Category archives: Government

This Year, It Is More Important Than Ever to Celebrate Our Independence

by Damon Sidur

July 6, 2021

Independence Day has been celebrated in our nation for nearly 250 years, but this year’s celebration should feel different from years past. While many are hopeful about a post-pandemic future, we should think about how many of us saw our liberties seriously challenged by the government over the past year.

Like in Nevada, where the U.S. Supreme Court denied Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley’s request to strike down the state’s unconstitutional 50-person cap on church services in July 2020. Nevada enforced this cap on houses of worship even as it allowed casinos and other types of businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity. Justice Gorsuch said in his dissent of the Nevada ruling, “The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesar’s Palace over Calvary Chapel.”

Thankfully, the courts have more recently begun siding with churches that were unfairly singled out by state and local mandates. In November 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the state of New York could not unfairly target and restrict church gatherings. While these positive court rulings should inspire hope for the future of religious liberty in America, the jurisprudence and the actions taken by government authorities throughout this past year should still be on our minds as we celebrate America’s independence.

We should consider how much of our freedom we are willing to give away in exchange for the government’s promise of protection. Benjamin Franklin’s answer to that question was: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” This pandemic provided an opening for state and local governments to challenge our freedoms—most significantly our freedom of worship and assembly—in unprecedented ways. In California, churches were asked to submit to stringent restrictions that stated, “Places of worship must, therefore, discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower.” Although the government does have a role during these times, as the Supreme Court stated in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Andrew Cuomo, “Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”

Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote in 1998, “It is neither desirable nor is it remotely likely that civil liberty will occupy as favored a position in wartime as it does in peacetime…the laws will thus not be silent in time of war, but they will speak with a somewhat different voice.” However, the entire point of natural rights is that they are universal and objective. Violating them does not become any more justifiable in times of crisis.

When the pandemic began, Americans were initially encouraged to quarantine for two weeks to slow the spread. Most churches and businesses voluntarily closed their doors and accepted what they believed would be a temporary shutdown. Instead, even once houses of worship could safely reopen with COVID precautions in place, churches spent much of last year appealing to courts for relief from unequal treatment and unconstitutional restrictions on worship. Thankfully, the courts eventually sided with churches and agreed that First Amendment protections cannot be violated in the name of public health and safety, nor can churches be treated more severely than secular businesses.

Independence Day should be more than a day off from work to set off fireworks and eat apple pie. This year, in particular, should be a day of reflection for all of us as we acknowledge and give thanks for the blessing of living in the greatest and freest country in the world. If we want it to stay that way, we must take a stand in the face of fear and protect the rights granted to us by God, fought for in 1776, enshrined in our Bill of Rights, and through our history, finally fulfilled for all Americans.

Damon Sidur is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

FRC On the Hill (May 10-14)

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Mary Beth Waddell, J.D.

May 18, 2021

Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring activity in Congress that affects life, family, and religious freedom and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the most important Hill items FRC worked on this week.

Health and Human Services Secretary Denies His Duty to Enforce Pro-life Laws

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) fiscal year 2022 budget. HHS has the largest budget of any federal agency.

When Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) questioned Secretary Becerra about enforcing the federal partial-birth abortion ban, Becerra acted like he didn’t know what a partial-birth abortion is, claiming that it is not a medical term. Representative John Joyce (R-Pa.) followed up with a forceful line of questioning. He read the clear language and definition of the federal partial-birth abortion ban that was signed into law by President Bush in 2003, which prohibits physicians from committing the barbaric practice of partially delivering an unborn child before ending their life. Once again, Becerra denied the law’s existence, instead citing his duty to enforce federal laws and statutes that protect a woman’s right to an abortion. After several more attempts to get Becerra to acknowledge the federal law and his duty to enforce it, Rep. Joyce concluded, “As a physician myself, Mr. Secretary, I clearly understand what a partial-birth abortion is.”

The outright denial of the partial-birth abortion ban’s existence by the very person responsible for enforcing federal health laws is deeply concerning. Especially since President Biden, the man who appointed Becerra to his cabinet, voted in support of the partial-birth abortion ban at least six times during his tenure as a senator from Delaware. Secretary Becerra’s comments at this week’s hearing reflect his opposition to the partial-birth abortion ban in 2003, when he was a congressman. It is evident that he prioritizes his abortion ideology over his duty as a public servant to enforce the law.

For more information on Becerra, see the following FRC resources:

House Passes Bill to Provide Abortion Accommodations Without Religious Employer Protections

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed in 1978 to protect pregnant women from being discriminated against in the workplace. However, pregnant women are still not always receiving appropriate and adequate accommodations. In an effort to make the workplace more accommodating to pregnant women, the House passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 1065) by a vote of 315-101. Although the basis for this bill is very pro-family, it does contain some concerning language.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act includes accommodations for pregnancy and related medical conditions. Over the years, courts have interpreted “related medical conditions” to include abortion. Therefore, where this bill creates accommodations for pregnant women, it also creates a mandate to provide accommodations for abortion. This mandate could prove problematic for pro-life or religious employers who have a moral objection to abortion and do not want to provide benefits that pay for abortions. When Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho) offered an amendment to the bill that would include a reference to already existing protections for religious employers, Democrats wholly rejected the amendment because it would cause many members and outside groups to withdraw their support for the bill. The question still stands as to why Democrats or other groups would reject a pregnancy accommodation bill if religious employers were afforded existing protections in law. In addition, many of the major pro-abortion groups, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, are active supporters of this bill.

This bill will now move over to the Senate for consideration. FRC will continue urging senators to include additional protections or clarification to ensure this bill will not be used against employers with a moral objection to abortion.

Senate Rules Committee Stalls the Corrupt Politicians Act

The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held a mark-up on the For the People Act (S. 1), otherwise known as the Corrupt Politicians Act. The committee spent over nine hours debating and voting on a multitude of amendments to the bill. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) offered an amendment that would have removed the unconstitutional religious test for individuals who would serve on redistricting commissions. FRC has voiced concerns with this particular portion of the bill and was pleased to see Sen. Cruz offer this amendment. Moreover, we were pleased to see the amendment pass by voice vote.  

Several other significant problems in the bill were not addressed; therefore, FRC remains opposed to the bill. Ultimately, the committee failed to report the bill to the floor for a vote. While this is good news, Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) may still bring it to the floor on his own prerogative. We remain vigilant and continue to watch the bill’s movement and engage the Hill with our concerns.

Other Notable Items FRC Tracked this Week

  • The Senate confirmed Andrea Palm as a deputy secretary of HHS and Cindy Marten to be a deputy secretary of the Department of Education. Both are known to have an anti-life and anti-family record.
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), alongside members of the Senate Small Business Committee, sent a letter to the Small Business Administration to inquire about the investigations into Planned Parenthood continuing to receive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans against congressional intent. This letter came after two additional Planned Parenthood locations had received PPP loans.
  • In a departure from precedent, HHS announced that it will be interpreting and enforcing the sex nondiscrimination provisions of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to include sexual orientation and gender identity, prioritizing ideology above patient care.

Biden’s 100 Days of Failing Women

by Mary Beth Waddell, J.D.

May 4, 2021

Last week, during his address to a joint session of Congress and the nation, President Joe Biden acknowledged the historic nature of a female vice president and speaker of the House of Representatives sitting on the dais, and said, “we need to ensure greater equity and opportunity for women.” Unfortunately, he has done exactly the opposite in his first 100 days in office by making good on his promise to push gender identity ideology—which seeks to erase the vitally important genetic and physiological differences between men and women.

Last June, in Bostock v. Clayton County, the U.S. Supreme Court radically re-wrote Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by holding that sexual orientation and gender identity are included in the statute’s prohibition of sex discrimination in matters of employment. Sex non-discrimination laws are meant to protect biological women, and the Court’s insertion of gender identity ideology flips the law’s intent on its head. On his first day in office, President Biden signed an executive order requiring that the Bostock re-definition be adopted across the federal government.

In this order, President Biden specifically mentioned Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which provides equality for women in sports. He also signed another executive order that effectively undid the previous administration’s good work in the education space, further entrenching the LGBT agenda into schools and obliterating women’s sports and private spaces.

The previous administration had responded to Bostock by issuing a memo that affirmed biology and equality in regard to Title IX—the Department of Education (ED) under Biden has since archived that memo. The Department of Justice issued a memo on Bostock’s application to Title IX, indicating that it did apply. Further, ED has withdrawn the previous administration’s letter of findings against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and its member schools regarding its violation of Title IX for allowing biological boys to compete in sports designated for biological girls.

Additionally, President Biden has used the phrase “all genders” in various memoranda and proclamations. One of the most egregious references is contained in the proclamation for American Heart Month. The president said that heart disease affects “all genders” and merely acknowledged that “the symptoms of a heart attack can be different for men and women.” He didn’t acknowledge the importance and need for further sex-specific study. The world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital notes that it has only been in recent non-male-focused studies that this differential has become more known. Johns Hopkins has its own Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center that provides education, comprehensive treatment, and diagnostic services to prevent and manage heart disease in women. A National Institute of Health listed study from 2010 entitled “Gender differences in coronary heart disease” concluded that, “A greater awareness of the differences in presentation […] between men and women, with gender-based interpretation of diagnostic tests, is mandatory […] to improve therapeutic strategies and outcomes in women.”

This necessity extends across the medical field. Medicine must be based in science and the patient’s physiological makeup, yet President Biden’s actions have made it clear that he disagrees. He nominated Xavier Becerra as secretary of Health and Human Services despite his having no relevant experience. His only credentials are being radically anti-life and anti-faith and advocating for radical sexuality ideology. For assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, Biden nominated Rachel Levin, who severely failed to properly handle the COVID-19 pandemic while serving as Pennsylvania’s secretary of health. Levine has an alarming record of prioritizing the radical sexuality agenda over public health and advocates gender transition for children, which is extremely harmful. Sadly, young girls are a particular target of this agenda.

Furthermore, legislation that the president has supported in both official statements and his joint session speech are detrimental to women. He called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, a massive bill that would overhaul our federal civil rights framework to, among other things, mandate acceptance of gender identity ideology, leaving women and others to suffer the consequences. If enacted, the bill would go much further than allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports, thereby unfairly penalizing female athletes. It would also obliterate women’s private spaces like bathrooms, locker rooms, and battered women’s shelters. This would be especially devastating for battered women who need a safe and private space to heal because biological men would be allowed to enter their shelters.

President Biden also called for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and made official statements praising H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2021. VAWA was indeed enacted in 1994 to improve the criminal justice response to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking and increase the availability of victim services. Unfortunately, the 2021 reauthorization bill would undermine VAWA’s purpose by further traumatizing battered women by allowing biological men into shelters designated for women. It would also reduce resources for battered women, given its mandated acceptance of gender identity ideology, which creates onerous burdens and litigation. The 2021 reauthorization would also allow organizations known to cover up abuse and sex trafficking to access VAWA grant funds. Lastly, it would put incarcerated women at risk of abuse by allowing biological males, sex offenders included, into women’s prisons if they say they identify as a woman.

While all of this looks bleak for women’s rights, privacy, and safety, fortunately, there is hope. Little traction exists for the Equality Act, and there is both federal and state legislation to protect women in various areas like sports, shelters, and medicine to hopefully stop the administration’s harmful agenda. This fight is just beginning. We will have to see how it plays out over the next four years.

When It Comes to Federal Abortion Funding, Biden Is the All-Time King

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

April 28, 2021

President Biden has allowed more taxpayer funding to be used for abortions or by abortion businesses then any president before him in their first 100 days. So far, FRC has tracked down almost $480 billion under the Biden administration that can be used to subsidize abortion and abortion businesses. It is unlikely that all of this funding will in fact be used to fund abortion. However, these funds expressly exclude existing prohibitions on abortion funding, allowing what could be for the first time in decades direct taxpayer funding for elective abortions.

Since 1973 when Congress passed the Helms Amendment (the first congressional prohibition on taxpayer funds which specifically prohibits foreign assistance funds from paying for abortion overseas), there has been a longstanding bipartisan agreement that the federal government should not subsidize the practice of abortion. In the 48 years since then, the federal government has taken further actions to directly prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion and health plans that cover elective abortion domestically and abroad.

The first breach of this longstanding consensus was the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. The ACA was the largest breach of this consensus as it directly bypasses current restrictions on abortion funding. But even President Obama, who also repealed the Mexico City Policy and subsidized employer health plans that cover abortion as a response to the 2008 recession, did not subsidize the abortion industry to this degree this soon into his presidency.

President Obama did repeal President Bush’s Mexico City policy, which prohibits family planning funds from going to international organizations that commit abortions during his first months in office. However, the expanded version of the Mexico City Policy put in place by President Trump which Biden repealed on January 28 covered nearly $8 billion in global health funds, which freed up a far greater amount of funding for international abortion businesses then Obama did in 2009.

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 response package that President Biden signed on March 11 is where the vast majority of the funds for abortion and abortion businesses comes from. And in that package, Biden not only expanded upon President Obama’s policies that subsidize abortion but went to far greater lengths to include program funding that lacks any substantive prohibitions on abortion funding.

President Obama signed a stimulus package early in his first term that would cover 65 percent of Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) health plans for the newly unemployed to remain on their employer sponsored health plans, many of which cover elective abortions. This subsidy was extended into May 2010, so the overall costs were not determined, but initial cost estimates came in at $24.7 billion. Biden likewise approved a COBRA health subsidy as part of his COVID relief package, but his subsidy went further to cover the full 100 percent of COBRA health plans, which was estimated to cost $35.095 billion.

Obama cemented his legacy with his signature health care victory in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This law created permanent subsidies for health plans that cover abortion, to the tune of $13 billion in 2020. While the ACA was signed into law on March 23, 2010, it was not fully implemented until 2014—well into Obama’s second term. Biden, however, took early advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to dramatically expand these tax subsidies that fund ACA plans that cover abortion. These expanded ACA subsidies are estimated to cost $45.624 billion.

The largest source of Biden’s funding that can be used for abortions is the $350 billion in funds for state and local governments to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, without a single reference to prohibiting the use for abortion or abortion businesses. While the funds must be used under the general requirement of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has already been made clear by the abortion industry that they are treating abortion as both a health and economic response to the pandemic. In 2019, New York City created its own abortion fund with local dollars, and now with billions being sent out to states with minimal guardrails, many other cities and states could follow suit—all on the backs of federal taxpayers. We may never know how much of these state bailouts go to line the pockets of the abortion industry, but we do know that the Biden administration left the door wide open for these funds to do just that.

Additionally, the Biden administration has directly ignored the congressional intent of the Paycheck Protection Program to exclude Planned Parenthood from being eligible. Instead, since taking office, his administration has already approved four new loans totaling $6.7 million for various Planned Parenthood affiliates. A direct line of federal funding for Planned Parenthood to use on salaries, health benefits, and equipment in his first 100 days is something President Obama could have only dreamed about.

Tragically, the use of taxpayer funds for abortion will not stop here as President Biden has already taken several actions to further subsidize the abortion industry. The Department of Health and Human Services has already proposed new regulations that would once again send millions of Title X Family Planning Funds to abortion businesses, with many more actions to promote abortion underway.

President Biden has come into office at an unprecedented time in history, one in which the country is facing a global pandemic and Americans appear more divided then ever. There are few more unifying policies then prohibitions on direct taxpayer funding of abortion, a policy that has garnered a majority support from Americans for years. Instead of maintaining these unifying policies that he himself has supported as a senator, Joe Biden is cementing himself as the largest financial supporter of the abortion industry that has ever occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

FRC On the Hill (April 19-23): D.C. Statehood and Banking Access for Big Marijuana

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

April 23, 2021

Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week as your voice for life, family, and religious freedom on Capitol Hill. Here are some highlights from what FRC worked on in Congress this week.

House Passes an Unconstitutional Bill to make D.C. the 51st State

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 51—a bill that aims to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state—by a vote of 216-208. It was met with fierce opposition from Republican members. No members of either party broke rank, making H.R. 51 a purely partisan bill.

Rep. Andy Harris, the only Republican to represent the state of Maryland in either chamber, voiced his strong opposition to H.R. 51, citing his home state’s initial ceding of land to create the District. He outlined the constitutional problems with making the federal enclave into a new state, especially when land used to create D.C. was once a part of Maryland.

H.R. 51 now heads to the Senate, where only 44 of the 50 Democrats support the bill. FRC will continue engaging with both chambers of Congress to inform members of the constitutional and practical problems posed by D.C. statehood.

Check out FRC’s new resource outlining seven key things you should know about the current campaign for D.C. statehood.

Congress Seeks to Protect Big Marijuana Businesses, Without Debate

The marijuana industry continues to expand as more and more states begin legalizing recreational marijuana. Now, big marijuana businesses have partnered with the banking industry to push Congress for special legal protections. The SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 1996) would maintain the current federal prohibitions on marijuana drug use for recreational or medical purposes; however, it would create a special carveout for businesses that buy and sell marijuana to have access to banking and other financial systems.

This bill passed the House 321-101 with virtually no hearing, debate, or amendments allowed to be offered. The FRC team worked diligently to inform House members and their staff of the detrimental impact this bill would have, including propping up the marijuana industry and further exposing families and children to pervasive drug use. Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) lead the opposition to this bill, giving an excellent floor speech outlining how its passage would affect families and children. Unfortunately, many members who typically champion socially conservative issues voted in favor of the SAFE Banking Act, placing business interests ahead of the interests of American families.

This bill now moves to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to unveil a full marijuana legalization bill soon. Fortunately, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the Senate Banking Committee chairman, has come out in opposition to the SAFE Banking Act and has maintained a constant opposition to marijuana legalization. FRC will work with his office and other senators to ensure that this bill does not reach the president’s desk.

Other Notable Items FRC Tracked This Week

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine voting rights legislation. Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) each gave great testimony and asked questions to counter claims that voter integrity laws are discriminatory.
  • The House Judiciary Committee hearing on enforcing the Voting Rights Act. North Carolina’s lieutenant governor, Mark Robinson, gave a rousing defense of election integrity efforts in North Carolina and across the country.
  • The House Ways and Means Committee hearing on paid leave and child care. Representative Nunes (R-Calif.) brought up the importance of faith-based childcare providers and asked how they could be more involved in addressing childcare needs. 

FRC On the Hill (March 22-26): Senate Moves Quickly to Confirm Biden’s Radical Nominees

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joseph Norris

March 26, 2021

Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring activity in Congress that affects life, family, and religious freedom and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the most important Hill items FRC worked on this week.

The Senate Moves on President Biden’s Nominees

This week, amidst several votes and confirmation hearings, FRC was hard at work tracking nominations and informing senators on the radical positions held by many of the nominees under consideration. This week, the Senate made progress on several concerning nominees:

Marty Walsh: The Senate voted 68-29 to confirm Walsh as secretary of Labor. The former mayor of Boston has touted his credentials as a champion of the LGBT agenda and often prioritizes it over the constitutional right to religious liberty. Walsh and the Biden administration are now in a position to restrict faith-based organizations from contracting with the Department of Labor unless said organizations comply with their liberal sexuality ideology. See FRC’s blog on Walsh here.

Walsh’s confirmation also means that President Biden now has a full cabinet, with all 15 of his cabinet secretaries confirmed. Although President Trump’s nominees were confirmed earlier, Biden’s nominees have received more bipartisan support, despite being arguably the most pro-abortion cabinet of all time. The delay in confirming Biden’s nominees is likely due to the Senate taking up a second failed impeachment trial of President Trump.

Shalanda Young: The Senate voted 63-37 to confirm Young as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a position with significant influence on federal policy and the budget process. Representative Bob Good (R-Va.) had sent a letter to President Biden highlighting Young’s troubling opposition to the Hyde and Weldon Amendments, two longstanding federal pro-life policies. With Neera Tanden’s nomination having been withdrawn, Young could soon find herself as the director of OMB, wielding even greater influence. See FRC’s blog on Young here.

Rachel Levine: The Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Levine as assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Only Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) broke with Republican ranks to support the nomination. Over the past several months, FRC had been actively educating senators on Levine’s concerning track record. Levine has a history of promoting abortion and actively speaking out against pro-life measures. Even more troubling are Levine’s radical stances on LGBT issues, which include advocating that children as young as five years old be allowed to change their gender without parental consent. Levine, who identifies as a transgender woman, has already announced intentions to use the position at HHS as a means of advancing this ideology.

See FRC’s resources for more information:

Vanita Gupta: The Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance the nomination of Vanita Gupta to be associate attorney general at the Department of Justice ended in a deadlocked tie. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) eloquently stated how Gupta would use her new position to advance abortion while harming women’s sports and religious liberty. The committee chairman cut off Sen. Tom Cotton in the middle of his remarks in order to hold the vote. Gupta now waits to see if the full Senate will discharge her nomination in order to advance towards final confirmation.  

Cindy Marten: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing this past week to assess Marten’s qualifications to serve as deputy secretary of Education during a tumultuous time for all levels of education in our country. Marten has a history of spearheading LGBT issues in the San Diego school district, and Sen. Murray (D-Wash.) directly brought up how she would have the opportunity to break down barriers for LGBT students.

Samantha Power: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a nomination hearing for Power to be the new head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). As USAID administrator, Power would have the ability to direct global health funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups, which is troubling given her past support for abortion and other anti-life policies. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also raised the issue of her troubling stance on an anti-Semitic UN resolution while serving as Obama’s UN ambassador.

Other Notable Items FRC Tracked this Week:

  • Congress passed an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, even after discovering that Planned Parenthood received nearly $80 million in loans despite being ineligible for the program. Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) lead efforts in committee and on the Senate floor to block Planned Parenthood from receiving these loans.
  • The Senate Rules Committee held a hearing on S.1, a massive bill that would federalize elections and completely undermine election integrity. Senator Cruz introduced a letter for the record on behalf of FRC alongside letters from other conservative groups that oppose the bill.
  • Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.) introduced two new bills supported by FRC. One bill would ban damages or monetary awards in lawsuits against religious monuments and religious imagery in public buildings. The other would make it illegal to transport a minor across state lines to get an abortion.
  • The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on Extremism in the Armed Forces. The chief of staff at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) testified. Several members of Congress, including Reps. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) and Austin Scott (R-Ga.), went after the SPLC witness over their fallacious hate group designations and internal turmoil. Other members raised the shooting at FRC in 2012 as a direct implication of their targeting of social conservative organizations.

Biden’s Cabinet (Part 6): Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh’s Fixation on the LGBT Agenda

by Joseph Norris

March 23, 2021

This is Part 6 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read previous posts on Antony BlinkenXavier BecerraJennifer GranholmMarcia Fudge, and Shalanda Young.

Confirmed by the Senate 68-29, Marty Walsh, the new secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), will have to choose between advancing the LGBT agenda and protecting religious liberty. Given the policies of past Democratic administrations and Walsh’s own track record, it is safe to assume that he will advocate for policies that favor the LGBT agenda to the detriment of religious liberty.

Walsh served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives before serving two terms as the mayor of Boston. During his confirmation hearing on February 4, Walsh highlighted his status as a labor union member and advocate. A closer analysis of his background reveals a long track record of prioritizing the LGBT agenda. As a Massachusetts state representative, Walsh argued in favor of same-sex marriage bills. As Boston’s mayor, he intentionally hired several LGBT employees as a political statement, not based solely on their merits for the job, and made the bathrooms in City Hall gender-neutral. Walsh also sought to ensure that city employees had access to “transition-related healthcare services.” Walsh seems set to continue his LGBT activism at the DOL.

The policies of the Obama-era DOL severely limited the religious liberty of faith adherents that sought to contract with DOL. As a result, religious individuals and non-profit organizations were less likely to seek government contracts or utilize government services. Seeking to reverse this trend, the Trump administration’s DOL finalized a rule encouraging “the full and equal participation of religious organizations as federal contractors.” Family Research Council had submitted comments in support of this rule change, which ensured that people would “be free to believe as they engage with the government and in the public square.” This rule change is one of the policies that is likely in danger with Walsh at the helm of the DOL.

As FRC’s David Closson has noted, there is a growing perception in America that religious liberty is merely an excuse for bigotry. We must tactfully and graciously contradict this misconception, explaining that religious liberty—freedom of belief—is good for everyone, not just people of faith. Christians should also pray that Walsh and the DOL will seek the good of all American workers while still respecting the religious freedom protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

FRC On the Hill (March 15-19): A Radical HHS Secretary, So-Called “Women’s Rights” Bills, and the Equality Act

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joseph Norris

March 19, 2021

Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring activity in Congress that affects life, family, and religious freedom and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the most important Hill items FRC worked on this week.

The Senate Confirms Biden’s Radical HHS Nominee

This week, the Senate voted 50-49 to confirm Xavier Becerra as the new secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Becerra lacks any significant experience in public health; what he does have is an extensive track record of advocating for pro-abortion policies. The FRC team worked diligently over the past few months to inform senators about Becerra’s troubling history.

Becerra was confirmed with the support of two moderate senators who have voted for pro-life measures in the past, Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Collins (R-Maine). They unfortunately overlooked Becerra’s record and voted to confirm the most pro-abortion HHS secretary in history. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) lead the Republican efforts to defeat Becerra’s nomination and spoke eloquently on the Senate floor. Cotton highlighted Becerra’s history of attacking pro-life groups while serving as California’s attorney general.

It is no fluke that Becerra’s nomination and confirmation coincide with ongoing aggressive lobbying from the abortion industry. Planned Parenthood has called for the removal of all regulations governing chemical abortions. Last month, the Guttmacher Institute released a long list of policy demands for the Biden administration. Now that Becerra is confirmed, FRC will work to expose Becerra’s efforts to implement President Biden’s radical anti-life, anti-family agenda.

See FRC’s resources for more information on Becerra:

House Votes on Women’s Rights Legislation Without Protecting Women

To mark Women’s History Month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on two measures advertised as advancing women’s rights. In reality, both measures contain language that poses great harm to biological women. Leading up to the votes, FRC informed members of Congress of the true nature of these bills and their harmful effects on women.

The first measure was a resolution to retroactively eliminate the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed constitutional amendment that failed to acquire support from the necessary number of states in the 1970s. The ERA has been touted as a legal cure for all unjust discrimination against women. However, the ERA would do little to advance women in society. Instead, it would mandate abortion funding and eliminate existing legal protections that celebrate the biological realities of women. The measure to remove the ratification deadline passed 244-204. However, the ERA garnered the lowest amount of support it has ever received in the past 50 years, with only four Republicans supporting it.

FRC’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, Mary Szoch, shared her story of playing women’s basketball at Notre Dame and explained how the ERA would limit the dreams of countless women if it were ratified.

The second House measure was a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a historically bipartisan bill originally passed in 1994 in an effort to improve the criminal justice response to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and increase the availability of victims’ services. Unfortunately, this reauthorization bill perpetuates and adds language that prevents it from achieving these goals, making the bill about expanding a radical sexuality ideology, not protecting abuse victims. The bill passed 244-172, with many Republicans opposing it due to the provisions that promote abortion and the LGBT agenda. Representative Tom Cole (R-Okla.) highlighted how the bill did nothing to protect women from being coerced into an abortion from their partners. Sadly, Rep. Ann Wagner’s (R-Mo.) thoughtful amendment to ban sex-selection abortions was defeated by the pro-abortion majority.

The FRC team will continue to inform lawmakers on how these bills could be modified to achieve the goal of helping women.

See FRC’s resource for more information:

Debate Continues Around the Equality Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Equality Act, a bill that would massively overhaul our federal civil rights framework in order to mandate special privileges for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), expand abortion access, and gut religious liberty. If the Equality Act were to become law, it would leave many victims in its wake, including women, children, medical professionals, parents, teachers, students, families (including small business owners), the unborn, churches, religious organizations and schools, people of faith, and even those members of the LGBT community it claims to protect. FRC was instrumental in preparing senators to cut through the rhetoric and explain just how bad the Equality Act would be for our country.

Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), the Chairman of the Senate Values Action Team, put it best: “We don’t oppose equality, but we do oppose legislation when you take the rights of one and dismiss the rights of others.”

Alarmingly, President Biden has already said he would sign the bill if it does pass through Congress. FRC will continue to monitor the Equality Act as it moves through the Senate.

See FRC’s resource for more information:

Other Notable Items FRC Tracked This Week:

  • The Senate Health Committee voted 13-9 to advance Rachel Levine’s nomination to be HHS assistant secretary. Levine, a biological man who identifies as a transgender woman, has a history of advancing anti-family policies as the secretary of health in Pennsylvania.
  • The House Veteran’s Affairs Committee held a hearing on improving health care for America’s women veterans. Representatives Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) used this hearing to strongly push the VA to fund abortions. 
  • The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on forced labor. Several senators, including John Thune (R-S.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), raised concerns over the forced labor of Uyghur Muslims in China.

FRC On the Hill (March 8-12): Covid Relief Spending, a Radical Foreign Policy Agenda, and Extreme Nominees

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joseph Norris

March 12, 2021

Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring activity in Congress that affects life, family, and religious freedom and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the most important Hill items FRC worked on this week.

Congress Passes the American Rescue Plan Act, Sending $450 Billion to the Abortion Industry

This week Congress passed, and President Biden signed, the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that has more to do with funding abortion than providing necessary relief to Americans. The bill was rammed through both chambers of Congress and despite Biden’s promise of unity, did not receive the support of a single Republican. Throughout the process, FRC worked diligently to add in key provisions that would prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion and promote religious freedom.

The bill includes funding for a litany of things, some having to do with the pandemic such as testing, vaccines, and economic relief in the form of stimulus checks. However this relief is held hostage by the  billions that lack bipartisan restrictions on federal funding for abortion. For the first time in decades, taxpayer money can and likely will go to directly paying for ending the lives of the unborn. This in addition to the $10 billion that can be used to lobby for abortion overseas. The FRC team spent the week informing senators and members of Congress about just how much this bill subsidizes the abortion industry.

While Biden is trumpeting this bill as a “historic victory” for Americans, it is a devastating loss for the unborn and the consciences of Americans who do not want their taxpayer funds paying for the horrific practice of abortion.

See FRC’s resource for more information:

Secretary of State Charts out Biden’s Radical Foreign Policy Agenda

Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to highlight the foreign policy priorities of the Biden administration. Right from the beginning in his opening statement, Blinken openly stated the goals of promoting “women’s reproductive rights” and advancing “LGBT rights” across the globe. As a result, FRC has been tracking the Biden administration’s foreign policy actions to make transparent how dramatic of a shift this is from the policies implemented under the Trump administration.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a strong advocate for the unborn, directly challenged Blinken’s support for countries with population control programs and urged the administration to “speak out” against China and their forced abortion policy. Rather than committing to taking action, Blinken repeated his pledge that we need to focus on human rights across the globe.

The White House also took action this week to entrench a radical sexuality ideology by establishing a new Gender Policy Council via Executive Order. The stated goals of the Council include advancing gender identity and abortion in both domestic and foreign policy. The report stated the need to “promote sexual and reproductive health and rights” across the globe.

Biden’s Executive Orders and Blinken’s statements during the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing showcase the unilateral action the Biden administration plans to take on abortion and human sexuality. This is a far cry from Biden’s promise of unity and Blinken’s repeated promise to work with Congress.

The Senate Continues to Advance Biden’s Radical Nominees

This week, FRC was focused on informing senators about the radical positions of Biden’s nominees, as they are up for confirmation in the Senate. While many of Biden’s picks are concerning, these are the individuals chosen who warrant the most concern:

Shalanda Young: Nominated to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Young was advanced by the Senate Homeland Security Committee despite all Republicans present voting no. Senator Lankford provided great remarks explaining their opposition, highlighting Young’s shocking opposition to the Hyde Amendment and other protections against forcing doctors to perform abortions. See FRC’s blog on Young here.

Marcia Fudge: The Senate voted 66-36 to confirm Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Based on her record in Congress, there are deep concerns that Fudge will roll back protections for religious liberty in the name of LGBTQ equality. See FRC’s blog on Fudge here.

Merrick Garland: Confirmed by a 70-30 vote to be the next U.S. Attorney General, Garland passed with bipartisan support. This is in spite of reservations about a repeat of the Obama administration’s Justice Department.

Xavier Becerra: With a radical track record, Becerra needed a discharge petition vote of 51-48 to bring his nomination to the Senate floor, after a deadlocked vote in the Senate Finance Committee. Despite grave concerns over Becerra’s strong history supporting abortion, both Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) who have supported pro-life legislation in the past, publicly supported his nomination. See FRC’s blog on Becerra here.

Other Notable Items FRC Tracked This Week

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Vanita Gupta to be an associate attorney general. Gupta has taken radical positions on drug legalization and religious freedom protections.
  • The House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on expanding veterans access to fertility services with a goal of expanding in-vitro fertilization procedures for veterans without pro-life restrictions to protect human embryos from being destroyed.
  • The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on loosening federal policies on controlled substances. Democrat leaders used the hearing to push legalizing marijuana as a social justice issue. 

Biden’s Cabinet (Part 5): Abortion Extremist Neera Tanden May Soon Be Replaced With Another – Shalanda Young

by Ruth Moreno

March 11, 2021

This is Part 5 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues. Read previous posts on Antony BlinkenXavier BecerraJennifer Granholm, and Marcia Fudge.

President Biden’s latest cabinet pick is another pro-abortion extremist. After Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget was withdrawn over her radical policy positions, many senators, including Republicans, rallied around Shalanda Young, his nominee to be Deputy Director of OMB as an alternative to Tanden. Unfortunately, during her nomination hearing, it was revealed that Young opposes both the Hyde Amendment and the Weldon Amendment, bipartisan measures meant to prevent tax dollars from funding abortion and protect the conscience rights of pro-life Americans.

Young’s responses to Senator James Lankford’s (R-Okla.) questions for the record after a March 4 committee hearing confirm these radical positions. When asked about the Hyde Amendment, which has stopped taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for elective abortions since 1976, Young responded as follows:

If confirmed I will follow the laws put forth by Congress and signed by the President. The President has spoken in favor of Congress ending the Hyde Amendment as part of his commitment to providing comprehensive health care for all women. Further, eliminating the Hyde Amendment is a matter of economic and racial justice because it most significantly impacts Medicaid recipients, who are low-income and more likely to be women of color.

Young’s response, far from being a straightforward statement about the law or about the Biden administration’s policy agenda, suggests that she is an active supporter of the elimination of the Hyde Amendment. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said as much when he explained why he voted against confirming Young:

I had planned to support Ms. Young based on her testimony before the committee,” Portman said. “In reviewing her answers to the committee’s questions for the record, though, I’ve got to say I was really troubled by her responses, particularly her strong advocacy for eliminating the Hyde amendment.”

Young’s position on the Weldon Amendment is equally worrisome. The Weldon Amendment, which protects individuals who have a religious or moral objection to participating in an abortion, has been included in funding bills since 2005. This important conscience protection withholds federal funding from agencies or programs that discriminate against health care providers that do not pay for or promote abortion, but Young’s response when asked about the Weldon Amendment did not suggest her support:

If confirmed I will follow the laws put forth by Congress and signed by the President. The President has laid out a health care plan that would provide comprehensive health care for all women, including reproductive health care services.

Young gave Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) nearly identical responses, adding that if she is confirmed to the position as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, she “will work with the Department of Health and Human Services to determine the effect the Weldon Amendment has on healthcare implementation, especially vulnerable populations.”

Young is right that public servants should consider the needs of vulnerable populations, but abortion is not the solution. Forcing pro-life Americans to fund a practice they believe is morally equivalent to murder and penalizing health care providers with religious or moral objections to abortion does nothing for the needy. Young should know better than to disguise her opposition to the Hyde and Weldon amendments as concern for the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.

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