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COVID Relief Sees Senate Gridlock

Tony Perkins · Sep. 12, 2020

Judging by Democrat obstruction of the recent Senate vote on the latest coronavirus relief package, it’s not COVID-19 on their minds, but this upcoming election season. As Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) observed on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins, Democrats had no interest in supporting a bill which would have brought constructive relief to American across the country, instead almost uniformly voting against the half-trillion dollar bill, which fell short of the 60-vote procedural threshold when it failed 52-47.

“I think it’s more and more clear of the Democrats in the Senate,” Senator Blunt said, and in particular “the minority leader, [who] has decided that chaos is his friend, that the more we can put obstacles in the way of moving forward, I think he thinks that enhances the chance that Democrats may take over the Senate. I think people are going to see through that.”

Rather than support this appropriately tailored bill with policies like tax breaks, incentives, and protections for private schools and homeschooling, liability protections for churches along with other entities and businesses, and an increase in the charitable deduction limit (so Americans can give more to relief efforts around the country), Democrats banded together to block the bill.

Such obstructionism is more keenly felt as schools and education systems are trying to reopen around the country.

As Senator Blunt noted, the bill would have particularly helped educational opportunity by providing money for private and religious schools: “We had language in there that would have some tax benefits for private school families. We had language in that bill that assured that every private school kid would get a fair share of money that went to a state … .”

The provisions Senator Blunt was referring to include tax credits and grants such as emergency education freedom grants, tax credits for contributions to eligible scholarship-granting organizations, education freedom scholarships, and 529 account funding for homeschool and additional elementary and secondary expenses. In addition, the relief bill had provided that it would not “permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any Federal control over any aspect of any private, religious, or home education provider.”

At the end of the day, none of this mattered to Democrats. As Senator Blunt reminded us, they were only interested in a “three trillion dollar bill” with “everything you might expect to happen if Democrats got in control of the Congress and the country.” As Senator Blunt’s recognized: “There was some money in here for the small businesses that are being hurt” – but that doesn’t matter to Senate Democrats. If they had actually negotiated in good faith, “we could quickly agree on most of the elements that get people back to school, back to work and back to better health if our colleagues on the other side wanted to.”

Now, this must wait for another day. For now, as long as the economy remains in lockdown and Democrat leadership continues obstructing economic and other relief, the picture will remain bleak and the future somewhat unknown.

Originally published here.

SPLC Ties Elicit More Frowns for Amazon

Last week, over one hundred Jewish rabbis wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, arguing “the SPLC ‘hate map’ is uniquely detrimental and even dangerous to the Jewish community.” The Amazon Smile program relies on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to determine which charities qualify for donations.

While the SPLC has a well-established reputation as one of the most anti-Christian organizations in America after its “hate map” inspired a 2012 shooting at Family Research Council, this is the first time that the Jewish community has publicly spoken out about the danger the SPLC poses to them.

Rabbi Yaakov Menken explained in an interview on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins that the SPLC displays a “very apparent bias to mask anti-Semitism coming from certain left-wing groups, especially those groups affiliated with radical Islam.”

In their letter, the rabbis expressed their concern with, “the SPLC’s inexplicable omission of groups which ally with international terror organizations, openly glorify murder under the guise of ‘resistance,’ and frequently descend into clearly anti-Semitic expression. The SPLC specifically avoids identifying radical Islamic groups as the leading source of modern-day anti-Semitic violence.”

The SPLC classifies groups based on what they supposedly “hate,” but they show their bias by having no category for anti-Semitism. This omission is so glaring that SPLC has found it necessary to try and explain it away in their FAQs. Although they claim anti-Semitic groups are all included in other categories (neo-Nazis and the like), this is just a façade they hope will allow them to overlook radical Islamic violence entirely. The rabbis’ letter sets the record straight: “more Jews have been murdered in the past 50 years due to radical Islamic terror organizations than all those groups that the SPLC does mention – combined. This level of dishonesty directly endangers the Jewish community.”

The SPLC doesn’t stop at ignoring Islamic violence against Jews. They pro-actively partner with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to identify what passes as “Islamophobia.” But as the letter points out, the FBI and a federal judge found that CAIR “once conspired to provide material support to Hamas, an internationally-recognized terrorist group with beliefs rooted in radical Islam and genocidal anti-Semitism written into its charter.”

Based on who they label as “hate groups,” the SPLC must believe “Christians can only incite hate, and Muslims can only be its victims,” said the letter. Rabbi Menken called it a “stunning blind spot.”

In 2019, top SPLC leaders were forced to resign after dozens of employees signed a letter alleging “mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism” persisted within the organization. Menken said that the SPLC has gone off mission. While he said they started out doing good work by rooting out the KKK and other hate groups, “they’ve exploited the goodwill of the public.” Now, he said, they have “decided that promoting a certain ideology is more important to them than fighting hate.”

But the SPLC’s anti-Semitism goes even further. The SPLC classifies pro-Jewish groups as anti-Muslim. This has the effect of allowing anti-Semitic groups to receive funding through Amazon Smile and other partnering programs, while at the same time, “they stop funding for our allies,” said Menken.

Amazon did nothing after fifteen members of Congress wrote in August, alerting Bezos about the SPLC’s anti-conservative and anti-Christian bias. Whether they will be more sensitive to the petition from these 100 rabbis remains to be seen.

The rabbis’ concluded their letter with this plea: “On behalf of the Jewish community and all who share concern for our lives and safety, we urge you to immediately terminate any association between Amazon Smile and the SPLC.”

Originally published here.

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

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