Policy Updates

On the Hill Updates: October 2, 2020

Federal Courts

Unqualified nominee for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench

Kathryn Kimball Mizelle was nominated to the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida and is awaiting a vote in Senate Judiciary Committee. Her nomination was scheduled for a vote on October 1 but, due to lack of quorum on the part of Republican members, has been moved to October 8. Mizelle has spent a total of four years in practice and has experience in only two trial cases, neither at the senior level. Mizelle has deep ties to the nation’s most conservative legal voices, in addition to being a long-time member of the Federalist Society, an ultraconservative legal society. Moreover, the American Bar Association found Mizelle to be “Not Qualified” for a lifetime appointment, directly citing her lack of meaningful experience. NCJW believes Mizelle lacks the proper experience required for a lifetime appointment and strongly opposes her nomination.

Anti-abortion nominee for a lifetime appointment

Toby Crouse, nominated to the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, is currently awaiting a vote by the full Senate. Since 2018, Crouse has served as Kansas Solicitor General and proved to be a highly partisan opponent of many important rights — reproductive, voting, and workers, among others. On behalf of the state of Kansas, he urged the Supreme Court to review a case defunding Planned Parenthood, a case that the Tenth Circuit disagreed with and the Supreme Court declined to hear. Crouse also joined amicus briefs in several other anti-reproductive health care cases. In private practice, Crouse defended the infamous Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in a case challenging his redistricting plan. Later, as Solicitor General, Crouse supported other restrictive voting laws. He joined amicus briefs in anti-immigration, anti-worker, anti-gun safety, and other cases challenging basic rights. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on September 30, and the full Senate will vote next week. NCJW opposes the nomination of Toby Crouse given his extreme views on issues impacting women, children, and families.

Economic Justice

Native Women’s equal pay day

October 1 was Native Women’s Equal Pay Day, which marks the day that Native Women’s wages catch up to those of their white, male counterparts from the previous year. Native women earn approximately $0.60 cents on the dollar of White, non-Hispanic men (based on 2019 data), which adds up to a loss of $1,035,360 over the course of their careers. NCJW supports pay equity legislation to close the gender and racial wage gap.

Human Needs

House passes new COVID-relief response

The new House COVID package scales back their HEROES Act from $3.4 trillion to $2.2 trillion but contains some important elements: food, housing, and income assistance to tens of millions of struggling households; state and local fiscal relief; and strong public health response. In addition to including stronger provisions for unemployment insurance and child care, the package would also boost SNAP maximum benefits by 15 percent and increase the SNAP minimum monthly benefit from $16 to $30, secure substantial new rental assistance for low-income households, increase funding for safe elections, and ensure the census continues through October 31. The obstacles to White House and Senate Republican support remain the same: they want a smaller package and liability protection for businesses. On October 1, the House passed the bill almost entirely on party lines, and will now leave town to allow members time to campaign before the November election.

Continuing Resolution signed into law

The Senate voted (84-10) to avert a government shutdown on September 30 — just hours before the deadline to fund the government. The House passed (359-57) the measure on September 22. The short-term spending bill, HR 8337, ensures government funding at current levels through December 11. The president signed it shortly after midnight, setting up future negotiations on a budget in the lame duck Congress following the November election.

Immigration and Refugees

Refugee program slashed, again

This week, the administration announced its intent to cap refugee resettlement at a new historic low of 15,000, down from the then-historic low of 18,000 last year (of which only approximately 9,700 refugees were actually resettled). Under the Trump administration, the refugee resettlement program has been repeatedly undermined and attacked. NCJW urges the administration to immediately commit to welcoming refugees into America in 2021.

Wolf’s nomination to lead DHS advances

This week, Chad Wolf’s nomination to serve as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) passed out of the Senate Homeland Security Committee along party lines. Wolf has been serving in the role for nearly a year but, given President Trump’s stated preference for agency leaders serving in acting capacities, was only nominated to the post recently. Wolf’s tenure at DHS has been marked by controversy, most recently the allegation that women at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Georgia received gynecological care they did not need and to which they did not consent. NCJW opposes this nomination.

Related Resources