Right Opinion

Grassley Abandons Slip on Judges

Tony Perkins · Nov. 22, 2017

Don’t say we didn’t warn you, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told Democrats at a rocky Senate Judiciary meeting last week. When Democrats blew up the 225-year-old judicial confirmation rules in 2013, Grassley said they’d regret it. Now, four years later, the Left is finding out just how right he was.

Sure, clearing the way for a simple majority to rubber-stamp the president’s judges seemed like a good idea at the time. But now that the shoe is on the other foot, liberals suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of the same process they manipulated. Donald Trump certainly doesn’t mind. He’s been filling bench vacancies at lightning speed, shattering records set in much less partisan times. Now, left without the only weapon that could stop a confirmation — the filibuster — Democrats are grasping for anything to put the brakes on this high-speed train of nominees.

What they’ve settled on is a century-old tradition born out of common courtesy: the blue slip. Dating back to 1917, if a president nominated someone to the Senate, committee chairmen would send an evaluation form of sorts to the person’s home-town senators. They could return it, signaling their willingness to hold a hearing, or withhold it — usually grinding the progress on that nomination to a halt.

Desperate for leverage, liberal senators like Al Franken (MN), Ron Wyden (OR), Jeff Merkley (OR), and Tammy Baldwin (WI) have tried to use these blue slips as the obstructionist method du jour. There’s just one problem: The practice has never been an official Senate rule. Instead, it’s more of a gentlemanly agreement to give deference to the two leaders who may know the person in question best. So while senators have taken to withholding their blue slips in protest, there’s nothing stopping Sen. Grassley from moving forward without them.

And on Thursday, he promised to do just that. The longtime conservative announced to his colleagues that his patience has officially run out. “As I’ve said all along, I won’t allow the blue slip process to be abused. I won’t allow senators to prevent a Committee hearing for political or ideological reasons… The Democrats seriously regret that they abolished the filibuster, as I warned them they would. But they can’t expect to use the blue slip courtesy in its place. That’s not what the blue slip is meant for.”

The tradition was never created, Grassley went on, to be a home-state veto. And after Thanksgiving, he refuses to treat it like one. When the Senate flies back from Turkey Day, the Iowa Republican has already announced his plan to move on Eighth and Fifth Circuit Court nominees David Stras and Kyle Duncan. “I’ll add that I’m less likely to proceed on a district court nominee who does not have two positive blue slips from home state. But circuit courts cover multiple states. There’s less reason to defer to the views of a single state’s senator for such nominees.”

For President Trump, Grassley has been a perfect partner in accomplishing what most voters agreed was one of their biggest priorities: reshaping the federal judiciary. “When the history books are written about the Trump administration, the legacy will be the men and women confirmed to the trial bench,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) explained. And when that happens, some of the credit will almost certainly belong to leaders like Chuck Grassley.

Originally published here.

HHS Looks for Comment Ground on Faith

It’s been a long time since America has had a president who cared about faith-based groups! In two terms, the administration was more interested in punishing these organizations than partnering with them. That all changed under President Trump, who’s made it clear that churches and religious outreach are a vital part of America. Nowhere is that clearer than the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which leans on groups like Catholic Charities to help deliver everything from health care, food, and family support to addiction recovery and adoption placement.

But, like most agencies, HHS has spent the last several months trying to clean up the mess left behind by the Obama administration. And unfortunately, that includes eight years of hostility toward religious organizations. To help break down the walls built between faith-based groups and the government, HHS is asking Americans for suggestions in bridging the gap Obama built.

One of FRC’s biggest complaints has been the agency’s repeated attacks on organizations’ beliefs. We watched in horror when the Obama administration made support for same-sex marriage and abortion conditions of government contractors — and, in some cases, government funding. Then, there was the attack on pro-life medical providers who were forced to choose between their jobs and their moral convictions on procedures, drugs, and devices that can destroy human embryos. It’s time for those conscience rights regulations to be restored to everyone in the medical field.

Next, HHS can specifically enforce the Weldon Amendment, which stops government entities from discriminating against pro-life health care providers when it comes to elective abortion. Under the last administration, Obama’s HHS also conveniently reinterpreted that Weldon text, refusing to stop states like California (which receive federal funds) from mandating health care coverage of abortion, even for employees in churches. The government needs to hold these states accountable for violating the Weldon Amendment and harming pro-lifers.

Those are just a few examples of ways HHS can put the dark days of Obama’s radicalism behind them. Add your own before the deadline this Friday, Nov. 24! These and other changes would go a long way to restoring HHS to the community partners religious organizations have always counted on them to be. Click here to add your comments.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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