Tag archives: Legislation

FRC’s Efforts on Capitol Hill (Week of July 20)

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Laura Lee Caum

July 28, 2020

FRC wrapped up another busy week fighting for faith, family, and freedom on Capitol Hill.

The House came together — and then fell apart

The House of Representatives returned from a two-week recess with a full schedule of legislative items. On Tuesday, the House passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes all of the major defense programs, with broad bipartisan support. Fortunately, unlike last year, this year’s bill did not include a new family planning program with pro-life concerns or language to reshape military standards to be gender-neutral. The Senate passed their version of the NDAA on Thursday, also with broad bipartisan support. The absence of progressive policy priorities allowed Democrats and Republicans to join together in support of this year’s NDAA.

While members resisted the temptation to insert partisan priorities in the NDAA, the same could not be said of the Democrats on the Appropriations committee. The House passed the first minibus appropriations package (H.R. 7608), which includes several major pro-life and pro-family concerns. Specifically, the State and Foreign Operations section of the bill included language to repeal President Trump’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, which bars funding for foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning. The bill would also provide direct funding for the World Health Organization, which actively promotes abortion and a radical sex education agenda abroad. Finally, the bill would weaken a longstanding pro-life amendment that bans funding for any organization or program that promotes coercive abortions. Despite President Trump’s threat to veto any spending bills that weaken or undermine current pro-life policies, House leadership has pushed through a spending bill full of anti-life measures.

FRC priorities attacked in committee hearings

One-third of pregnancies in trans men are unintended.” That statement from the co-founder of Minority Veterans of America is just one example of the radical liberal agenda that was on full display in House committee hearings this week.

Several values issues came up in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing. First, Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) questioned what was included in the expansion of contraception access for veterans in H.R. 4281. The Director of Reproductive Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clarified that this would include abortifacients like the morning after pill. H.R. 3582, which would expand the scope of the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans to include LGBT-identifying veterans, was also introduced. Promoting progressive social policies in the VA has become a new tactic in the House as they seek to sneak in social experiments on abortion, marijuana, and LGBT rights into these federal programs.

Some members used the House Foreign Assistance Budget hearing to attack the president’s appointees at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). John Barsa, the Acting Administrator of USAID, who has actively fought against the global expansion of abortion throughout the coronavirus pandemic, was questioned by members for the various pro-life and pro-family appointees at USAID. The questions the members asked were not about the appointee’s experience or credentials for the role. Instead, they raised concerns only because the president’s appointees hold a worldview with which they disagree. These types of attacks are very similar to those leveled at key White House officials, like Russ Vought, as they made their way through the Senate confirmation process. This indirect assault against people who hold a biblical worldview is greatly concerning.

Although there was a fair share of anti-life and anti-family rhetoric on Capitol Hill this week, Christians shouldn’t be discouraged. Proverbs 21:1 reminds us that in God’s hand, “the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.” Remember, God is sovereign; nothing surprises Him or takes Him off guard. Moreover, there are actions you can take to protect the values of faith, family, and freedom. First, it is important that you pray. Scripture instructs us to pray for those who are in authority, which includes our leaders in government. Second, it is imperative that you vote and get involved in the political process. As God commanded the exiles in Babylon, we, too, should seek the welfare of our city by engaging in the sometimes messy world of politics. This is one of the practical ways we obey Jesus’ command to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31). Thus, when we are tempted to be discouraged by the rhetoric on Capitol Hill, let’s remember the words of Winston Churchill. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Laura Lee Caum is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

Speaker Pelosi’s Partisan Coronavirus Relief Bill Attacks Life and Family

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

May 19, 2020

Partisan politics are at play again. Last week, House Democrats passed the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800), a coronavirus relief bill that purports to help the people risking their lives on the front lines of the coronavirus, but in reality disregards vulnerable lives by funding abortion providers and deconstructs the idea of family.

The bill passed by a margin of 208-199 with one Republican supporting and 14 Democrats opposing. While it is unlikely to move in the Republican-controlled Senate, it is important to highlight how congressional Democrats are seeking to work against human life and the family during this pandemic.

In summary, the Heroes Act:

Attacks Longstanding Pro-life Policies

  • It creates a new “Heroes Fund” to provide an additional $13 per hour for essential workers in addition to their regular wages. Helping frontline workers who have put their lives at risk to battle the coronavirus is a good idea in principle; however, the bill’s definition of essential work includes any work conducted at outpatient clinics without any restrictions on those working at abortion clinics. It is disheartening enough that some liberal states have deemed abortion as an essential service, but pro-abortion members of Congress providing bonus pay for abortion clinic workers—while millions of Americans remain unemployed—takes abortion extremism to a whole new level.
  • Appropriates nearly $1 trillion in funds to state and local governments so they can continue conducting tests, providing essential equipment, and treating patients suffering from coronavirus. There is bipartisan support for such funding. However, the funding proposed in the Heroes Act has very limited restrictions on usage. This means liberal states like California and New York can use the federal funds to cover budget shortfalls they created by funding Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Just a few months before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S, the Illinois legislature appropriated millions of dollars for abortion facilities that provide family planning services.
  • Provides several tax subsidies for employers that can be used to pay for health plans that cover abortion. In particular, it would provide a full subsidy for COBRA health premiums, a current program which allows the recently unemployed to remain on an employer health care plan. This subsidy would violate the principles of the Hyde Amendment by directly subsidizing employer health care plans that cover abortion. 
  • Makes substantive changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP was designed to help small businesses and nonprofits seek immediate financial relief, and many churches and religious nonprofits have been able to access the program. Large nonprofits that perform abortions are currently ineligible for the PPP because of the 500-employee limit. Instead of expanding the program to include larger charitable organizations, House Democrats prioritized making an exception for abortion providers.

Undermines Marriage and Family

  • The bill deconstructs the idea of family with the same language that some had attempted to insert into the paid family and sick leave program in the Phase 2 coronavirus relief bill. While the language in this bill doesn’t include “domestic partnership” in a definition of “spouse,” it uses multiple definitions to try and achieve the same effect. The bill amends paid leave requirements to include paid sick leave for family members including “domestic partners.” This greatly waters down the significance of the family structure and renders the word “family” virtually meaningless.
  • Redefines “sex” in the context of sex discrimination to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and medical conditions related to pregnancy. This is the same language that appeared in the infamous Equality Act the House passed last year, which would have redefined civil rights laws in a manner inconsistent with biological realities and forced organizations to provide abortions. The language would apply to this bill and the other relief bills that have already become law, such as the Cares Act.
  • Establish diversity and outreach programs that specifically prioritize gender and sexual minorities. Further, the bill would create a designated suicide hotline that politicizes the meaning of sex. An excessive focus on sexual minority status is misplaced, given the existence of other high-risk groups and risk factors such as underlying mental illness.

Additional Progressive Priorities

Partisan policies have no place in legislation intended to address a pandemic. In addition to the aforementioned provisions that seek to undermine the sanctity of human life and the family, the Heroes Act includes:

  • Provisions propping up the notion of hate crimes, which FRC has consistently opposed because they undercut freedom of expression. Hate crimes are essentially “thought” crimes, and hate crime laws punish the accused for a perceived prejudice against the victim. This is reinforced by the bill’s addition of “alternate sentencing” to existing hate crimes law, which will allow courts to order “educational classes” to correct the defendant’s alleged prejudice. Thoughts are not criminal; only actions are, and the First Amendment protects all expression, even that with which we disagree. Existing criminal law categories are sufficient to address the interests of justice without straying into the dangerous territory of trying to eradicate the thoughts of our citizens. 
  • Language taken straight out of the SAFE Banking Act, a policy that would legitimize the marijuana industry by granting them access to capital and other banking services. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement, “The word ‘cannabis’ appears in this bill 68 times. More times than the word ‘job’ and four times as many as the word ‘hire.’” Reducing current federal restrictions on marijuana would, among other things, give money laundering access to international drug cartels who are already using marijuana legalization as a cover, and would radically increase investment in the marijuana industry.
  • A second round of stimulus checks with a change to allow illegal immigrants without a social security number to be eligible. Republicans led an effort to amend this policy, but came up just short of amending this language before final passage.
  • An extension of the $600 per week unemployment insurance increase through January 2021, allowing some individuals to continue collecting more money on unemployment than they would working. This perverse incentive to work was raised by Senate Republicans during the debate of the CARES Act, and now as the economy starts to open could have even more lasting impacts on the value and dignity of work.
  • Long-term changes that reshape the way elections are conducted in a way that favors Democrat candidates. This bill would require 15 days of early voting for federal elections and absentee vote by mail ballots for all voters. It would also mandate that all voters can register the same day, both in-person and online. Not long ago, many Democrats were highly concerned about fraud and interference in the 2016 election. Now, they are seeking to mandate mail-in ballots and online registration, policies that can put election security at risk.

Unfortunately, the present national health emergency has not united Congress to help our country. Congressional Democrats have shown time and time again that they would rather score political points than help our country through this pandemic. As Congress continues to consider what steps may be necessary to provide additional relief to the health care system and economy, FRC will remain vigilant in protecting faith, family, and freedom.

Congressional Support for Communities of Faith Pays off for Churches

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

May 12, 2020

Congressional programs designed to help the faith community rarely work as intended. But the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), one of the signature policies in the CARES Act, appears to be one of those rare successes.

The PPP was created to provide financial relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations (with fewer than 500 employees) whose finances have been strained by the economic fallout of the coronavirus. With most in-person church services temporarily suspended due to social distancing requirements, 40 percent of pastors report decreased giving, and 18 percent say donations have been cut in half. But now, thanks to the PPP, many churches—as well as small businesses and other nonprofit organizations—are able to keep the lights on and employees paid.

Initially, there was some concern that existing small business loan regulations (which excluded religious-based organizations) would render churches ineligible for the PPP. Thankfully, a bipartisan group of members of Congress led by Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.) sent a letter to the Departments of Treasury and Labor and the Small Business Administration (SBA), clarifying that Congress intended to allow churches and religious nonprofits access to these loans. Subsequently, SBA issued guidance to ensure that lenders would not discriminate against the loan applications of faith-based organizations. The guidance also clarifies that churches would not be sacrificing their autonomy or First Amendment-protected religious freedom by accepting government funds.

Shortly after the PPP’s second round of funding commenced, it was discovered that thousands of churches had applied for and received these loans. Out of the roughly 12,000 Catholic parishes that applied for the PPP loans, an estimated 9,000 received funds. In a recent LifeWay survey, two in five Protestant pastors said they applied for loans, and approximately 59 percent of them were approved. Additionally, the Jewish Federations of America announced that 573 Jewish organizations, including 219 synagogues, received loans.

The efforts by members of Congress and the Trump administration to ensure churches have access to essential financial assistance—thereby saving some of them from laying off employees or closing altogether—should not be overlooked. When crafting the largest economic relief package in American history, instead of forgetting about churches or actively trying to exclude them from economic relief, these political leaders prioritized faith-based organizations. They realized that churches, in addition to running religious services, often employ staff to operate schools, food banks, and other services that play a vital role in American society, especially during a crisis like the current coronavirus pandemic.

This is one more item on the ever-growing list of actions the Trump administration has taken to promote religious freedom.

Let’s Restore Government Neutrality When it Comes to “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion”

by Arina Grossu

January 29, 2014

Yesterday, the House debated, voted, and passed HR7 227-188-1. HR7 is a bill that will restore government neutrality when it comes to “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion”. Since the Hyde Amendment’s passage in 1976, it has been status quo that no federal monies may be used to pay for abortions. Obamacare created a loophole that bypasses the Hyde Amendment. HR7 seeks to make the Hyde Amendment permanent so that there is no government funding for abortion or funding for health care coverage that includes abortion. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said, “The American people do not want their hard-earned money to destroy human life… Our government should not be in the business of subsidizing abortion.” She is right. Americans should not be forced to pay for the destruction of children.

In a frenzied attempt Planned Parenthood sent out an action alert asking Members to vote against HR7. Pro-abortion supporters called HR7 a “radical Republican assault on women’s rights”. This is just typical emotional rhetoric about “women’s rights”. However, by law women will continue to be able to get abortions. HR7 simply continues to ensure that my money and yours will not be used to pay for other people’s abortions, a provision that has been upheld for the last 38 years.

Homosexual Agenda is Low PriorityEven for Democrats

by Peter Sprigg

July 13, 2010

Not only are the Obama administration and the Pelosi-led Democrats in Congress out of step with the American public in giving high priority to pushing a radical homosexual agenda, but they are out of step with their own Democratic base. Thats the message of a recent, admittedly unscientific survey conducted by The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC). Heres how they described the survey:

More than 2,000 Democratic supporters offered input, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia… . Respondents were asked to rank how important a series of issues were to them. The issues were: Fully Funding Public Schools, Expanding Environmental Protections and Clean Energy, Strengthening Government Ethics Rules, Promoting Job Growth, and Promoting Equal Rights for the LGBT Community.

The results? All five issues were rated “extremely important” by a majority of respondents—except for LGBT “Equal Rights,” which got that rating from only 47.3%. By contrast, over 80% of respondents rated Public Education as extremely important. The homosexual agenda even had 19.3% of these Democratic activists dismissing it with replies of “not very important” (7.9%), “not important at all” (5.6%), or “no answer” (5.8%). Only 5.6% were as negative toward education as a priority.

We can only hope Congressional leadership will take this into account in determining whether to make homosexuals in the military and ENDA a priority in the tight legislative calendar between now and next January, when the new Congress takes office.

Democrats 2010 Legislative Priorities Survey

Legislative Wake-up Call in the States

by Cynthia Hill

April 14, 2010

If you think legislation on the federal level has gone haywire, take a minute to check out whats going on in state governments through FRCs State Legislation Tracker. The present 38 issue profiles currently track 7469 bills of concern. A breakdown of the results (listed below) provides a telling glimpse into the “state of the states” and the subsequent health of our nation. That the top five profiles include domestic violence (2146), gambling (1346), divorce reform (827), and pornography (728 total, 325 dedicated to child pornography alone) should be a serious wake-up call for all Americans.

Whether or not current liberals and progressives approve, Americas Founders understood from historical perspective that their new government must be rooted in Judeo-Christian tenets. Nothing less resilient and enduring could contribute the ongoing stability required for individuals, families and national industry to flourish in the long term. The following contemporary indicators mandate that we re-examine those pro-family factors that precipitated Americas success, and work aggressively at the state and local level to re-introduce and re-implement them.

Numbers of bills (see here a drill-down on each issue):

  • Abortion - Fetal Pain 5
  • Abortion - Parental Notification - 38
  • Abortion - Ultrasound Bills - 60
  • Abortion Alternatives - Pregnancy Care Centers -18
  • Adoption - By Traditional Family - 551
  • Adoption - By Unmarried or Same-Sex Couples - 44
  • Bathroom Bills - Gender Expression & Same-Sex Issues - 185
  • Conscience Regulations - 4
  • Cord Blood - 62
  • DADT - Military Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ - 13
  • DOMA - Defense of Marriage Act - 2
  • Domestic Violence - 2146
  • Eminent Domain - 1340
  • ENDA - Employment Non-Discrimination Act - 3
  • Gambling - 1346
  • Hate Crimes - 27
  • Health Care - States’ Response to Obamacare - 176
  • Homeschool - 341
  • Human Cloning - 149
  • Human Eggs - 8
  • Human Trafficking - 255
  • Jessica’s Law - 5
  • Life Issues - 23
  • Marriage - Divorce Reform - 877
  • Marriage - Marriage Protection Amendments -12
  • Pornography: Child - 325
  • Pornography: General - 403
  • Public Education: Bullying Bills - General - 28
  • Public Education: Bullying Bills - Pro-Homosexual Agenda - 41
  • Public Education: Discrimination Free Zones - 1
  • Public Education: Sex Education - 7
  • Religious Liberty - 29
  • Reproductive Health - 9
  • Same-Sex Marriage - 493
  • Sexual Predators - 60
  • Statutory Rape - 69
  • Stem Cell Research - Adult - 17
  • Stem Cell Research - Embryonic - 37

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