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A Flurry Over Funding in DC

Tony Perkins · Dec. 9, 2017

If federal workers were hoping for an early start to Christmas vacation, they’re out of luck! Thanks to Thursday’s continuing resolution (CR), no one’s turning off the government’s lights any time soon. For all of the Democrats’ big talk, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and company backed down long enough to let the GOP pass a two-week budget patch — keeping a government shutdown at bay at least until Dec. 22.

Up until Thursday morning, Pelosi had been adamant that Democrats would block any short-term budget extensions. “No” was her blunt answer to questions of whether the party would support a continuing resolution. That all changed after a trek to the White House, where she, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seemed to have a surprisingly cordial meeting with Donald Trump that softened the Democrats’ stance. “Well, we hope we can come to an agreement,” Schumer told reporters. “Funding the government is extremely important, helping our soldiers is very important, and helping average citizens is very important. So we’re here in the spirit of: let’s get it done.”

The group vented on some of the policy hotspots holding up negotiations — the military’s budget, for one, the reauthorization of a children’s health program, disaster relief for the hurricane-stricken states, and the Left’s push for blanket protections for kids brought to America illegally. Although they didn’t seem to strike any grand bargains (“Nothing specific has been agreed to,” Pelosi said later), both sides said the meeting was productive. Productive enough, it turns out, to get a short-term budget through the congressional pipeline 235-193 and 81-14 right afterward.

Of course, Democrats weren’t the only ones opposed to the funding bridge. Some of our conservative friends were anything but happy with the timeline. “I want to avoid a headline that says President Trump’s administration just passes the highest spending levels in U.S. history,” Congressman and House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) explained. “There will be zero support on numbers that are too high, regardless of anybody’s position on that.” He’s referring to the last several years, when Congress has waited until the last minute to pass a full slate of spending bills. Squeezed for time, they pass trillion-dollar appropriations packages that are longer than any Christmas list — and significantly more expensive.

Republicans had hoped to get the routine governing back on track, passing the 12 spending bills on a regular schedule. But that goal went out the window when neither party could agree on how much the government should spend this year. Defense hawks have been especially sensitive to the process, worrying that the military is getting short-shrifted by these temporary extensions. In some cases, it’s putting the brakes on critical supplies and equipment orders that commanders have been begging for. “For example,” the Washington Examiner points out, “America’s long-running wars have depleted the stockpiles of bombs and missiles used to battle the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. The new budget includes money to ramp up production of high-demand weapons to replenish the inventory, but as long as spending is frozen at last year’s levels, that initiative cannot begin.”

For some conservatives, like Ted Cruz (R-TX), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ben Sasse (R-NE), that was enough reason to vote no. For others, like Meadows and Republican Study Committee Chair Mark Walker (R-NC), who ultimately lent their support to the CR, the extra two weeks will be spent making sure that the House’s hard work on at least eight spending bills aren’t wasted. After all, conservatives would point out, Ryan’s chamber made huge strides on values issues that need to be addressed in whatever larger package Congress approves late this month, including some priorities that FRC aggressively worked on:

  • Conscience protections for pro-life health care entities that are forced to cover abortion in their plans.

  • A funding ban on Planned Parenthood and one on any fetal tissue research from aborted babies.

  • A reversal of DC’s assisted suicide policy.

  • Tighter congressional control over the D.C. budget to stop taxpayer-funded abortions and assisted suicides.

  • A ban on taxpayer-funded abortions for detainees at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

  • Elimination of both the Title X “family planning” program ($286 billion) and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program ($110 million) which both subsidize liberal sex education efforts and Planned Parenthood.

  • Cuts to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) that supports China’s coercive abortion policy.

  • And a $20 million boost in sexual risk avoidance (abstinence) funding.

It will be up to the GOP Congress to secure these victories when they revisit government funding in two weeks. Contact your leaders and urge them to make these pro-life goals a Christmas reality!

Originally published here.

Justice for Planned Parenthood?

These days, it seems like everyone’s investigating Planned Parenthood. And this week, you can add the Department of Justice to the list. Officials at DOJ tipped their hand in a formal letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Fox News reports. After years of covering up their wrongdoing, taxpayers are hoping this is finally the probe that takes them out of the federal funding stream.

Both the House (whose panel made criminal referrals) and Senate urged the FBI and DOJ to investigate Cecile Richards’s group last year. Thanks to the Trump administration, both are. “The Department of Justice … would like to request the Committee provide unredacted copies of records contained in the report, in order to further the Department’s ability to conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of that report based on the full range of information available,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to Senate Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA). “At this point, the records are intended for investigative use only — we understand that a resolution from the Senate may be required if the Department were to use any of the unredacted materials in a formal legal proceeding, such as a grand jury.”

The fact that the DOJ is even asking for this information shows that it’s serious about the investigation, which is good news for Americans. David Daleiden, whose string of undercover videos helped trigger Congress’s action, was hopeful that the two-track probe might finally bring Planned Parenthood to justice. “It’s time for public officials to finally hold Planned Parenthood and their criminal abortion enterprise accountable under the law,” the head of the Center for Medical Progress said.

Meanwhile, it’s incredible that the forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood continues, especially when both chambers of Congress agree that there’s been possible criminal activity. Thanks to David, we’ve heard some of it from the organization’s own mouths — as top-ranking employees mock, excuse, and callously confirm the ghoulish baby parts-for-profit scheme.

With the full weight of the government involved, Congress should refuse to give another cent of its over $400 million in annual federal funding to Planned Parenthood. The Republican-controlled Congress did this in 2015 on a reconciliation bill with 51 Senate votes. Barack Obama vetoed it, but with a pro-life president in the White House, it’s time to try again.

Originally published here.

Knocking Around the Christmas Tree…

Christmas is fine at the White House, but at grandma’s house? Well, that’s a different story. In Wilmington’s Lake Ridge Commons, renting an apartment doesn’t give you the right to decorate it. That’s what managers of Excel Properties told their seniors at the North Carolina living complex. In a head-scratching story that’s getting national attention, the president of the center is banning holiday decorations for their older residents.

“We had door decorating contests, wrapping paper covered doors, festive wreaths,” Leigh Bowser told WECT TV. “Now, Christmas is illegal. Any display of Christmas is banned.” The announcement was made by Excel President Ann Hanson, who told renters that the only thing welcome at Lake Ridge Commons is a Grinch. Insisting that some residents had “offended” their neighbors with their holiday displays, Hanson said signs of outdoor Christmas cheer wouldn’t be tolerated.

Outraged, residents banded together and sent a protest letter to management. They only doubled down, Fox News’s Todd Starnes reported. “Moving forward, we have been advised by our legal counsel to adhere to our lease to the fullest,” Hanson reiterated. Hoping to soften the blow, she offered a condescending this-is-for-your-own-good post script. This is “not intended to hurt the holiday season,” she insisted, “but to preserve it.” Preserve it where? In a dark closet?

On the opposite end of the age spectrum, college kids are constantly choking down a steady diet of political correctness. At the University of California-Irvine, forget Christmas. They wish you a merry non-religious specific day off of winter. And there are guidelines to make sure students don’t forget it. The list of pre-approved party themes are “Fall, Winter, or Spring.” “Focus on celebrating a special occasion instead of a specific holiday,” UC officials insist in their rules for “planning inclusive celebrations.”

NRO’s Katherine Timpf was more than a little annoyed by the policy. “If Christmas is the reason for the party, then it should be okay to do Christmas-like things to celebrate it. If the tree in question is a Christmas tree, then we should be able to call it that — because, well, that’s what it’s called. That really isn’t even a religious issue so much as it’s a vocabulary one.” But, she goes on, “Perhaps the most idiotic thing about UC-Irvine’s guidelines, though, is their advice to ‘ensure that office celebrations are not indirectly celebrating religious holidays.’ Um, that’s the purpose of your whole list! Literally all the list is doing is telling people how to have a Christmas party without making it seem like a Christmas party.”

Of course, the war against Christmas is as old as Jesus Himself. Take the wise men, for instance. They were as politically incorrect as it gets. In searching for Jesus, they went to the local government, of all places, hoping King Herod would share their joy. Boy were they wrong! Although he seemed accepting, secretly he wanted to kill the child. Fortunately, the magi were warned that Herod’s real agenda wasn’t worshiping Jesus — it was destroying Him. I guess some things never change.

Originally published here.

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

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