On the Hill Updates: March 16, 2018
Gun Violence Prevention
Fix NICS Bill Filibuster Proof
The Fix NICS (National Criminal Background Check System) Act of 2017 (S 2135), supported by NCJW, now has 70 cosponsors — enough support to break a filibuster and pass the Senate. The bipartisan legislation would improve key elements of the background check system, particularly domestic violence criminal history and protective order records, enhancing the entry of records essential to the implementation of a robust background check system. A hold on the measure has kept it from being brought to the Senate floor for a vote.
Assault Weapons Ban Gains Support
Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) Assault Weapons Ban of 2017 (S 2095), supported by NCJW, is gaining a foothold as the nation grapples with the myriad of ways to reduce gun violence in this country. S 2095 would amend the federal criminal code to make it a crime to knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon or large capacity ammunition feeding device.
“School Safety” Bill Passes House
On March 14, the House passed (401-10) the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018 (HR 4909), which would provide federal funding for states and districts to invest in anonymous systems for reporting threats of school violence, to coordinate with local law enforcement, and to invest in new infrastructure for school security. While well-intended, these approaches threaten students’ civil rights and would likely harm students of color, students with disabilities, immigrant students, LGBTQ students, and religious minorities — without providing for meaningful improvement to school safety and climate or addressing gun violence in any way. Further, there is no language included to guarantee that accused students will receive fair treatment, equal protection under the law, and a right to due process, among other issues with the bill. Instead, NCJW urges lawmakers to focus on measures that keep our communities safe from gun violence like Fix NICS, the Assault Weapons Ban, and background checks which have blocked more than 3 million sales to prohibited purchasers ince 1994.
DeVos Tapped to Lead School Safety Commission
This week, Education Secretary DeVos was selected to lead a new Federal Commission on School Safety. While ostensibly created to help address gun violence in schools, the Commission will actually focus on repealing an Obama-era regulation that sought to change school discipline rules that disproportionately impact students of color and those with disabilities. Civil rights organizations, including NCJW, are troubled by the Commission’s focus on repealing this rule.
Reproductive Health & Rights
Petition Drive Calling for Scott Lloyd’s Removal
NCJW joined All Above All*, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and many more organizations at the US Department of Health and Human Services to drop almost 300,000 petitions calling for Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Scott Lloyd’s resignation.Though the ORR is legally obligated to provide prompt access to safe medical care for all those within its charge, Lloyd has used his position to shame, bully, and coerce young people instead of offering safe reproductive care and put his anti-abortion agenda above his obligation to young immigrants. NCJW gathered close to 2,000 signatures demanding Scott Lloyd’s removal, and the immediate restoration of access to comprehensive reproductive health care services and information, including abortion, for the thousands of young immigrants in ORR’s care.
Jewish Organizations Call for Stephen Miller’s Removal
Last month, NCJW organized a letter signed by 16 other Jewish organizations to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly urging him to remove Stephen Miller from the White House due to Miller’s extreme views on immigrants and refugees. Stephen Miller is currently a Senior Policy Advisor to President Trump, and is behind the administration’s Muslim and Refugee Bans, anti-immigrant strategy, and other xenophobic policies coming from the administration. Further, his influence over the president blocked his own party from reaching a compromise last month to protect Dreamers. Now NCJW is preparing to launch an interfaith petition calling for Miller’s removal, so keep an eye out for how you can sign the petition and share it with your networks.
Lawmakers are getting closer to ironing out their differences in an effort to pass an FY’18 ominus budget package by March 23, when the current continuing resolution runs out and a two-week congressional recess begins. Not unexpectedly, Republican leaders in the House and Senate are attempting to use the budget process to try to attack women’s health care. NCJW supports a budget that protects low-income people, invests in broadly shared prosperity, increase revenues, and seeks responsible savings from reducing waste in the Pentagon and elsewhere.
#CourtsMatter to Sanctuary Policies
On March 13, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that portions of a Texas law blocking sanctuary policies was constitutional, reversing an earlier decision by a District Court. (Sanctuary policies decouple local law enforcement activity from federal immigration enforcement.) This ruling, hailed by the Justice Department, will strengthen efforts to penalize sanctuary jurisdictions. NCJW supports sanctuary policies and jurisdictions.
Seventh Circuit Nominees to Have Hearing Next Week
Next Wednesday, March 21, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Michael Scudder and Amy J. St. Eve, both nominated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Both nominees are based in Illinois and have the support of committee member Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). The nominees are known to be relatively moderate and are both white. If confirmed, one will replace Ann Williams, an African American, leaving the Seventh Circuit no longer racially diverse. NCJW believes that our courts should reflect the diversity of their communities.
Sign On Letters
- On March 8, NCJW joined 47 organizations on a letter to Members of Congress asking them to increase Childcare and Development Block Grant funding by $5.8 billion over two years.
- On March 8, 573 organizations including NCJW signed a letter opposing proposed changes to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s mission statement.
- On March 9, 43 faith organizations including NCJW joined a statement outlining principles for a faithful farm bill.
- On March 12, NCJW joined 117 organizations on a letter to Congressional appropriators asking for increased funding for the sexual and reproductive health of young people.
- On March 12, 51 organizations including NCJW sent a letter to House Congressional Leadership expressing concerns about HR 4909, the STOP School Violence Act of 2018.
- On March 13, NCJW supported Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban of 20-17, S 2095.
- On March 14, NCJW joined 21 organizations on a letter to Senators McConnell and Schumer urging the Senate to vote on a clean Fix NICS Act of 2017, S 2135.
- On March 15, 61 organizations including NCJW sent letters to the House and Senate opposing turning Impact Aid into a private school voucher program.