This week saw continued firsts for the Biden-Harris administration: the first time a woman vice president and woman Speaker of the House joined the president for his address to a joint session of Congress; the first Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on President Biden’s first federal judicial nominees (the most diverse nominees of any president); and the first presidential plan focused on women and children — The American Families Plan — which alongside the American Jobs Plan lays out a bold vision for an economy that works for all of us.
Thanks to all of you — your calls, emails, lobby visits — NCJW achieved nine of our top ten priorities within the first 100 days!
Of course, the work continues beyond the president’s first 100 days! Going forward, we have two ways for you to stay up to date and continue to take action:
1. Time-sensitive updates on our legislative priorities will be found on ncjw.org/news. We’ll have regular and ongoing updates throughout the week, so no need to sift through your inboxes or wait for an email — you can learn more about our issues any time you want.
2. NCJW’s Action Alert emails will be coming your way! Look out for a digest of top priority actions and why your voice is needed!
What is it?
The American Families Plan, along with the American Jobs Plan, are once in a generation opportunities to rebuild our economy in a way that centers those most harmed by both the COVID-19 pandemic and our nation’s structural inequalities — women, and in particular, women of color. Many NCJW priorities are reflected in the plans, including paid family and medical leave, expanded nutrition assistance, tax credits to lower health insurance premiums, investments in child care and education, and extending the expanded child tax credit (CTC).
While the plan is a bold effort to build back an economy that works for all of us, the $1.8 trillion package has some gaps we will ask Congress to fill, including making the extended child tax credit permanent; implementing policies guaranteeing access to and facilitating enrollment in affordable and comprehensive health coverage; and a path to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and essential workers
How does it relate to our past work?
Throughout our history, NCJW has advocated for policies that enable women, children, and families to thrive. Many of these policies, including paid family and medical leave and enhanced nutrition assistance, are in this proposal. Further, NCJW has advocated for federal legislation addressing the health and economic emergencies impacting the country and particularly women of color, since the start of the pandemic. Together with our network of advocates, NCJW has successfully helped inform and pass previous relief bills, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, CARES Act, HEROES Act, and the American Rescue Plan.
What can I do now?
The president’s plan is just the first step. Now the ball is in Congress’ court to turn this vision into legislation. Take Action! Contact your elected officials now to ensure that legislation inclusive of our priorities is introduced and passed as soon as possible!
- Ensuring Coverage for Abortion Care: On April 9, President Joe Biden released his summary budget. This document made no mention of the Hyde Amendment, a budget provision prohibiting federal insurance plans and programs from covering abortion care. The announcement of the president’s total budget is anticipated for late May or early June. Based on previous promises to end Hyde and to support sexual and reproductive health and rights, we do not expect to see abortion coverage restrictions in this document either.In the meantime, Congress can still take action to end this racist and discriminatory policy. Led by women of color and their allies, the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act (HR 2234/S 1021) would mandate coverage of all pregnancy-related care, including abortion, in federal health plans and programs and prohibit political interference in private insurance coverage of abortions.Take Action! Urge your lawmakers to support the EACH Act today to ensure that abortion care is there for all of us — however much we earn, wherever we live, and whoever we are.
- DC Statehood: On April 22, the House of Representatives passed HR 51. The bill, which would grant statehood and voting representation in Congress to the District of Columbia, now heads to the Senate.Take action! Tell your senators to support the Senate version of the bill, S 51.
- Hate Crimes: The Senate passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (S 937), which included an NCJW priority bill, the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act, as an amendment on April 22. The NO HATE Act would improve hate crimes reporting and expand assistance and resources for victims of hate crimes. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would direct the Department of Justice to expedite the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19 and increase resources available to communities impacted by pandemic-related hate crimes. It’s time for the House to take up this or a similar bill.Take action! Tell your representative to support the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act as passed by the Senate or similar legislation.
- Judicial Nominations: President Biden released the names of three additional federal court nominees this week: David Estudillo for the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington; Tana Lin for the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington; and Christine O’Hearn for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. And, on April 28, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a joint hearing on the nominations of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. It has been 10 years since the Senate confirmed a Black woman to serve on a federal appellate court.Take Action! Urge your senators to support the confirmations of Ketanji Brown Jackson and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi!
- Transgender Rights and Equality: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) withdrew a Trump-era proposed rule that would have allowed federally funded emergency shelters and other facilities to exclude transgender people and others based on gender identity. The Trump proposal was designed to roll back critical protections found in HUD’s 2016 Equal Access Rule, which ensured access to shelters based on a person’s self-expressed gender identity. NCJW submitted comments strongly urging HUD to withdraw Trump’s proposal and is committed to ending bullying and discrimination against LGBTQ people and opposing attempts to use “religious liberty” laws as a smokescreen for discrimination.