Rumors were rampant that both the House and Senate would adjourn early in anticipation of tight election races. The rumors proved true, as Congress voted to recess late on Wednesday evening, September 29, 2010. Members will meet again the week of November 15; in the meantime, all focus is on campaigns and elections.
The Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization bill, instead of focusing on our armed forces, included three especially contentious provisions. The bill included a repeal of the 1993 law banning homosexuals from serving openly in the military, a provision to allow abortion on overseas and domestic military installations, and a measure to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16.
The Democratic leadership quickly shut down debate and filled the “amendment tree” so that no Republican amendments could be introduced or considered. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) moved to take a procedural vote to invoke cloture on the bill on Tuesday, September 21, in an effort to begin the debate on the DOD authorization. The Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to proceed to the bill. The final vote on cloture was 56 Yes and 43 No. All Republicans plus Democrats Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas) and Mark Pryor (Arkansas) voted against cloture.
This means the DOD Authorization bill will not be considered until after the November elections. It’s uncertain if Senator Reid will try to bring the Defense Authorization or amnesty provision (the so-called DREAM Act) to the Floor. CWA will continue to ask Senators to focus on things like funding our troops, not on granting amnesty to illegal immigrants or using the armed forces as a petri dish for liberal social policies.
On September 23, 2010, Senator Reid brought the controversial DISCLOSE Act, which failed to get 60 votes back in July, to the floor again for another cloture vote. The vote failed again, with 59 Yes votes. It was scarily close, but thankfully the bill was not able to proceed. The DISCLOSE Act would force organizations to disclose the names and information of their donors, risking putting them into harm’s way. CWA opposed the Act from its beginning and will continue to do so if it’s brought up again after the elections.
IVAWA (International Violence Against Women Act)
Concerned Women for America (CWA) had major concerns with IVAWA and opposed the legislation as it moved through the Senate. Our concerns included the undervaluing of marriage and family, the lack of pro-life language in the bill, the funding of programs which participate in China’s one-child policy of forcing abortions on women, and the increase of power given to the Secretary of State to oversee funds without oversight.
The Senate was scheduled to hold a committee vote on IVAWA on Wednesday, September 30, 2010, but the hearing was cancelled. We have heard that IVAWA will not be brought up later this year but we will continue to monitor this issue to ensure it does not come up during the lame duck session after the elections.
CWA Project 535 Lobby Day:
On Wednesday, September 29, 2010, Project 535 volunteers attended a legislative briefing and met with staffers in the House of Representatives to discuss H.R. 5939, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” Introduced by Representative Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), this important legislation would codify the pro-life “riders,” or language in legislation that prevents taxpayer funding of abortion. At present, Congress must renew the pro-life language each year, and Representative Smith’s bill would make it permanent.
The Project 535 volunteers met with both Republican and Democrat legislators who voted for the pro-life amendment to the health care bill but were not yet co-sponsors of H.R. 5939. They had great meetings with the offices, and staff from the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus reported that they heard from several offices wanting to co-sponsor. One Project 535 volunteer was even able to speak directly with Representative John Boccieri (D-Ohio) and heard from him personally that he would co-sponsor the bill.
H.R. 5939, as of the lobby day, has over 180 co-sponsors. Even pro-abortion congressmen recognize that a majority of Americans, whether pro-life or pro-abortion, oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.
CWA will continue to support this legislation and encourage co-sponsorship when Congress reconvenes. It is a crucial time to put forth effort on this issue, as radical feminist and pro-abortion groups already are fighting the bill. On Wednesday, September 22, 2010, the liberal Center for Reproductive Rights held a staff briefing in the House of Representatives entitled “Effects of Ban on Federal Funding for Abortion.” It was deeply disturbing to hear one of the speakers actually admit that, “Sometimes being a good mother means saying ‘no’ to a new life.” The group said that it will continue to fight to force taxpayers to pay for abortion.
Project 535 Lobby Days:
For future lobby days, the schedule is as follows:
October—No lobby day
November—No lobby day
December—No lobby day (Merry Christmas!)
Monday, January 24, 2010—Lobby day (scheduled for Monday to line up with March for Life)