On the Hill Updates: February 23, 2018
Gun Violence Prevention
Senate May Consider Gun Related Bills
As the nation reels from another senseless mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Senate is poised to consider two gun related measures as early as Tuesday. The bipartisan Fix Nics Act (S 2135), supported by NCJW, would protect survivors by improving the entry of domestic violence records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Few domestic violence protection order records and equally few domestic violence misdemeanor records are entered into NICS, allowing abusers to easily obtain illegal firearms by erroneously passing a background check. While much more significant change is needed to protect survivors from abusers with firearms, Fix NICS is a positive first step.
In contrast, the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (S 446), opposed by NCJW, would make it easier for abusers to legally carry concealed firearms into other states when stalking their victims. It would undercut existing state and local protections for survivors of domestic and dating violence and replace those protections with a far weaker gun law. Survivors often relocate to other states to escape their abusers, but S 446 would force every state to accept other states’ concealed carry permits, even if the out-of-state permit was issued to domestic abusers who would be prohibited from obtaining such a permit in the travel state.
Take Action! Urge your senators to support the Fix NICS Act (S 2135) and oppose Concealed Carry Reciprocity (S 446) by calling the Capitol Switchboard (#202-224-3121). Don’t forget to call back to speak with your other senator. Let them know you oppose S 446, the Constitutional Concealed Carry Act of 2017, which imposes federally-mandated concealed carry reciprocity on your state and makes it harder for law enforcement to protect survivors of domestic violence. Instead, urge their support for the Fix NICS Act (S 2135) which would save lives by increasing the submission of domestic violence records to NICS.
National Gun Safety Events Planned
NCJW is proudly supporting three national efforts to promote gun safety and end gun violence:
- March 14 School Walk Out, organized by EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, on the one month anniversary of the Parkland shooting. This student led effort is happening at 10am across all time zones for 17 minutes in memory of the 17 students who lost their lives due to senseless gun violence. Students are encouraged to do what works for them (walk to the gym or hallway, write a letter to their principal, etc.).
- March 24 March for Our Lives in Washington, DC and other marches around the country, organized by Everytown for Gun Safety and Americans for Responsible Solutions.
- April 20 School Walk Out, organized by a small group of high school students in Ridgefield, CT with the support of the Women’s March, and planned on the anniversary of Columbine.
Join in any way that you can on these days — wear orange (the color of the gun violence prevention movement), share/like NCJW’s Facebook posts and tweets with your networks, and call your lawmakers’ offices and demand common sense gun violence legislation like Fix NICS and background checks on all gun sales.
Questions? Contact Jody Rabhan (Jody@ncjwdc.org).
Reproductive Health & Rights
Proposed Short Term Health Plans Undermine ACA
On February 20, the Trump Administration proposed a new rule that, if put into effect, will allow insurers to sell short-term health policies that don’t adhere to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and last just under a year. This would create a parallel market for less robust plans that operate alongside the market for comprehensive individual health insurance, exposing consumers to new risks, raising premiums for people seeking comprehensive coverage, and significantly impacting middle-income consumers with pre-existing conditions. Further, the proposed rule change would roll back 2016 regulations defining short-term plans as those lasting less than three months, defining them instead as those lasting less than one year. The rule itself acknowledges that it “may further reduce choices for individuals remaining in the individual market risk pool” by weakening states’ individual markets, and that “consumers who purchase short-term, limited-duration insurance policies and then develop chronic conditions could face financial hardship as a result.” The rule is open for public comment until April 23.
Justice for Jane Doe
Scott Lloyd, Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), is using his position to block young immigrants and refugees from accessing abortion care. The ORR is legally obligated to provide prompt access to safe medical care for all those within its charge. But Lloyd has used his position to shame, bully, and coerce young people instead of offering safe reproductive care. Since taking office, Lloyd has put his anti-abortion agenda above his obligation to young immigrants by:
- prohibiting undocumented minors in federal custody from obtaining abortions;
- instructing subordinates to prevent these minors from meeting with attorneys and from going to court to request abortion access;
- engaging in a lengthy (and ultimately unsuccessful) court battle to stop a teenager from leaving her shelter for an abortion; and
- publicly discussing requiring young immigrant women to undergo a medically-unproven process to “reverse” a medical abortion.
Sign our petition to demand that Scott Lloyd be removed from his position and the Trump Administration immediately restore access to comprehensive reproductive health care services and information, including abortion, for the thousands of young immigrants in ORR’s care.
Immigration & Refugees
What’s Next for Dreamers?
Last week, the Senate failed to reach a compromise to protect Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the US as children. In the wake of that impasse, Sen. Flake (R-AZ) announced plans to introduce a bill next week extending protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for three years. In return, Congress would provide $7.6 billion to fully fund the first three years of the administration’s border-security proposals, including the wall. Similarly, Sens. Portman (R-OH), Moran (R-KS), and Thune (R-SD) floated a proposal that would codify DACA permanently (with no path to citizenship) in return for funding all $25 billion of the President’s border security plan. These proposals will likely come to a head on March 23, the next government funding deadline. NCJW and other immigrant rights organizations are still evaluating Flake’s proposal and strongly oppose Portman’s. Above all other proposals, we support the immediate passage of a clean Dream Act.
“Celebrating” Asian American & Pacific Islander Equal Pay Day
February 22 was Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Equal Pay Day, which marks the additional time in 2018 an AAPI woman has to work to earn the same as a white man in 2017. On average, Asian American women earn just 87 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. But disaggregating the data by ethnicity paints a bleak picture for Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander women; for example, Burmese women earn only 51 cents for every dollar.
Gender-Based and Sexual Violence
International Violence Against Women Measure Introduced
The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA, HR 5034) was reintroduced on February 16 in the House by Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL). The statistics are staggering: an estimated 1 in 3 women will face physical, mental, or sexual abuse in their lifetimes; nearly 39,000 girls under age 18 are married each day; and female genital cutting has impacted more than 200 million women and girls alive today. IVAWA would ensure the permanent role of the Office of Global Women’s Issues in the State Department, guarantee the US has a gender-based violence strategy that puts survivors first, make the eradication of violence against women a central component of US foreign policy agenda, and establish gender-based violence prevention and response in all US humanitarian efforts around the globe. NCJW supports I-VAWA which would update and enhance our nation’s emergency response mechanisms for violence against women and girls abroad.
Get Ready For VAWA 2018 Reauthorization
Legislators in the House and Senate are gearing up for the reauthorization of the Violence AGainst Women Act (VAWA), the landmark law passed in 1994 that has been our nation’s single most effective tool in providing lifesaving programs and services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. Watch this space for more information in the coming weeks about a bipartisan effort to reauthorize this critical law supported by NCJW.
Sign On Letters
- On February 15, NCJW joined nine other Jewish organizations on a letter organized by the Religious Action center for Reform Judaism to Commerce Secretary Ross urging him not add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
- On February 20, NCJW joined 167 other organizations as part of the Campaign Against Assault Weapons on an open letter to Governor Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Senate Judiciary Chairman Greg Steube imploring them to consider legislation that would ban the sale of military-style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in Florida.