efforts.

Economic Justice 

Moms Equal Pay Day is June 4

Thursday, June 4, will be Moms Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day that shows how far into the year all US moms must work to earn what all US dads earn on average each year. As COVID-19 continues to dominate headlines, economic inequities are being revealed and exacerbated, and women are disproportionately impacted. The pandemic is highlighting the consistent undervaluing of women’s work, with women performing essential work as grocery store cashiers and physicians caring for COVID-19 patients are only being paid about 65% of what their male counterparts are being paid. Mothers already experience a motherhood penalty, bringing home 70 cents for every dollar paid to men on average. Pay discrimination, and the wealth gap has put many people in a position where they are unable to weather this storm. Now, more than ever, we need the critical legislative change that we’ve long advocated to ensure economic security for women and families, including the promotion of policies to bring about pay equity. NCJW supports securing equal pay for women.

  • Take Action! Click here to tell the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Mass digital mobilization on June 20

NCJW is proud to sponsor once again the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (PPC) summer mobilization. PPC is a movement that aims to shift the moral narrative, impact policies and elections at every level of government, and build lasting power for poor people. If your religious observance allows, sign up to join the Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March at 10:00 AM ET on Saturday, June 20, to highlight the crisis of poverty in America and the impact of COVID-19.

#WearOrange on June 5

NCJW is once again proud to be a part of #WearOrange on June 5, a national day of virtual action calling for a future free from gun violence. 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 stand up, speak out, and Wear Orange to raise awareness about gun violence. Learn more about what’s happening virtually in your community here.

Sign-On Letters

  • On May 14, NCJW joined 115 organizations on a letter organized by the Leadership Conference calling on the Department of Justice to open a full and thorough hate crime investigation into the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

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