The 111th Congress is lurching to a close. For many, this is a relief: it has done more damage and spent more money this year than anyone could have imagined was possible.
Pro-life and pro-family Members of Congress had a significant disadvantage during the 111th. They were in the minority of a Congress whose arrogant and corrupt liberal majority was backed by one of the most liberal presidents ever elected.
That liberal majority got back to work last January 2010 with an added haughtiness spawned by its success in imposing ObamaCare during the previous Christmas. But, did this make them invincible? Far from it.
The 2010 elections loomed, and November was a short 11 months away. Consequently, anyone who was up for re-election was held accountable by this reality. Every bad vote would haunt them as their opponents campaigned in the coming months.
This tended to work against the liberal majority with whom the American people now have a very strained relationship. Congress’ insistence on ramming ObamaCare through without a thought to legitimate legislative process, let alone the will of the people, left a bad taste in the mouth of the public.
It was up to Congress to tread very carefully. However, some of the most controversial items for the Obama administration and the Senate were the judicial nominations of 2010. Some of the most controversial nominees included Goodwin Liu, Dawn Johnsen, Louis Butler, Robert Chatigny, and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
Amazingly, three of these nominees were held up in committee and never made it to the full Senate for a vote. In the case of Robert Chatigny, nominated to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, this was largely due to concerns raised specifically by Concerned Women for America (CWA) and our members. Chatigny was a man who vigorously defended murderers and sexual sadists in court. Even liberal Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) sympathized with us on this issue and chose to vote “present” in committee rather than “aye”. Liu’s and Butler’s nominations passed through committee but were controversial enough to be held up there and never be considered for a vote.
Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court took up much of CWA’s time and effort, concerns being mainly her sympathy to and even advocacy of Sharia law as relevant to judicial cases in the United States. Her complete and utter disregard for our country’s national sovereignty made her unfit for the highest position in our judicial system. Unfortunately, her nomination passed, and she was appointed to the Supreme Court this year.
Other Obama nominations to key positions in his administration included Kevin Jennings, an open homosexual who now holds the office of Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. This man has direct ties to homosexual activist groups, including the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN, a group he founded which was once caught up in a scandal involving the teaching of a violently dangerous homosexual sex practice to young school children) and others and has been known to promote inappropriate reading lists to children in the schools he oversees.
President Obama also nominated Donald Berwick as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Berwick is a known advocate of universal health care and has had high praise for the United Kingdom’s deeply flawed universal health care system. He even referred to his ideal health care system as “redistributing wealth,” or a rationing of care. Despite massive controversy and outcry, the President gave Berwick a recess appointment on July 7, 2010.
There were other priorities of the Obama administration that were thwarted before they could even get off the ground.
ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), for instance, was introduced in the House and the Senate and was the topic of a hearing or two, but through the efforts of CWA and its members, it never came up for a vote.
Similarly, IVAWA, the International Violence Against Women Act, presents itself as a bill that could help protect women who are victims of violence. However, what IVAWA actually does is devalue marriage and the family and doesn’t get at the real root of the violence. Our concerns about IVAWA were raised by our members and, because of this pressure, it was scheduled several times for a vote and barely made it out of committee just before Congress adjourned.
S. 2925, a Senate bill addressing human trafficking by legalizing prostitution, saw a lot of last-minute activity in this legislative session. We worked to hold this bill in the Senate, and towards the end of the session, when nothing on Capitol Hill ever seems to go as expected, it was passed by unanimous consent. It then went to the House, where we were hopeful that the House would adjourn before they considered this bill. However, the House was waiting on the Senate to fund the government, so it started filling its calendar with legislation and this was one. When the House agreed to insert language and pass it on suspension, we knew that chances were slim to stop it in the Senate. Thankfully, we were able to get this bill held at the desk, and the Senate adjourned before it passed!
We also thwarted Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) efforts to pull a fast one in the House just after the Thanksgiving break. She put the Women’s Veterans Bill of Rights on the Suspension Calendar, which would have included funding for reproductive care and abortions. Our efforts ensured that Americans do not have to pay for abortions for veterans.
Another victory was that CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) treaty got a committee hearing, but never had a vote in committee or in the Senate at all. This hearing proved to be all show. Actress Geena Davis was even present to testify, but there was never enough legitimate support for the treaty to gain traction and get a vote. Our concerns with CEDAW include the fact that the United States will be held accountable to the treaty by a panel of countries such as China (the same China with the one-child policy that requires forced abortions for women) in order to ensure we are doing all we can to prevent discrimination against women. CWA has been the loudest voice in pointing out that the United States is already a leader in this area and that we should not be held accountable to outside nations with such shabby records in this regard. All American women share in our victory in preventing a vote on CEDAW.
On the heels of the midterm elections which gave conservatives significant gains in the Senate and the majority in the House, Congress began the race against the clock known as the “lame duck” session.
This term refers to politicians who have served their term and are on their way out. The term can be misleading, because while those politicians who are on their way out may not have a great amount of power, they have even less accountability. Politicians who are no longer campaigning and facing the reality of a reelection can and will – and did – vote irresponsibly. That was an especially dangerous reality during this “lame duck” session, when the number of outgoing legislators repudiated by voters in November was so high.
Congress attempted to pass the Defense Authorization Bill, but when the Senate Majority Leader attempted to call the vote on two different occasions, the measure failed. Attached to the Defense Authorization Bill was the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as well as the Burris Amendment, which would have allowed abortions to be performed on military bases. These two outrageous additions to a bill that should have been a clean funding of the military held up its passage. We helped to make that hold up possible: it was the only responsible thing to do for our fighting forces. When these two things were stripped from the bill, the Defense Authorization passed without a hitch toward the end of the lame duck session.
That embarrassment for the liberals did not stop them. Once repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was out of the Defense Authorization, the liberals decided to introduce it as a stand-alone bill at the eleventh hour. That bill passed both Houses of Congress and the President signed it into law just three days before Christmas. During the press conference to celebrate, the President questioned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): It is clear that the sanctity of marriage is in jeopardy and that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a huge factor in that.
Another measure that failed during the lame duck session was the DREAM Act, a back door amnesty bill that would grant automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants, with “children” defined as anyone up to the age of 35. Congress voted on the bill a week before Christmas, and it failed by a vote of 55-41.
Another huge issue for Americans was whether or not the Bush era tax cuts would be extended. Both sides of the aisle in Congress were able to reach a deal that allowed most of the tax cuts to be extended for at least two years. CWA fought long and hard to make sure that a few key things were addressed in this new tax bill:
· Adoption Tax Credit
· Child Tax Credit
· Death Tax
· Marriage Penalty
All of these were, in fact, addressed in the bill, and it passed in the House on a vote of 277-148 and the Senate by a vote of 81-19.
Though we experienced some serious setbacks, there is considerable reason to take heart. The voters held liberal Members of Congress accountable this year. We held up several key nominations indefinitely and thwarted the liberal agenda in Congress many times when liberals expected an easy vote. Such pro-family victories as we did win are due in large part to the valiant pro-family Members of Congress and you, the members of CWA. We look forward to the new, 112th Congress which will begin in the New Year with a strongly bolstered number of pro-family Members.