This week House passed HR7 to permanently authorize the Hyde Amendment. The final vote was 238-183, largely along party lines. See how your representative voted:
NV-CD1, Dina Titus ………………………………. NAY
NV-CD2, Mark Amodei …………………………… AYE
NV-CD3, Jacky Rosen ……………………………. NAY
NV-CD4, Ruben Kihuen ………………………….. NAY
Heard of the Hyde Amendment? It prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion or health plans that cover abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger. Currently, it’s not a permanent law but rather a “rider” that’s been included in annual appropriations bills since 1976. This version, however, takes Hyde one step further by prohibiting “employer plans” from being able to carry coverage for abortions, because employers receive a tax break for the healthcare plans they offer to their employees.
What happens now?HR7 heads to the Senate. Let Senator Heller and Senator Cortez Masto know what you think!
H.R. 2577 is a conglomeration of a number of bills (Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017) that the Senate needs to take action on failed a super-majority vote (60 votes) for cloture (the ability to be considered and voted for/against on the Senate floor). One version of that bill was passed by the House and a different version of that/those bills passed the Senate. Thus, it’s now gone to conference committee to work out the wrinkles between the two versions.
This conference agreement now includes the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017, the Zika Response and Preparedness Appropriations Act, 2016, the Zika Vector Control Act, and an unacceptable ‘division’ on funds to be rescinded from programs the Republicans don’t particularly like. That’s what came to the floor for a cloture vote, and it failed miserably — 52-48.
Really, Senator McConnell? It’s too difficult for the general public to understand? I don’t think so.
It’s one thing for Republicans to short-change President Obama’s funding request. It’s another thing to start attaching ‘poison pills’ to the proposed legislation that limit or outright prohibit women’s choices. When you introduce a funding proposal that limits the distribution of contraceptives and that prevents family planning organizations like Planned Parenthood from participating in the effort to help women in Zika-affected areas delay pregnancy, from a disease that not just contracted from a mosquito bite, but from sexual activity with an infected male partner, did you really think that Senate Democrats would just roll over and vote for that?
When you start gutting provisions of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, did you honestly believe that Democrats would just roll over and just vote for that?
SEC. 2. MOSQUITO CONTROL WAIVER. Notwithstanding section 402 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1342), during the 180 day period following the date of enactment of this Act the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (or a State, in the case of a permit program approved under subsection (b)) shall not require a permit for a discharge from the application by an entity authorized under State or local law, such as a vector control district, of a pesticide in compliance with all relevant requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.) to control mosquitos or mosquito larvae for the prevention or control of the Zika virus.
When you start stripping funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), did you really expect Democrats to just roll over, see the light and vote your way? Or, when you decide to fund your bill by stripping balances from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, did you really expect Democrats to go “oh yeah, that’s a great idea” and vote in favor of your bill? Or better yet, given that we already know that you stripped a bunch of funding from the State Department for Embassy security that might have made the outcome in Benghazi drastically different, did you really expect the Senate Democrats to let you strip even more funding for the State Department and other Foreign Operations?
Are you nuts? They certainly weren’t and neither am I. It took me hours to sort through all the links on Congress.gov, but here’s what I found:
DIVISION D–RESCISSIONS OF FUNDS
Sec. 101. (a) $543,000,000 of the unobligated amounts made available under section 1323(c)(1) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (42 U.S.C. 18043(c)(1)) is rescinded immediately upon enactment of this Act.
Sec. 1323. Community health insurance option. Requires the Secretary to offer a Community Health Insurance Option as a qualified health plan through Exchanges. Allows States to enact a law to opt out of offering the option. Requires the option to cover only essential health benefits; States may require additional benefits, but must defray their cost. Requires the Secretary to set geographically adjusted premium rates that cover expected costs. Requires the Secretary to negotiate provider reimbursement rates, but they must not be higher than average rates paid by private qualified health plans. Subjects the option to State and Federal solvency standards and to State consumer protection laws. Establishes a Start-Up Fund to provide loans for initial operations, to be repaid with interest within 10 years. Authorizes the Secretary to contract with nonprofits for the administration of the option.
(b) $100,000,000 of the unobligated balances available in the Nonrecurring expenses fund established in section 223 of division G of Public Law 110-161 (42 U.S.C. 3514a) from any fiscal year is rescinded immediately upon enactment of this Act.
DIVISION G–DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 Title I–Department of Labor Title II–Department of Health and Human Services Title III–Department of Education Title IV–Related Agencies Title V–General Provisions Title VI–National Commission on Children and Disasters
(c) $107,000,000 of the unobligated balances of appropriations made available under the heading Bilateral Economic Assistance, Funds Appropriated to the President, Economic Support Fund in title IX of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015 (division J of Public Law 113-235) is rescinded immediately upon enactment of this Act: Provided, That such amounts are designated by the Congress as an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
Personally, I side with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid who declared, “It is unbelievable that somebody would have the audacity to come to the floor and say it’s Democrats’ fault. A significant amount of American women, especially young women, go to Planned Parenthood, and the Republicans want to say, ‘you can’t do that.’” Why indeed would Democrats not just prohibit Planned Parenthood from providing any services, but gut the EPA’s ability to assure clean water and harm HHS’s ability to manage health insurance options for not just Puerto Ricans, but millions of American families across our nation? Apparently Sen. McConnell completely missed the irony of claiming to improve women’s health by prohibiting and defunding health opportunities for women altogether.
Senate Republicans are leaving women in limbo on several crucial issues.
— by Martha Burk, OtherWords.org author
Senators, constitutional scholars may tell you, must “advise and consent” on the president’s Supreme Court nominees. But apparently the official GOP policy is to “refuse and obstruct.” They’ve vowed not even to give President Obama’s nominees a vote.
These Republicans claim that leaving the Supreme Court understaffed is no big deal. Well, it’s certainly a big deal for women. Pending cases on abortion, birth control, education, and public employee unions are all sitting before a divided court.
The scariest case is Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole.
It’s a challenge to a Texas law that would close all but about 10 abortion clinics in the state — down from more than 40 — by requiring them to essentially become mini-hospitals. They’d have to employ only doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a regulation almost unheard of for safe and common procedures like abortion.
Since an appeals court upheld the requirements, a 4-4 deadlock on the Supreme Court would give Texas the green light to enforce them. And it would almost certainly encourage other states to enact similar laws.
On the birth control front, the court will consider Zubik v. Burwell. A successor to the Hobby Lobby case, it’s an argument over whether religiously affiliated institutions have to observe the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employer-provided health plans cover birth control.
These groups are allowed to avoid the requirement by filling out a form, in which case the government will arrange with their insurer to cover their employees. A few of these groups are claiming that still makes them complicit in sinful conduct.
A 4-4 tie at the Supreme Court would be a mixed bag, since most — but not all — appeals court decisions have upheld the accommodation as not burdensome to religious practice.
Meanwhile, established labor law is on the line in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, where the court will consider whether public employees who choose not to join unions can still be required to pay fees for collective bargaining activities. A decision against the unions could mortally wound them.
According to the National Women’s Law Center, women are the majority of the public sector workforce, and the wage gap with their male counterparts is smaller for public union women than non-union women. The lower court favored the unions, so a tie would stave off a major blow to their viability. But that’s still a lot to risk.
Women are now also the majority of college students, and women of color could be greatly affected by a decision in Fisher v. University of Texas. In that case, the court will decide whether the school’s race‑conscious admissions program violates the Constitution’s equal protection principles.
Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself. So if the Senate leaves Scalia’s seat unfilled, the case will be decided by seven justices — which means there can be no tie. Three judges — John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito — oppose affirmative action, and a fourth, Anthony Kennedy, has previously expressed doubts about the University of Texas policy.
So what’s the score?
In four cases affecting women the most, two could go in women’s favor with tie votes. A third tie vote would go against women, and a 4-3 conservative majority would hurt them in the final case as well.
However you score it, Senate Republicans are leaving women in limbo until a new justice is chosen and new cases can be brought. That could take years. Women — and the country — deserve better.
Martha Burk is the director of the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) and the author of the bookYour Voice, Your Vote: The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Power, Politics, and the Change We Need. Follow Martha on Twitter @MarthaBurk.
US Capitol police officers line-up in front of pro-abortion rights demonstrators on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, at the Supreme Court in Washington.
A looming Supreme Court case that could severely undermine the right to an abortion has attracted an unprecedented amount of opposition from across the country.
A slew of organizations and individuals filed 45 legal briefs in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, each brief examining the case through a unique lens and each coming to the same conclusion: State laws that restrict abortion access are unconstitutional.
The case will examine the validity of a Texas law, known as HB2, that places burdensome, unnecessary guidelines on the state’s dwindling abortion clinics. These regulations, while framed as improvements to safeguard “women’s health,” ultimately have nothing to do with patient safety — and were instead created by anti-abortion legislators to impose additional, costly red tape on clinic staff. So far, it’s been successful. HB2 has already forced half of the state’s clinics to close, thus cutting Texas’ abortion providers in half.
The Supreme Court case, Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, won’t only decide if Texas’ law is constitutional. Depending how the court rules, the decision could also give legal cover to all states seeking to enact laws that appear to function as health regulations, but that actually exist to restrict access to abortion. The oral arguments for the case begin in March.
Reproductive rights advocates have been outspoken since HB2 passed in 2013, but since the Supreme Court’s November decision to hear the case, the diversity of opponents has grown. The 45 briefs were filed by a variety of petitioners, including physicians, historians, religious leaders, military officers, scientists, members of Congress, civil rights advocates, law scholars, entire cities, and the United States federal government itself.
“Never before has such a diverse array of organizations and leaders…stepped forward to condemn abortion restrictions at the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement.
Among the briefs were voices of actual women who’ve been affected by the lack of abortion access in the past — a voice some say is forgotten in the high-level case.
“The Supreme Court justices need to hear the real effects of restrictive abortion laws on women like this one in Texas,” said Debra Hauser, the president of Advocates for Youth, a group helping young people access comprehensive sexual health education. Hauser shared her personal experience with abortion in her organization’s brief.
“What is missing from this issue are our personal stories. The reality is that one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime.”
Many of those women shared their stories in another brief submitted Tuesday, representing 110 law professionals who’ve had abortions. Some noted how they would have never had the chance to become a lawyer if they hadn’t had an abortion when they did.
“[Our] experiences demonstrate the real world effects of abortion access on the lives and careers of women attorneys, and underscore the truth of the court’s observation that reproductive choice facilitates women’s ability ‘to participate in the economic and social life of the nation,’” the brief reads.
According to Northup, the briefs represent the largest coalition of faith leaders and faith organizations ever to oppose anti-choice laws at the Supreme Court level. In the legal brief filed by a large collection of different religious leaders, the petitioners stress their support of abortion access — despite efforts from more radical religious organizations to say otherwise.
“As religious leaders and pastoral counselors, [we] provide spiritual guidance to women facing this decision and believe that this complex decision is ultimately a moral one,” the brief reads. “While various religious groups in this country hold differing views on abortion, there is substantial agreement that women have a moral right to make their own decisions on the issue.”
A group of 40 prominent scientists also submitted a brief Tuesday, hoping to overrule the “flawed pseudoscience” that will be used in testimony to support the case.
“We hope the court is able to put abortion politics aside and focus on the illegitimacy of the medical claims propping up the restrictions,” said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. “When science claims are used to infringe a constitutional right they had better be valid, but that’s not the case here.”
A Tuesday press call drew a variety of opponents together, including Wendy Davis, the former Texas state senator who led an 11-hour filibuster in an attempt to defeat HB2, and Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards, to further illustrate the severity of this case. Jessica González-Rojas, the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, also spoke on the call, representing the women already harmed the most by the current Texas law.
“For immigrants, mothers, low-wage workers, and Latinas who are all three, securing an abortion means navigating a state-created obstacle course,” she said. “Those unable to jump through these hoops will be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or take matters into their own hands.”
The legal briefs filed, which represent more than 1,000 opponents in total, may shine more light on the broader impact the pending case could have on women across the country — an impact that has already left Texas in a health crisis.
“These briefs present a thorough record of the undeniable damage Texas’ sham law has,” concluded Northup. “It will continue to cause, and an indisputable legal argument for why it must be struck down.”
For Immediate Release
Janurary 6th, 2015
Contact: Dave Chase, (702) 350-2744
— Ruben Kihuen, State Senator and candidate for U.S. Congress (NV-04), released the following statement after Congressman Cresent Hardy voted for the 6th time to repeal the Affordabl Card Act and the 5th time to defund Planned Parenthood:
“Congressman Hardy and Congressional Republicans should be ashamed of their obsession with taking this country’s health care system backwards and attacking women’s health care. Americans deserve better.”
2016: HR 3762, Vote#6 — Today, Rep. Hardy (CD4), along with Representatives Mark Amodei (CD2) and Joe Heck (CD3) voted to effectively gut the Affordable Care Act by repealing/defunding the bulk of provisions of this bill as well as prohibiting any/all funding for Planned Parenthood
2015: Hardy Voted Five Times To Defund Planned Parenthood. In 2015, Hardy voted five times to attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, in part or whole. [HR 3134, Vote #504, 9/18/15; Democratic Leader – Motions To Recommit, 9/18/15; HR 3134, Vote #505, 9/18/15; Washington Post, 9/18/15; HR 3495,Vote #524, 9/29/15; Duffy Press Release, 9/29/15; H Con Res 79, Vote #527, 9/30/15; CQ Floor Votes, 9/30/15; HR 3762, Vote #568, 10/23/15; Fox News,10/23/15]
Hardy Voted To Create Panel To Investigate Planned Parenthood. In October 2015, Hardy voted “to create a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood and the handling of aborted fetal tissue, all but ensuring an already-fierce partisan battle will continue into 2016. In a nearly party-line vote, lawmakers voted 242 to 184 to establish a 13-member committee with broad power to investigate wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood amid allegations that it has tried to profit from the sale of aborted tissue.” [H Res 461, Vote #538, 10/07/15; The Hill, 10/07/15]
Voted To Implement Nevada State Health Exchange. Hardy voted in favor of a bill that “creates the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange to provide services relating to the purchase and sale of health insurance by residents and certain employers in this State …, [which] is required to create and administer a state-based health insurance exchange, facilitate the purchase and sale of qualified health plans, provide for the establishment of a program to help certain small employers in Nevada in facilitating the enrollment of employees in qualified health plans, and perform all other duties that are required of it pursuant to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 and any amendments to or regulations or guidance issued pursuant to those acts” The bill passed 38-0. [SB440, 6/04/11; Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/08/14]
Cited Nevada Health Link As Example Of Bipartisanship. In September 2014, the Desert Valley Times wrote, “Hardy touted his bipartisan work in getting legislation passed, which will allow him to go straight to Congress and get things done and he vowed to continue to do that. Hardy cited his vote for the state-run Nevada Health Link, the exchange for the health reform law, as an example. He said he voted for it to keep it as much in the state’s hands as possible and keep the federal government out of it. ‘Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out,’ he said.” [Desert Valley Times, 9/25/14]
State Senator Ruben Kihuen is running as a Democrat in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District. Ruben has a proven record of real results for working families. Born in Mexico, Ruben and his family immigrated to the United States in search of a better life. He worked his way through college and after graduation was inspired to “pay it forward” by working with other students at College of Southern Nevada. In the legislature, Ruben helped craft landmark bi-partisan bills increasing funding for our schools and making college more affordable, and he beat back a reckless Republican agenda attempting to dismantle worker’s rights, restrict women’s health care and repeal LGBTQ protections. Ruben is running for Congress to ensure everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream.