On the Hill Updates: September 20, 2019

Federal Courts

Credible allegations against Kavanaugh underscore need for investigation

On September 14, a report from the New York Times revealed that the FBI ignored dozens of credible witnesses willing to corroborate the sexual assault allegations against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process last fall. The report also revealed a similar yet separate allegation against Kavanaugh; a credible witness notified senators and the FBI about the alleged act, but it was never investigated nor made known to the public. In September of 2018, NCJW called for an investigation into these serious allegations. Now, for the sake of our courts, institutions, and democracy, it is vital that the allegations against Justice Kavanaugh are thoroughly and properly investigated.

Take action! Sign NCJW’s petition urging the House to investigate Kavanaugh. And join NCJW in person on October 6 at the Rally to #ReclaimTheCourt, 12:30 pm ET, Columbus Circle, Washington, DC.

Voter Engagement

DC statehood hearing

On September 19, the House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing on HR 51, a bill that would make the District of Columbia a state. It was the first DC statehood hearing in 26 years. NCJW supports statehood for DC.

Gun Violence Prevention

Senate Democrats hold Senate floor to talk about gun violence

On September 17, 22 Senate Democrats led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) held the Senate floor for five hours to highlight the devastation of gun violence and urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to consider gun safety measures passed by the House. Despite this, as well as efforts by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to revive their previous and more limited 2013 Manchin-Toomey background check bill, the Senate has yet to act. Attorney General William Barr has been working behind the scenes with Manchin and Toomey, with no clear indication of Republican leadership or White House support.

Take Action! Continue to urge your senators to cosponsor S 42 to expand background checks. With more and bipartisan support, there will be enough senators to ensure its passage! And join NCJW in person or virtually on September 25 at the National Rally to #EndGunViolence, 1 pm ET, US Capitol Building West Lawn.

Human Needs

Proposed rule aims to cut nutrition assistance for millions

On July 23, the Trump administration posted a notice for proposed rulemaking through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to “revise” Categorical Eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — the most recent attack on the nation’s largest anti-hunger program. This triggered a 60-day comment period which ends on September 23. By their own estimate, the USDA believes the proposed rule change would result in 3.1 million people losing critically-needed SNAP benefits, including free school meals for half a million children. NCJW submitted a comment opposing the proposed rule limiting access to SNAP, which currently serves more than 40 million Americans.

Take Action! Submit your comment by 11:59 pm on September 23.

Budget negotiations: never a dull moment

Lawmakers reached a deal on September 19 on a stopgap spending bill (HR 4378) known as a Continuing Resolution (CR) to avert a government shutdown at midnight on September 30. The short-term measure would keep the government open through November 21 while the House and Senate work out details for $1.3 trillion in spending for FY ’20 under a budget deal reached in July by Congress and President Trump. As of this writing, the House is expected to vote on September 19, with the Senate to follow suit next week. Extensions of several programs are included such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) as well as funds for the Census Bureau to carry out 2020 census operations, among other critical government programs.

The House passed 10 of its 12 funding bills, while the Senate failed (51-44) on September 18 to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to debate a four-bill spending package (HR 2740). Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) had once again planned to offer an amendment to the HHS-Labor-Education appropriations bill that would block the Trump administration’s Title X rule prohibiting federal funds for health care providers who offer information about abortion. Notably, on September 19, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to advance a FY2020 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) spending bill including a provision blocking the District of Columbia’s government from using locally-raised funds to cover abortion care that was previously removed from the House version of the bill. NCJW believes federal budgets represent our nation’s priorities, and as such, they must reflect our moral commitment to protect low-income people, invest in broadly shared prosperity, increase revenues, and seek responsible savings.


Refugee admissions target coming soon

By the end of September, the Trump administration will release the number of refugees it plans to admit to the US in the coming fiscal year. This number, called the “presidential determination” or PD, was the lowest in history at 35,000 last year and is expected to be even lower this year. By law, administration officials are required to “consult” with members of Congress on certain committees about the PD. However, these meetings did not happen last year and that trend looks likely to continue. It’s also worth noting that while the administration said it would settle 35,000 refugees this year, they are on target to accept only 28,670. White House Advisor Stephen Miller is acknowledged to be behind the continued dismantling of the US refugee resettlement program.

Take Action! Call your elected officials and tell them you support refugee resettlement.

Related Resources