Policy Updates

On the Hill Update: December 8, 2017

Budget and Tax

Harmful Tax Plans Move Forward

House and Senate Republican lawmakers are working behind closed doors — without including Democrats — to reconcile the House and Senate-passed tax bills, the most cruel and destructive tax plans in recent memory. Among countless onerous provisions, the Senate plan would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, leaving 13 million individuals uninsured but “saving” the federal government over $300 billion to make corporate tax breaks permanent. The House version would gut the Johnson Amendment by allowing all tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, to endorse candidates — upending the entire charitable sector and turning houses of worship into tools of political campaigns; and would allow 529 educational savings accounts to benefit an “unborn child,” codifying fetal personhood — long a priority of anti-abortion proponents. Both measures include a massive tax cut for the wealthiest and corporations along with an equally massive price tag of at least a trillion dollars. Lawmakers are expected to resolve the differences in the two plans soon, with votes in both the House and Senate, and a final-passed version on the president’s desk for his signature prior to Christmas.

Take Action: Call your lawmakers today! 

Government Shutdown Showdown

On December 7, both the House (235-193) and Senate (81-14) passed a two week spending bill (HJ Res 123) in advance of a government shutdown on December 8 at midnight. The measure  buys time for lawmakers to consider a longer term spending bill as well as year-end issues including funding for DACA recipients, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the opioid crisis, and hurricane and wildfire relief, among many outstanding issues.


Reproductive Health, Rights, & Justice

One week left to enroll in health care!
Don’t miss out! The health care exchange at HealthCare.gov will NEXT Friday, December 15. This year, due to the Trump administration’s effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, open enrollment is much shorter than in the past. This means we have to stay vigilant about getting our uninsured friends, family members, and community registered as soon as possible.

Check out NCJW enrollment resources here. If you need additional resources, please email Carly at carly@ncjwdc.org.


Ten Judicial Nominees Advance to Senate Floor

On December 7, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance the nominations of L. Steven Grasz (nominated to 8th Circuit Court of Appeals), James Ho (5th Circuit), and Don Willett (5th Circuit). The committee also advanced seven district court nominees. The non-partisan American Bar Association (ABA) previously deemed Grasz not qualified” to serve on the federal bench based on an objective assessment of the candidate’s competence, integrity, and temperament. Since 1989 (as far back as the ABA’s online record goes), there have only twice before been unanimous “not qualified” ratings. Neither of those nominees were confirmed. President Trump’s federal judicial nominees are being confirmed to lifetime seats at an alarmingly fast pace; at this stage in his presidency, Trump has had more appellate judges confirmed than any predecessor since Richard Nixon. NCJW opposes the nominations of both Grasz and Willett.


Immigration & Refugees

US Supreme Court Allows Muslim Ban to Take Effect

On December 4, the Supreme Court ruled that President Trump’s latest Muslim Ban could take effect while the case made its way through the lower courts. The ban blocks refugees from eight countries, six of which are majority-Muslim. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on December 6, and the Fourth Circuit on December 8, in the case against the ban. NCJW has joined amicus briefs in both cases.


Gun Violence Prevention

House Passes Concealed Carry

The House of Representatives passed (231-198) HR 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, opposed by NCJW, on December 6th. The bill would override existing state laws and allow dangerous, untrained individuals to carry guns in every state and every city. Included in the measure was a bipartisan fix to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS),  supported by NCJW, that would incentivize reporting of legal and mental health records. Sights now turn to the Senate and their versions of both measures: the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (S 446) and the Fix NICS Act of 2017 (S 2135), where votes are expected later this month.  

Take Action: Call your senators using the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121). Tell them to oppose the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (S 446), which would have deadly consequences, and to support the Fix NICS Act of 2017 (S 2135), which would save lives.

Sample Script: Hi, my name is [X], and I am member of the National Council of Jewish Women from [City, State]. I urge Senator X to oppose federally-mandated concealed carry reciprocity (S446) as it would make our communities less safe. Instead, I urge you to support the Fix NICS Act of 2017 (S 2135), which would save lives by increasing the submission of domestic violence records to NICS.

New DHS Secretary Confirmed

On December 5, the Senate confirmed (62-37) Kristjen Nielsen as the new Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary. Nielsen was most recently an aide to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Sign On Letters

  • On December 4, 375 organizations including NCJW signed on to a letter supporting an amendment that would reinstate a recent rule limiting forced arbitration.
  • On December 5, more than 100 organizations including NCJW joined a letter supporting the Dream Act through the lens of reproductive justice.
  • On December 5, NCJW joined 126 LGBTQ organizations on a letter supporting passage of the Dream Act.
  • On December 5, more than 115 organizations including NCJW signed a letter opposing the Workflex in the 21st Century Act, which would exempt businesses from state and local paid sick day laws.
  • On December 5, NCJW joined almost 100 organizations on a letter supporting the Healthy Families Act, which would create a national paid sick days standard.
  • On December 6, NCJW was one of 111 organizations on a letter to Congress listing legislative priorities such as passing the Dream Act, renewing health programs, and disaster relief.
  • On December 7, 112 organizations including NCJW signed a letter supporting the robust enforcement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provisions regarding significant disproportionality in the identification, placement, and discipline of students with disabilities with regard to race and ethnicity.


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