On the Hill Updates: May 24, 2019
Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
Women’s Health Protection Act reintroduced
On May 23, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) reintroduced the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA, HR 2975/S 1645). WHPA combats the wave of dracocian state abortion restrictions sweeping our nation (see Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri) by creating a new tool for safeguarding access to high-quality care and securing constitutional rights. Specifically, the bill would guarantee providers an affirmative statutory right to deliver abortion services without limitations that 1) are more burdensome than those imposed on medically comparable procedures; 2) do not significantly advance patient health or the safety of abortion; or 3) make abortion more difficult to access. Importantly, the bill also establishes a new test for courts to apply when considering whether a requirement impedes access to abortion services in violation of WHPA. NCJW is proud to be part of the Act for Women coalition supporting WHPA and works to ensure that every single person has equal access to the full range of reproductive health services without delays, judgment, or misinformation.
Committee advancing bill ending global gag rule
On May 16, the House Appropriations committee approved the 2020 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) funding bill on a vote of 29 to 23. Lawmakers rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Andy Harris (D-MD) that would have the stripped language of the Global HER Act (HR 1055/S 368) from the spending package. As such, the bill retains a provision permanently ending the global gag rule. 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 funding bill or use NCJW’s action alert to urge your legislators to advance the Global HER Act today.
States sue to block refusals of care rule
On May 21, two dozen states and municipalities joined San Francisco in suing the federal government to block the Trump administration’s recently finalized refusals rule (scheduled to take effect in July). The regulation would allow any individual or entity involved in a patient’s care — their doctor, the hospital board, or even the person scheduling the appointment — to use their personal beliefs to dictate that patient’s access to health services. Lawsuits in New York and California now argue that the rule is unconstitutional and was passed in an arbitrary and capricious manner without considering its impact on patients. NCJW vehemently opposes this regulation as an affront to the Jewish traditions of pursuing justice for all, ensuring fair treatment for all, and safeguarding individual religious liberty.
Landmark Equality Act passes House
On May 17, The Equality Act (HR 5) passed the House of Representatives, 236-173. This important bill would ensure that people nationwide understand that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people violates federal law by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of identities protected under the Civil Rights Act. The bill would also expand protections for women in public accommodations and federal funding, two areas not currently covered by existing federal civil rights law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has announced he will not bring up the bill in the Senate.
- Take action! Tell your senator to urge Sen. McConnell to let the Senate vote on this bill!
Gun Violence Prevention
Appropriations bill includes gun safety funding
The House Appropriations Committee approved the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 funding bill on May 22, which contains $1.44 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the agency tasked with enforcing America’s firearms laws and regulating the gun industry. This is a 9.3% increase — an additional $122 million — above FY 2019. Importantly, the committee report also directs ATF to release comprehensive statistical data on gun trafficking — it has been nearly two decades since data was collected. On June 7, National Gun Violence Awareness Day, join NCJW to wear orange in support of gun violence prevention. Learn more about the day, and gun violence prevention efforts going on in your community during that weekend, here.
Dream and Promise Act passes committee
The Dream and Promise Act (HR 6) was marked up by the House Judiciary Committee on May 22 as two separate bills — the Dream Act and the American Promise Act. Though there were attempts to add harmful amendments to these bills, they were voted down, and the bills ultimately passed as written 19-10 and 20-9, respectively. The bills will be joined back together as HR 6 before a floor vote, which could happen as early as June 5. NCJW urges Congress to pass this landmark path to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders, and Deferred Enforced Departure recipients.
- Take Action! Tell Congress to pass HR 6.
Six children have died in US immigrant detention
On May 22, the administration admitted a 10 year old child died in US custody in September 2018. This brings the total to six, including two in the past two week. NCJW calls on Congress to hold the Department of Homeland Security accountable and investigate these tragedies. On May 23, NCJW and other faith organizations held an interfaith vigil to mourn these children. Watch the vigil here.
Sign On Letters
On May 21, NCJW was one of more than 400 organizations on a letter urging Congress to pass permanent protections for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders.