Tag archives: Congress

Students Are Flying High with the SOAR Act

by Tabitha Walter

October 23, 2015

According to a 2013 Census Bureau report, DC schools are among the top three states or state-equivalents that spend the most money per student. One would think that DC’s robust culture and accessibility to educational venues would provide the perfect atmosphere in which a student would thrive. Unfortunately, last year, DC schools ranked last in the nation for education. This goes to show that something is terribly wrong with the educational system. Congress continues to work on a solution for this problem.

In 2011, Congress passed H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR) sponsored by Speaker Boehner, which provides funding for vouchers and public schools. This program allows for low-income families to choose a different school, including qualified private and parochial schools, while public schools improve. Since the enactment of this program, DC students have significantly improved their math and reading scores. Those who have participated in the program have had higher graduation rates compared to those in DC public schools. This proves that parents and families are more qualified to select the best place of education for their student and that placing a child in a school based on their zip code is an antiquated method.

Even though the SOAR Act expires at the end of the fiscal year of 2016, Speaker Boehner has put the legislation back on the table to ensure its reauthorization for an additional five years. Despite opposition from the left, this legislation has passed the House and is moving forward in the Senate. Another five years of this program could be a game-changer for DC students.

Ethical Concerns Surrounding Three Parent Embryos Raised on Capitol Hill

by Emily Minick

April 11, 2014

Last month, an FDA Advisory Committee held a hearing examining mitochondrial disease prevention with the creation of three-parent embryos.

Mitochondria are organelles in every cell of the body that are responsible for creating energy. These mitochondria contain their own DNA genes, but mutations in mitochondrial DNA can result in serious diseases and genetic disorders. There have been various proposals to attempt to treat these disorders by mitochondrial replacement therapy, and one proposal that the FDA Advisory Committee recently discussed was the creation of three parent-embryos.

Three-parent embryos are created by various techniques with the intent that the new embryos be healthy and without a genetic disorder. One technique uses an egg from a mother with the genetic disorder and removes the nucleus of that egg, placing the nucleus into the cytoplasm of a healthy egg that has had its own nucleus removed. Then using that recombined new healthy egg it is fertilized with a father’s sperm resulting in the creation of an embryo with genetics from three parents.

There are numerous scientific uncertainties surrounding three parent embryos. There is sparse scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of these techniques. Additionally, there is virtually no evidence to support safety or health results for three-parent children born from these techniques. Plus, one wonders about the impact of this procedure on future offspring, including the unintended side effects of genetic engineering of human beings.

There are also serious ethical questions that need to be answered first, and which were raised to the Advisory Committee during their hearing. These techniques would destroy human embryos for the purpose of science. Additionally, the annual Dickey Wicker Amendment prohibits federal funding for human embryo harm or destruction. Although many presenters who gave oral testimony at the FDA Advisory Committee, including FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, focused on the ethical questions surrounding three parent embryos, the Committee said that they were not focusing on whether the FDA should approve this technique, but rather how they would go about creating three parent embryos.

Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) both raised concerns recently about three parent embryos to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg during Congressional hearings.

Commissioner Hamburg admitted that she knows there are ethical concerns regarding this issue, yet the FDA is not the appropriate agency to address those concerns. If the FDA is not the appropriate agency to consider the ethical concerns with this technique, about which they held a public Advisory Committee hearing, who is responsible to address these concerns?

Commissioner Hamburg’s response regarding the ethical controversy surrounding three-parent embryos raises more concerns that the FDA may actually continue to proceed forward with this human experiment, and even produce guidance for scientists who wish to proceed with the creation and gestation of genetically-designed babies.

With Contempt, from Attorney General Holder

by Leanna Baumer

April 8, 2014

Since it’s been almost a year since the last appearance of Attorney General Eric Holder before the House Judiciary Committee, Members had no shortage of topics to probe today in an often contentious Committee hearing that lasted close to four hours.

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) opened the hearing with remarks focused on the “extraordinary level of Executive overreach by the Obama Administration”. Members followed up with particular grievances, including IRS targeting of conservative groups and individuals, Administration disregard for statutory requirements in the Affordable Care Act, Justice Department failure to answer countless Congressional requests for information and documents, dismissal of state marriage laws, and the end to enforcement of the federal marijuana ban. 

Importantly for those concerned with the Administration’s ongoing disregard for state marriage laws, Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) drew attention to troubling remarks made by the Attorney General in late February of this year. In addressing a gathering of state attorneys general, Attorney General Holder had voiced his skepticism of state policies that recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman, declaring that “I believe we must be suspicious of legal classifications based solely on sexual orientation.”

Remarking on the very unusual step of advising state attorneys generals to disregard constitutional measures enacted by wide-margins of voters, Congressman Chabot asked why the top law enforcement official in the country would urge his state counterparts to abandon their legal obligations (a posture some conscientious state attorneys general such as Colorado’s Attorney General John Suthers have condemned publically). General Holder attempted to deny his use of the particular phrase “suspicious” and offered the qualified response that usually a decision to defend a law “can’t be based on politics or policy.” While appealing words, in practice, the Justice Department’s posture has been one that elevates rank partisanship over fair defense of the law.

In a personal anecdote, Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) later brought up the view that bound he and a fellow lawyer together in friendship despite political differences — the profound “hope that the law will trump politics.” He went on to describe the powerful role the rule of law plays in America as “the greatest equalizing force in our country” and “the greatest unifying force in our country.”

Unfortunately, for Members of the Judiciary Committee and more significantly the American public, this Administration’s politicization of the rule of law on many fronts means that the public’s views on marriage — even their ability to simply express those views as participants in civil society — rests on increasingly shaky ground. The Attorney General’s condescension and refusal to answer most Member questions left little of Congressman Gowdy’s “hope” and more mere “politics.”  

Pro-Life Speeches from the House of Representatives

by Krystle Gabele

January 16, 2014

Last night, the House of Representatives held special order speeches to commemorate the 41st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. Below are the speeches from the floor of the House:

Congressman Phil Roe: An Obamacare Alternative

by FRC

November 13, 2013

Family Research Council (FRC) hosted U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) today for a webcast lecture to present an overview of the Republican Study Committee’s (RSC) comprehensive alternative to Obamacare.

Rep. Roe represents the First Congressional District of Tennessee. He earned a degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Austin Peay State University and went on to earn a Medical Degree from the University of Tennessee. Upon graduation, he served two years in the United States Army Medical Corps. Rep. Roe practiced medicine as an OB/GYN for 31 years and is a member of the Physicians’ Caucus and the Health Caucus. Rep. Roe serves on two congressional committees, Education and the Workforce and Veterans’ Affairs.

Watch the video from the lecture.

Reps. Trent Franks and Diane Black to Speak at ProLifeCon

by Krystle Gabele

January 18, 2013

It is hard to believe that ProLifeCon is only four days away.  We are blessed to have so many amazing speakers on the lineup this year, as one of the goals is to empower online activists to bring awareness to the policies impacting the pro-life community in Washington.

We are excited to have Rep. Trent Franks from Arizona as one of our speakers.  Rep. Franks has spent most of his life working on children’s issues and trying to build a better future for all children. Whether as a Representative in the Arizona State Legislature, Executive Director of Arizona Family Research Institute, or later as the Director of the Arizona Governor’s Office for Children, Rep. Franks has worked passionately in an effort to protect the human life at every stage, including the unborn.  Now a Member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, as well as the chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, Rep. Franks remains committed to protecting the innocent. He is the author and sponsor of numerous pieces of pro-life legislation, including the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (or PRENDA), the only bill in the history of the United States Congress to address the problem of sex and race targeted abortions. Rep. Franks is currently serving his sixth term as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rep. Diane Black from Tennessee will also be speaking at ProLifeCon.  Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, Rep. Black has been fighting for the rights of the unborn, building off her work when she served in the Tennessee Legislature.  Rep. Black’s first piece of legislation, HConRes 36, would have prevented Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding, and she has also co-sponsored legislation that would codify the Hyde Amendment and prohibit abortion funding in the new health care law.

Independence Day on Cook’s Point

by Robert Morrison

July 6, 2012

[caption id=”attachment_8278” align=”alignright” width=”224”] American, Maryland and Gadsden flags on Cook’s Point[/caption]

I hadn’t really expected to see the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag flying at an Independence Day celebration on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. But I knew this would be a special celebration. Peter and Margarete wanted to include a reading of the entire Declaration of Independence at their gathering of family, friends and neighbors. The Chesapeake Bay breezes, very warm, ruffled and flourished the American,Maryland and Gadsden flags on Cook’s Point.

The waters of the bay invited, but we were warned of jellyfish beneath the cooling waves. A boat ride may be better than a swim today. Maryland is just beginning its Bicentennial of the War of 1812. Two hundred years ago, it was stinging British warships that posed a greater danger than jellyfish in these waters. You cannot go anywhere these days, it seems, without pointed reminders of the country’s heritage.

We began our July 4th observance with prayer. A priest reminded us of the rare privilege we have in this country to pray publicly and how this right is the basis for our civil liberty, as well. Then, we all faced the flagstaff as the Star-Spangled Banner was played.

Following this, our hosts’ 13-year-old daughter stood atop a picnic table and read the first two stirring paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence.

She read with the enthusiasm and conviction that only a bright teenager can bring to this venerable 236-year-old document.

I had the honor of reading the middle part, everything from “…pursuit of happiness” to “…let facts be submitted to a candid world.”

My portion of the Declaration included that line stating that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” I cannot help but consider the process of passing Obamacare when we talk about consent of the governed.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the White House rammed through the Senate a bill that did not include protections from abortion coverage—on Christmas Eve, 2009. This in a country that Gallup tells us is increasingly pro-life. (51%-41% in the latest survey.)

Then, they spoke of having to go to a conference committee of the House and Senate to reconcile the different versions of the bill. That was because the House of Representatives in November 09 had passed Obamacare with the famous pro-life Stupak Amendment. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) joined with Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) to attach a pro-life provision to the Obamacare measure that passed the House.

Earlier, on November 7, 2009, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment passed the House by a vote of 240-194. It was the highest vote cast on any measure related to the overhaul of health care. If you were seeking consensus, if you yearned for bi-partisanship, if you cared about the consent of the governed, you must look to this historic vote.

The Senate might have taken up the House-passed version, and passed it, with its pro-life provisions. Or, it might have gone to a conference committee, reconciled the two versions and then re-passed the result.

But the Senate had passed a milestone with the Jan. 2010 special election in Massachusetts. Republican Scott Brown had been elected promising to be “#41” —a decisive vote to stop Obamacare from passing. In that famously liberal state, in a special election to fill the unexpired term of Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Massachusetts voters emphatically did not give their consent to Obamacare.

Faced with the possibility of the Senate’s having to swallow the House version, with the Stupak Amendment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pledged to go down the chimney, around the gate, over the wall; in short, to do whatever was necessary to steamroll the bill through. Stupak and most of his pro-life Democratic House colleagues were pressured and arm-twisted into swallowing an Executive Order from President Obama. They were gulled into believing this measure from the most pro-abortion president in history would protect Americans from having to pay for abortions. It wasn’t a fig leaf; it wasn’t even a bay leaf to hide their nakedness.

Dozens of those faux-life Democrats went down to defeat the following November as voters gave a “shellacking” to the president’s party. But not before the whipped and tricked House Members voted through the Senate version of the health care bill, 219-212. It was a hair’s breadth victory, but it met the Pelosi test of doing anything to jam and sham it through.

It was to this dog’s breakfast of a process that Chief Justice Roberts gave his blessing in his infamous ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius late last month. Then, continuing a wholly dishonorable tradition, the Chief absconded to the island fortress of Malta. He left the country perhaps to avoid having to answer any questions about his tortured reasoning and its suspect timing.

The American people at every point had rejected this bill. They had voted in an avowed opponent in the nation’s most liberal state. They had voted out scores of Obamacare backers in the House. And yet, Chief Justice Roberts genuflected to this bizarre legislation as evidence of his judicial restraint. He tells us he is constrained to respect this abuse of power, this rape of the representative process, as the prerogative of the legislative and executive branches.

One of the classic political science texts on Congress is called The Dance of Legislation. This bill might more properly be called the St. Vitus Dance of Legislation. And the four-Justice minority pointed out that if this is a tax, then tax bills have to originate in the House of Representatives (Art. 1, Sec. 7, Clause 1).

The pretzel pundits in many an elite journal are tying themselves in knots trying to see a silver lining in the dark cloud Chief Justice Roberts pulled over us.

He labeled the Individual Mandate a tax, they say, thus making it harder for this administration, or any liberal successors to do anything worse.

If you allow them to keep this scaffold in place, why do they need anything worse? Roberts’ ruling merely takes away one rope. Just as then-Speaker Pelosi swore back in 2010, they will find another rope.

Let’s understand what Obamacare is: It is the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade. It is the basis for the HHS Mandate against hospitals, schools and para-church ministries. The HHS Mandate is the gravest threat to religious freedom in our nation’s history. It will force all of these private and religious groups, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to provide coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs. If they can Mandate abortion drugs now, why not Mandate abortion procedures and sex-change operations after election day? Then, as we’ve all overheard, Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world may see an even more “flexible” administration.

I believe the Roberts Ruling and the media reaction to it reflects a bottomless, Inside-the-Beltway cynicism. The best example of cynicism I’ve read comes not from Washington but from Paris. In 1815, France’s Foreign Minister Talleyrand waited impatiently for the Russian Minister to meet him. When the Russian failed to show up on time, Talleyrand tapped his foot in irritation. Told that the Russian had collapsed and died in his carriage en route to the meeting, Talleyrand stroked his chin pensively and said: “I wonder why he did that.” That’s how I read the pretzel pundits.

Chief Justice Roberts may actually come back to the Constitution when the many lawsuits against Sec. Sebelius’ HHS Mandate get to the Supreme Court. Let us pray he does. But that is no reason to go silent now. If his outrageous ruling of June 28th was a mere maneuver intended to give him more latitude later, that ignoble tactic can only work if conservatives help him out by raising a hue and cry against his unprincipled opinion. We must beat the drums of opposition to this appalling decision.

After he was confirmed in 2005, reporters asked Chief Justice Roberts if he would wear the three gold stripes that the late Chief Justice had added to his robes as a badge of rank. “I think I’ll have to earn them,” Roberts said with becoming modesty then. Now, unfortunately, it is the liberals and the pretzel pundits who are sewing on those gold stripes.

As the sun set over the Chesapeake, I was encouraged by the faith and courage of the good people I met on July 4th on Cook’s Point. Our beloved Declaration was crafted with such folks, the “good people of these colonies,” in mind.

After our reading of the Declaration, I pored over the names of those intrepid Signers of 236 years ago. Two names stood out:New Jersey’s Rev. John Witherspoon andMaryland’s Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Witherspoon was a Presbyterian pastor, a leader among hundreds of clergy in the “Black Regiment” of preachers who rallied to Freedom’s cause. Charles Carroll lived in my home town of Annapolis. A wealthy landowner, he was the only Catholic to sign the Declaration. Witherspoon and Carroll pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Can we do any less? In that Catholic-Protestant alliance our nation was forged. In such a strong faith coalition, it may yet be saved.

ProLifeCon Features Reps. Chris Smith and Vicky Hartzler

by Krystle Gabele

January 19, 2012

ProLifeCon is only five days away. We have an exciting lineup of speakers, and one of the goals is to empower online activists to bring awareness to the policies impacting the pro-life community in Washington.

We are excited to have Rep. Chris Smith from New Jersey as one of our speakers. As co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, Rep. Smith has been instrumental in advocating for pro-life legislation in the House of Representatives. Rep. Smith has also been a strong voice against human trafficking, and as co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking, he has successfully written and passed into law The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler from Missouri will also be joining ProLifeCon as a featured speaker. Rep. Hartzler was elected to serve the Fourth District of Missouri in 2010, and she has been a tireless advocate for pro-life issues. She supported H.R. 3, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which was sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith. Rep. Hartzler is also a member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus and Congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking.

 

 

ProLifeCon has more exciting speakers who will be featured throughout this week. Click here to register today and learn how you can spread the pro-life message to others.

Should Catholics Have a Conscience?

by Krystle Gabele

November 22, 2011

Recently, Hot Air reported that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesnt understand why the U.S. Catholic bishops are against requiring insurance companies to cover contraceptives, including known abortifacients. She belittles Catholics who object, conscientiously, to paying for or performing services that their church teaches are wrong.

Perhaps she should consider the Catholic Catechism, which says that Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. What could be more good than defending life? And what could be more evil than to disregard it, or denigrate those who seek to uphold it.

Even though the former Speaker is Catholic, she seems to have long forgotten that Catholicism is unequivocal in support of the sanctity of human life, from conception onward. This teaching is discussed throughout the Catechism, and there is even a section regarding the usage of abortifacients, and the Catholic Churchs stance against the use.

The Churchs teaching on this issue has a direct bearing on public policy. It is convenient to say, Im personally against abortion, but dont want to use my personal convictions to make laws. This is sad and silly: Our moral convictions inform our every decision, public or private; if one avers that personhood begins at conception, and believes this deeply, it should affect the way one legislates.

But as my colleagues Cathy Ruse and Rob Schwarzwalder have argued in their recent booklet, The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences, medical science and irreducible logic demonstrate that the embryo is a person and, if a person, deserving of legal protection.

As a Catholic, I am disheartened that Mrs. Pelosi would advocate against the sanctity of human life. God created life, and it is our role to protect the born and unborn. In fact, Mrs. Pelosi should be reminded of a passage in Jeremiah: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

As this passage indicates, God is the Author of life. If that is true, then one of governments most fundamental duties is to protect that which He has declared sacred. It is my hope that Mrs. Pelosi will come to recognize this truth.

Obamacare: More Bad News for Families?

by Chris Gacek

November 3, 2011

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, economist and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, concluded a recent column on Obamacare: Yes, health care will be affordable for low-income Americans but only if theyre unmarried. Her column doesnt appear to have received a great deal of attention, but Furchtgott-Roth was describing one line of analysis from an October 27th hearing conducted by the House Committee on Government Reform. The hearing was entitled Examining Obamacares Hidden Marriage Penalty and Its Impact on the Deficit. The details are a bit complicated, so I recommend reading the Furchtgott-Roth article. (A committee staff report is also available.) Suffice it to say that there is much to learn about Obamacare as Mrs. Pelosi once told us.

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