Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
Though the health insurance exchange marketplace is open until December 15 — one more week — enrollment is still down by about 11 percent compared to last year. In the first five weeks of this year’s sign up period, about 3.2 million people have signed up for plans through the Affordable Care Act(ACA) health insurance marketplace, compared to the 3.6 million who had signed up by this point last year. The drop can be attributed to the Trump administration’s funding cuts for advertising and outreach, elimination of the individual mandate penalty, and expansion of short-term plans that don’t comply with ACA requirements.
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The Senate Judiciary Committee once again postponed voting on the nominations of six circuit and fifteen district court nominees. Among these nominees were Allison Rushing (4th Circuit), Eric Miller (9th Circuit), Chad Readler (6th Circuit), and Eric Murphy (6th Circuit), all of whom NCJW opposes. The committee votes were further postponed because of Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) refusal to advance any judicial nominees unless and until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) schedules a vote on the bipartisan bill protecting special counsel Robert Mueller. Because Republicans have only one more member on the Senate Judiciary Committee than Democrats, Flake’s position makes it impossible for the Committee to advance any judicial nominees, assuming that all senators vote along party lines.
Congress passed a two-week stopgap spending bill that would delay a government shutdown through December 21 as lawmakers negotiate with president on funding his border wall. Both chambers passed the measure on December 6, and Trump has indicated he’ll sign the bill before the current shutdown deadline of midnight today — December 7 — but has said he’s willing to shutdown the government if he doesn’t get his desired funding. According to Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Democrats won’t provide any more than $1.6 billion for border security. Negotiations were delayed by memorial services this week for former President George H.W. Bush. Importantly, NCJW is pleased the short term continuing resolution includes continued funding for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Immigration and Refugees
Asylum fee in the works?
The Trump administration is considering charging a $50 fee to apply for asylum. This fee would not apply to those who claim a fear of persecution at ports of entry or those who apply for the protections while in deportation proceedings. Immigration advocates, including NCJW, oppose this and similar changes that make it more difficult for individuals seeking asylum in the US.
Sign On Letters
- On November 29, 51 groups including NCJW joined a letter organized by the ACLU asking Congress to deny border wall funding to the Department of Homeland Security until it submits a Congressionally-mandated report on border security that was due in September.
- On December 3, NCJW joined more than 80 organizations on a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General requesting an investigation into the department’s decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudan, Nicaragua, Nepal, Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras.
- On December 6, 512 national and local organizations including NCJW joined a statement organized by the Sierra Club opposing the border wall.