What did Congress do in the 107th Congress,
When Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT) switched parties on May 24, 2001, control of the U.S. Senate shifted to the Democrats. As a result, all Congressional action after that date was a compromise between the Administration and the Democratic Senate, largely bypassing the House. The Republican House passed 48 bills that the Senate refused to consider, and the Senate refused to confirm most of President Bushís nominees.
Defense, Foreign Policy, and Trade
On December 13, President Bush gave formal notice to Russia that the U.S. is withdrawing from the 30-year-old Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The ABM treaty, which was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1972 during the Cold War, has long been cited as the obstacle preventing America from building a national missile defense system. The Cold War is over and the Soviet Union is dead, but the threat of a missile attack still exists. If a rogue nation or terrorist organization launches a missile at the United States, our military does not have the capability of stopping it from reaching any American city. Our only choice would be to launch a missile back at our attackers, a policy known as mutual assured destruction (MAD). A Missile Defense program is moving forward, and Congress has appropriated $7.8 billion to begin building the system.
International Criminal Court (ICC)
This U.N. treaty negotiated in 1998 is dangerous to American sovereignty and puts U.S. citizens at risk. The ICC will not be required to provide Americans basic legal protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Despite numerous inherent flaws, President Clinton signed the ICC on December 31, 2000 but never submitted the treaty to the U.S. Senate for ratification. 48 countries have ratified the ICC, and it will enter into force when that number reaches 60.
On May 10, Rep. Tom DeLay introduced an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 1646) to prohibit cooperation with the International Criminal Court and to protect U.S. servicemen from ICC prosecution. The amendment was adopted 282 to 137. (House Roll Call Vote 106) However, the bill was never signed into law. Sen. Jesse Helms introduced a stronger version of the American Servicemembersí Protection Act (S. 1610). Unlike previous versions of the bill that only protected military personnel, every U.S. citizen would be protected from ICCís reach under S. 1610. It also instructs the Administration to withdraw Clintonís signature from the treaty. At this time, there is no equivalent House companion bill. S. 1610 is awaiting action in the Foreign Relations Committee.
On September 10, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) introduced an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations bill (H.R. 2500) to prohibit federal tax-dollars from being used to cooperate, assist, or support the International Criminal Court or the Preparatory Commission. The amendment was adopted by voice vote, included in the final bill (Section 630), and signed into law. State Department officials are still pushing for U.S. involvement in the ICC, despite the Presidentís opposition to the treaty. The Craig Amendment will be reconsidered next year since it was attached to an appropriations bill. Maintaining the Craig Amendment and passage of S. 1610 are top priorities for Eagle Forum in the 2nd Session of the 107th Congress.
United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Even though the United States hasn't belonged to UNESCO since President Reagan pulled us out because it was totally corrupt, many U.S. landmarks and national parks have been designated as U.N. Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves. On May 10, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) introduced an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 1646) to strike bill language directing the President to rejoin UNESCO and to strike language authorizing a payment to UNESCO. The amendment failed 193 to 225. (Roll Call Vote 108) However, the bill was never signed into law.
Prohibition on UN Taxation
Included in the Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations bill (H.R. 2500) is language prohibiting the use of federal funds by the United Nations for "the promulgation or enforcement of any treaty, resolution, or regulation authorizing the United Nations, or any of its specialized agencies or affiliated organizations, to tax any aspect of the Internet or international currency transactions." (Section 404)
Fast Track rushes executive-branch negotiated trade agreements through Congress with mandatory deadlines, severely limited debate, no amendments allowed, only the chance to vote aye or nay, and evades the two-thirds treaty requirement in the Senate. It basically transfers trade-negotiating powers from Congress to the President. Thanks to Congressional approval of "Fast Track" for President Clinton in the early 1990s, America has been stuck with the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the free trade agreement with Mexico (NAFTA).
In 1998, conservative Republicans joined Democrats in rejecting "Fast Track" for President Clinton (180 to 243). However, President Bush made it a top priority in 107th Congress and personally appealed to conservative Republicans to switch their votes. After extensive lobbying by the business community and payoffs in promises for future legislation and pork projects, the House passed "Fast Track" (H.R. 3005) on December 6 by one vote. (215 to 214, Roll Call Vote 481) Action is pending in the Senate.
NTR for China
Despite human rights abuses, national security threats, and espionage, Congress cleared the path for Chinaís entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) by passing Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) in 2000. However, because China had not entered the WTO by July 2001, Congress was forced to take another vote on annual trade relations, previously called Most-Favored Nation trading status. On July 19, the vote on H.J. Res. 50 to disapprove trade relations with China failed 169 to 259. (Roll Call Vote 255) Subsequently, China was notified on November 11 that the WTO had ratified its membership and became a full member on December 11.
The War on Terrorism
Authorization of War
On September 14, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (S.J. Res. 23): "The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons." Note: This limits our military action to those responsible for the 9/11 attack; it does not authorize the President to wage war against other nations we oppose for other reasons.
Anti-Terrorism Bill and Civil Liberties
In the hours following the terrorist attacks on September 11, the Bush Administration and Congress immediately began deliberating an anti-terrorism bill. Some changes in the law were necessary to track down the perpetrators, but it also provided an opportunity to give the federal government unprecedented police power to snoop and spy on law-abiding citizens. Most of the proposals under consideration were not new ideas. They had merely been shelved after rejection of the 1996 anti-terrorism bill.
Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) worked through the House Judiciary Committee to get the most egregious provisions eliminated from the bill, and he proved successful on numerous fronts. On October 3, the Committee passed H.R. 2975 unanimously, and it was a great improvement over the Administrationís draft. On October 12, the House passed H.R. 2975 with overwhelming bipartisan support. (337 to 79, 1 present, Roll Call Vote 386) The Senate worked on a separate bill (S. 1510) that more closely mirrored the Adminstrationís draft. When it was brought to the floor on October 11, only 3 amendments were allowed and all were defeated. The bill passed 96 to 1. (Roll Call Vote 302)
Instead of going through the normal process of appointing a conference committee, an entirely new bill was written and pre-conferenced by House, Senate, and White House officials. All action was behind closed-doors, and language changed hourly. On the evening of October 23, with a couple of hours notice, the USA PATRIOT Act (H.R. 3162) was written and brought to the House floor. Members had no time to read the bill. It was considered under suspension of the rules, which is reserved for "non-controversial" legislation. No amendments were allowed, and the bill was debated for one hour and 12 minutes. H.R. 3162 passed the House 357 to 66 the next morning. (Roll Call Vote 398) On October 25, the Senate approved it 98 to 1. (Roll Call Vote 313) President Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act on October 26.
USA PATRIOT Act Concerns
FERPA: The bill amends the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act by permitting access to student records that contain information relevant to a terrorism investigation. (Section 507) FERPA already allowed law enforcement access to education records by subpoena or emergency designation, but now terrorism is a separate exception. Most troubling is the language on record- keeping. FERPA requires each educational institution to maintain a record of all who have requested or obtained access to a studentís record. The only exception was for those with "legitimate educational interests." Under the USA PATRIOT Act, education records obtained as a result of a terrorism investigation will not be subject to the listing of disclosures. No parent or student will ever know that his record was tapped for a terrorism investigation. This new FERPA exception is largely directed at U.S. citizens. (Already, some alien students, who are part of the foreign student-monitoring program, sign a form permitting INS access to their records, and the USA PATRIOT Act calls for full implementation of this program. Therefore, government will have access to all foreign student records.)
Terrorism Defined: The bill contains an overly broad definition of terrorism. (Section 802) The new definition could impact people who engage in political protests if those acts turn out to be dangerous to human life.
E-Mail Surveillance: The USA PATRIOT Act expands use of the "Carnivore" Internet surveillance system. The FBI installs Carnivore on the networks of Internet Service Providers and then searches e-mails, including those from innocent people. Congress had never authorized Carnivore, but Section 216 of the bill basically endorses its use. While Section 216 requires reports on the use of Carnivore, it will likely result in more use of the system.
"Sneak and Peek" Warrants: The final version of the anti-terrorism legislation would allow law enforcement agencies to delay giving notice when they conduct a search. (Section 213) Government could enter a house or office with a search warrant when the occupant was away, search through the property, in some cases seize physical property and electronic communications, and not tell the owner until later. This provision marks a significant change in the way search warrants are executed in the United States.
Roving Wiretaps: A roving wiretap permits law enforcement agents to listen in on any phone being used by a suspect. When the suspect enters another person's home, law enforcement agents can tap the homeowner's telephone. Previous law required that before executing a roving wiretap, law enforcement must determine that the target is actually on the phone line, which lessens the possibility of intercepting the conversations of innocent persons. Section 206 expands roving wiretap authority to "intelligence" wiretaps, which are authorized secretly and without probable cause of crime. Under intelligence roving wiretaps, law enforcement agents are not required to ascertain that the target is the one using the tapped phone.
Spying on Americans: Section 203 of the anti-terrorism legislation puts the Central Intelligence Agency back in the business of spying on Americans. It permits a vast array of information gathering on U.S. citizens from school records, financial transactions, Internet activity, telephone conversations, information from grand jury proceedings and criminal investigations.
Financial Spying: Title III increases government spying of financial transactions. This bill expands the requirement that financial institutions file "suspicious activity reports" and codifies the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) authority to snoop on the financial transactions of law-abiding Americans.
Sunset: The bill contains a sunset clause of December 31, 2005, but it does not apply to the entire bill. Every section listed above, except for the roving wiretap expansion, is permanent.
As President Bush has warned us, this is a new kind of war. Security must start at our borders. The INS and Justice Department finally began enforcing the laws already on the books by rounding up hundreds of aliens on criminal and immigration violations, including "visa overstays." The USA PATRIOT Act (H.R. 3162) included some immigration changes, but more are certainly needed.
The USA PATRIOT Act includes:
- an increase in personnel along the northern border,
- State Department and INS access to criminal history records of visa applicants,
- within 2 years, the development of a technology standard for visas to verify a personís identity,
- a report to Congress on the feasibility of enhancing an Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System in order to better identify aliens wanted in a criminal investigation,
- a denial of visas for persons engaged in terrorist activities or members of terrorist organizations,
- detention of aliens who are a threat to national security,
- full implementation of the foreign student monitoring program, and
- a Sense of the Congress non-binding provision calling for the immediate implementation of the Integrated Entry and Exit Data System, which would include information on every alien entering and leaving the United States.
Without prior notice or any bill text on the Internet, the House passed by voice vote the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2001 (H.R. 3525) on December 19 after 41 minutes of debate. The bill is the companion to S. 1749, which was drafted as a compromise between Sens. Kennedy, Brownback, Feinstein, and Kyl. Action is pending in the Senate. The bill:
- increases border personnel and inspectors,
- integrates all INS databases,
- implements the integrated entry and exit data system,
- requires machine-readable biometric travel documents for aliens by October 26, 2003,
- prohibits visas for persons coming from terrorist countries,
- requires access to arrival and departure passenger manifests, and
- establishes electronic monitoring of foreign students.
(For more information on immigration, read the November 2001 and January 2002 Phyllis Schlafly Reports.)
On November 19, President Bush signed into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (S. 1447). The bill created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to oversee security for all modes of transportation. Flight deck access is restricted and cockpit doors are strengthened. Federal air marshals are placed on more flights, especially those deemed high security risks or long-distance. Screeners at airports will be federal employees but must be U.S. citizens. Sen. Bob Smithís amendment (R-NH) permitting pilots to carry firearms was included in the final bill.
The use of biometric technology as a security mechanism is encouraged throughout the bill. In regard to passengers, the TSA will establish "trusted passenger programs" to expedite the screening of passengers who participate in such programs. Even though it may be labeled voluntary, signing up will be encouraged unless you want to stand in line for hours. The TSA will "provide for the use of voice stress analysis, biometric, or other technologies" to keep people off a plane who may be a threat. (Section 109) If implemented improperly, either of these provisions could lead to a national database and ID card. However, the Bush Administration has stated opposition to a national ID card. No Member of Congress has introduced legislation calling for one, but the conference report language in the Department of Transportation Appropriations bill (H.R. 2299) did include instructions for the DOT to develop "model guidelines for encoded data on driverís licenses." The conferees did not specifically state what types of personal information to encode on the cards but merely trusts DOT to work with the states to implement such measures.
After making education one of his top campaign issues, President Bush pushed for a "bipartisan" education bill as soon as Congress opened the session. The Presidentís plan to "Leave No Child Behind" turned into H.R. 1/S. 1, the one-thousand page bill that was described by Rep. Jim DeMint (R-SC) as the plan to "Leave No Democrat Behind." The Republican platform calls for "progressively limiting" the role of the federal government in education, but H.R. 1/S. 1 is full of regulation and expansion of federal involvement, instead of local control. The total cost for H.R. 1 is a minimum of $26.3 billion for FY 2002, plus 10 sections for such sums Congress deems necessary.
On May 23, H.R. 1 passed the House 384 to 45. (Roll Call Vote 145) On June 14, S. 1 passed the Senate 91 to 8. (Roll Call Vote 192) After a conference committee in December, the House agreed to the bill 381 to 41 (Roll Call Vote 497), and the Senate agreed to the bill 87 to 10. (Roll Call Vote 371) President Bush signed it into law on January 8, 2002.
Homeschoolers are exempt from the entire education bill.
Prior to H.R. 1/S. 1, students in the fourth and eighth grade were randomly selected to take the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to provide a snapshot of academic progress in math and English. When President Bush proposed testing as the way to hold schools accountable, he selected NAEP as the only acceptable measure. The problem remains that whoever controls the test controls the curriculum, and schools will be held accountable to the federal government, not parents.
The House passed "NAEP Plus," referring to an option for states to use a measure of their choice to gage their stateís progress, and included no mandate for science standards or testing. However, the Senate required "NAEP Only" testing in math and English and separate science standards and testing.
In the final bill, H.R. 1 requires every state to implement its own standards and tests. NAEP is then used as a check-up on states to ensure that they are not dumbing-down their standards and tests in math and English. The use of NAEP is mandated at least biannually to the states, which are responsible for getting schools to participate. However, schools are not required to do so by federal law. There is a parental notice requirement when a child is selected to participate in the NAEP, which gives parents an opportunity to opt their child out of the testing.
While science standards and testing are required by H.R. 1, there is no NAEP check-up required (yet). For controversial areas, such as biological evolution, the bill contains report language stating, "the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society."
Language was included in H.R. 1 prohibiting the development and implementation of a national test as well as clarifying that NAEP should not exert undue influence on states to align their state assessments with the NAEP.
If a school has been on the Department of Educationís list of failing schools for 2 years, then it must provide public or charter (but not private) school choice at the beginning of the third year. If a school fails for 3 years, then it must provide funding for supplemental services in addition to public and charter school choice. After 4 years of failing, the school would be "reconstituted" by the local education agency, such as by replacing the school administration and curriculum. If a school fails for 5 years, the state takes over the school by shutting it down or turning it into a charter school.
On May 10, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) introduced an amendment to S. 1 to boost bilingual education spending from $750 million to $2.8 billion by 2008. The amendment passed 62 to 34. (Roll Call Vote 100) The final bill appropriated $750 million for FY 2002 and "such sums as may be necessary for each of the 5 succeeding fiscal years."
Unless and until Congress spends $650 million on bilingual education, schools are not held accountable for enacting reforms, such as a new requirement that teachers must be fluent in English. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) initially included language in H.R. 1 requiring parental consent prior to placing a child in a bilingual class, but the final bill watered down the language to mere parental notification.
Title I funding
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 was supposed to provide "compensatory education" for poor and minority children. The goal was to close the achievement gap between the inner-city poor and those living in the suburbs. Despite a growing achievement gap over the last 30 years, Congress appropriated over $12.3 billion for Title I for FY 2002, and authorized $25 billion for Title I in 2007.
Federal funding for the Reading First program will be tripled to $900 million in FY 2002. An additional $75 million will be appropriated for the Early Reading First program, which targets children in high poverty areas. The goal of this massive increase in federal funding is to ensure that every child can read by the end of the third grade.
Parental Freedom of Information Amendment
Reps. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) introduced an amendment to H.R. 1 to guarantee parental access to curriculum and to require parental consent for surveys and medical examinations in schools. The amendment was adopted by voice vote. In the final bill, the amendment was watered down to require local educational agencies to develop a policy providing parental notification and opt-out for medical exams and for surveys covering topics of sexual behavior, political beliefs, religious beliefs, illegal behavior, etc. Parents may also view curriculum.
Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced an amendment to give parents notice about non-educational activities, such as commercial and marketing activities, and let them decide whether their children should participate. The amendment was adopted by voice vote. In the final bill, schools are required to provide notice and opt-out to parents before personal information, including name, address, telephone number, or Social Security Number, is disclosed or sold for commercial purposes.
Boy Scouts Amendment
The attack against the Boy Scouts has continued even though the Supreme Court ruled that the Scouts are not obligated to hire homosexual troop leaders. Some school districts have taken action against the Scouts because of its policy. Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Rep. Van Hilleary (R-TN) introduced amendments to H.R. 1/S. 1 to deny federal funds to any state or local educational agency or school that discriminates against the Boy Scouts of America. The amendment was adopted by voice vote in the House and passed 51 to 49 in the Senate. (Roll Call Vote 189) The language was included in the final bill, a win for conservatives.
Akin Objectivity Amendment
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) introduced an amendment to require that academic tests be based on objective, measurable, and widely accepted professional testing and assessment standards and shall not assess the personal opinions, attitudes or beliefs of the student. The Akin amendment was included in the final bill but amended to allow test essay questions to ask opinions and interpretations. Because the Akin amendment applies to the NAEP test, NAEP survey questions about studentsí home life and study habits can no longer be asked.
Nearly 180 schools provide morning-after pills to children without their parentsí knowledge. In 2000, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) attached an amendment to an appropriations bill to bar federally funded school-based health clinics from distributing morning-after pills to minors. The amendment was dropped from the conference report and never became law.
In 2001, Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA) planned to offer the amendment to H.R. 1. However, because it was deemed "controversial," she was asked to wait until the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill came to the floor. She was promised that her amendment would be permitted under the rules. However, when the appropriations bill reached the floor, Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula (R-OH) threatened that the rules of debate would fail and chaos on the entire bill would ensue if Rep. Hart were permitted to offer her amendment. Because of the arm-twisting of Speaker Hastert, Rep. Hart withdrew her amendment again and promised to bring it back next year.
Protection for Prayer in School
Section 303 of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill (H.R. 3061) states, "None of the funds under this Act may be used to prevent the implementation of programs of voluntary prayer and meditation in public schools." The protection for constitutionally-protected prayer is also upheld in H.R. 1.
Although H.R. 1 expands the federal role in education, the law does not contain the terms Goals 2000, Outcome-Based Education, higher-order thinking skills, or School-to-Work, and the National Education Goals Panel is finally terminating. The Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill (H.R. 3061) states, "For expenses necessary for costs associated with the termination of the National Education Goals Panel, $400,000."
On June 7, President Bush signed into law the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (H.R 1836), which was the largest tax cut since 1981. Every American taxpayer will benefit eventually, but it will take 10 years for the entire bill to be phased-in. Immediate rebate checks were mailed to all taxpayers during the summer: $300 for individuals and $600 for married couples.
The House passed rate reductions (H.R. 3) on March 8 with a vote of 230 to 198. (Roll Call Vote 45). On May 23, the Senate passed a comprehensive tax bill (H.R. 1836), which included rate reductions and other provisions, with a vote of 62 to 38. (Roll Call Vote 165)
H.R. 1836 changes the current income tax rates of 15, 28, 31, 36, and 39.6 percent to 10, 15, 25, 28, 33, and 35 percent. The reductions will be phased in from 2001 through 2006.
The marriage tax penalty is not verbally expressed as policy in any statute but is buried in the numbers. It is a consequence of the fact that our income tax tables treat a married couple as only 1.67 persons instead of two whole persons. There are 66 places in the tax code where the penalty occurs. The marriage tax penalty relief as passed by 107th Congress is only the first step. On March 29, the House passed marriage tax penalty relief (H.R. 6) 282 to 144. (Roll Call Vote 75) The Senate did not have a separate vote on marriage tax relief.
In the final bill (H.R. 1836), the marriage penalty in the standard deduction will begin to phase-out starting in 2005 and will be eliminated by 2009. There is no marriage penalty in the new 10 percent bracket. For the 15 percent bracket, the marriage penalty will begin to phase-out starting in 2005 and will be completely eliminated by 2008. The penalty in the earned income tax credit was also eased.
H.R. 1836 also included:
- a doubling of the per child tax credit: $600 in 2001 through 2004, $700 in 2005 through 2008, $800 in 2009, and $1,000 in 2010,
- an increase in the adoption tax credit to $10,000 per child,
- a repeal of the estate tax, or death tax, in 2010.
- an expansion of the annual contribution limit for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), 401(k) plans, and education IRAs,
- an employer-provided daycare credit, and
- an elimination of the 60-month limit on the student loan interest deduction.
During the final days of the Clinton Administration, the economy began a downward turn, and the terrorist attacks on September 11 made it worse. President Bush proposed legislation, which included additional tax cuts, to help stimulate the economy. Among the proposals were additional rebate checks for those who had paid FICA taxes but no income taxes, tax relief for victims of terrorism, business tax cuts, a health care credit for the unemployed, an extension of medical savings accounts, and expansion of unemployment benefits. The House passed two bills (H.R. 3090 and H.R. 3529), but both were killed in the Senate. Democrats insisted on more government programs, especially for health care for the unemployed, instead of tax cuts and credits.
Medical Savings Accounts
In 1996, Congress passed legislation to begin demonstration projects for medical savings accounts (MSAs), which are tax-free interest-bearing savings accounts that pay for basic medical expenses. However, the many restrictions and regulations placed on MSAs made them unworkable for most people. The demonstration projects were scheduled to expire in 2000, but legislation passed extending them for two more years. During the debate of the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act (H.R. 2563), Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA) introduced an amendment to strike the section limiting the number of MSAs and to replace it with fully expanded MSAs. On August 2, the amendment passed 236 to 194. (Roll Call Vote 328) The Senate passed a companion bill (S. 1052), but the bill did not contain MSAs. The conference committee is still negotiating the differences.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research
In 1995, Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR) included an amendment in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill outlawing federal funding for "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to the risk of injury or death." On August 9, President Bush embraced the Clintonian interpretation of the Dickey Amendment that if private funds were used to kill the embryos then federal funds can be used to conduct research on their remains. Even though embryonic stem cells have yet to provide a single benefit to a human patient, the proponents claim that the research is the key to unlocking cures for diseases. However, stem cells from adult tissues, umbilical cords, and placentas have successfully treated tumors, sickle-cell anemia, cancer, and other diseases.
The FY 2002 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill (H.R. 3061) still contains the Dickey Amendment but includes report language authorizing President Bushís decision, permitting federally-funded research on embryonic stem cell lines created before August 9. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) plans to push legislation (likely S. 723) in February or March that will go beyond the Presidentís guidelines.
On November 25, Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) announced that its scientists had successfully cloned a human embryo. ACT says it does not intend to implant cloned embryos in a womanís womb, but only to clone embryos and then kill them for their stem cells in the name of "research." Congress has prevented the use of federal funds for cloning human beings, but a complete ban is needed to stop the biotech companies from engaging in the prolific creation and destruction of human embryos.
On July 31, the House of Representatives passed the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001 (H.R. 2505) with bipartisan support. (265 to 162, Roll Call Vote 304) H.R. 2505 would ban human cloning for both reproductive and so-called research or "therapeutic" purposes, which would stop further ACT human cloning experimentation. The House rejected the amendment by Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-PA) to ban reproductive cloning but permit research cloning. (178 to 249, Roll Call Vote 302)
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) refused to schedule floor time to debate and vote on the House-passed cloning ban during the first session of the 107th Congress. Under an agreement with Sens. Brownback and Specter, a debate on cloning and stem cell research is expected in February. President Bush has stated that he will sign the House-passed cloning ban bill.
United Nations Fund for Population Assistance (UNFPA)
Since 1981, U.S. law has stated that at the Presidentís determination, U.S. population assistance funds may be denied to any organization that supports or participates in programs involving coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. Both Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush used that authority to deny federal funds to UNFPA. Funding was restored at the end of the Bush I administration and increased to $40 million under President Clinton. In 1998, UNFPA was caught supporting and cooperating with Chinaís coercive one-child policy, and Congress eliminated its funding. UNFPA came back lobbying and received $25 million in FY 2000 and FY 2001, minus a small penalty for its continued operation in China.
Interviews with Chinese women earlier this year provide new evidence that coercion and involuntary abortions and sterilizations are still prevalent in China. While UNFPA claims to fight China's coercive policies, UNFPA officials are actually working out of the same office space as Chinaís Office of Family Planning in certain counties. UNFPA officials are well aware of the human rights abuses, yet they continue to operate in China. Despite having a Republican President and majority in the House of Representatives, House and Senate appropriators agreed to fund UNFPA up to $34 million for FY 2002. Itís time for President Bush to use his authority to completely deny funding for UNFPA. (Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, H.R. 2506)
Mexico City Policy and Population Funding
In 1984, President Reagan announced that nongovernmental organizations must agree, as a condition of their receipt of Federal funds, that they would neither perform nor actively promote abortion in other nations. This policy, known as the Mexico City Policy, was in effect until President Clinton rescinded it on January 22, 1993. Eight years later, President Bush entered the White House and issued a memorandum fully reinstating the Mexico City policy. Congressional Democrats attempted to rescind the Bush order legislatively, but they abandoned their effort under veto threat by the President.
When Republicans took control of the majority in 1994, they cut international population control funding to $356 million, but the funding inched up to $425 million by 2001. President Bush requested level funding, but the Senate insisted on an increase. Caving to pressure, international family planning funding went up to $446.5 million for FY 2002, which includes an earmark of $368.5 million for family planning and reproductive health, "including in areas where population growth threatens biodiversity or endangered species." (Title II, Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, (H.R. 2506))
Unborn Victims of Violence
On April 26, the House passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (H.R. 503), which would punish criminals who hurt or kill an unborn child during the commission of a federal crime against a pregnant woman. (252 to 172, Roll Call Vote 89) Twenty-four states have passed unborn victim laws, and the courts have upheld these laws. Senator Daschle refused to schedule floor time to debate and vote on the House-passed bill.
Born-Alive Infants Protection Act
When nurse Jill Stanek testified before Congress detailing the infanticide occurring at Illinoisí Christ Hospital, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (H.R. 2175) was introduced to change the definition of a "person" to include "every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development." On July 24, the bill passed 25 to 2 in the House Judiciary Committee. It was then included in the text of the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act (H.R. 2563), which passed the House on August 2. During debate on the Senate Bipartisan Patient Protection Act (S. 1052), Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) offered the Born-Alive bill as an amendment, which passed 98 to 0. (Roll Call Vote 208) The Patient Protection bill is in a conference committee.
Where Are Your Tax Dollars Going?
Title X Family Planning Clinics
Title X of the Public Health Service Act funds hundreds of clinics (including Planned Parenthood clinics) that distribute contraceptives to teens without their parentsí knowledge or consent. Title X funding will increase from $253.9 million to over $265 million for FY 2002. Title X grantees must only certify that they "encourage" family participation (Section 210) but are not exempt from state laws requiring reporting of child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, or incest. (Section 212, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill (H.R. 3061))
In the Appropriations committee, Rep. David Vitter (R-LA) had planned to offer an amendment to H.R. 3061 to prohibit Title X funds from being awarded to any grantee or clinic that provides chemical or surgical abortions. However, Rep. Vitter pulled the amendment at the last moment because he did not have the votes for passage and faced significant opposition from Labor/HHS Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula (R-OH) and pro-abortion Members.
During the campaign, President Bush called for more money for abstinence education with a goal of reaching parity with the Title X "family planning" funds. In FY 2001, Title X received $253 million in federal funds while abstinence education received only $80 million. Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) offered an amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill (H.R. 3061) to increase abstinence education funding by $33 million. The amendment failed 106 to 311 (Roll Call Vote 379), largely because the money was being transferred from the Centers for Disease Control and the Child Care Development Block Grant. For FY 2002, abstinence education will receive nearly $102 million.
Former President Clintonís Executive Order 13166 requires recipients of federal funds, such as state and local government agencies and doctors who treat Medicare or Medicaid patients, to provide translation services on demand in any personís language of choice. The Bush administration has stated that the President has no plans to repeal this executive order, even though the Supreme Court ruled on April 24 in the Alexander v. Sandoval case that no one has a private right of action to demand government services in languages other than English.
On October 11, Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) introduced an amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill (H.R. 3061) to prohibit enforcement of the Executive Orderís regulations. The amendment failed 156 to 262. (Roll Call Vote 380) Clintonís Executive Order remains in effect.
National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) remains a federally-funded program, despite its extensive history in funding outrageous "art." The NEA continues to fund organizations that promote religious bigotry and pornography. For several years, Congress level-funded the NEA at $98 million, but for FY2001, liberal Republicans and Democrats awarded $98 million for NEA plus $7 million for the Challenge America Arts Fund, which is administered by the NEA.
On June 21, Rep. Louis Slaughter (D-NY) introduced an amendment to increase the NEA Challenge America Arts fund by $10 million, the National Endowment for the Humanities by $3 million, and the Institute of Museums and Library Services by $2 million. The amendment passed 221 to 193. (Roll Call Vote 177) Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) then attempted to cut NEA funding by $10 million, but the amendment failed 145 to 264. (Roll Call Vote 184) For FY2002, the NEA will receive $98,234,000 and administer $17 million for the Challenge America Arts fund. (Interior Appropriations bill (H.R. 2217))
National Endowment for the Humanities
For over 35 years, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has supported projects and programs that "preserve and study our cultural heritage." However, when the NEH proposed anti-American history standards several years ago, Congress decreased its funding, which had been $177 million in 1994. NEH funding has started increasing again. For FY 2001, NEH received just over $116 million. For FY2002, NEH will receive over $124.5 million. (Interior Appropriations bill (H.R. 2217))
Legal Services Corporation
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has long been engulfed by controversy. While LSC is supposed to provide legal representation to the poor, horror stories continue to surface about LSC funds going for leftist political activity. LSC funding was at $400 million before Republicans took over in 1994. In 1999, LSC was caught lying to Congress about its caseload but was still awarded $305 million. Liberal House and Senate Republicans make significant funding cuts an uphill battle. For FY 2002, LSC will receive $329.3 million. (Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations bill (H.R. 2500))
Unique Health-Care Identifier
The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act gave the Department of Health and Human Services the power to create a "unique health-care identifier." Every American would have to submit this ID number in order to receive health care or else the provider would not be paid. Public outrage ensued over this major tenet of Hillary health care. Therefore, for the fourth year, Congress provided that no federal funds can be used to develop a unique health-care identifier. (Section 513 of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill (H.R. 3061))
No $ for Gun-Control at CDC
Title II of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill (H.R. 3061) states, ". . . Provided further that none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control."
Domestic Partnerships in D.C.
In 1992, the District of Columbia City Council passed health care benefits for homosexual "domestic" partners. In that same year, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) inserted language in the D.C. Appropriations bill to prevent any federal or local funds from implementing the law. The ban remained in place through 2001. On September 20, Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) offered an amendment to the D.C. Appropriations bill (H.R. 2944) to allow local funds to implement the domestic partnership law. On September 25, Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) introduced an amendment to reinstate the complete ban, but it was defeated 194 to 226. (Roll Call Vote 352) The Kolbe language prevailed in the final bill.
Presidential and Judicial Nominations
Attorney General John Ashcroft
When Senator John Ashcroft was nominated for Attorney General, the left started a radical smear campaign attacking him. Ashcroft was attacked because of his religious, pro-life, and conservative beliefs. Even though he is the first Attorney General in U.S. history who has served as a state Attorney General, Governor, and U.S. Senator, the left continued to make baseless attacks and question whether he would uphold the law. Setting the stage for all nominees, the left tried to defeat Ashcroft and scare Bush into only appointing liberals to the Cabinet or the courts, but it didnít work. On February 1, the Senate voted 58 to 42 to confirm Ashcroft. (Roll Call Vote 8) The Ashcroft confirmation process is only a taste of what will come if a Supreme Court seat opens up.
During the summer, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) held hearings attempting to dramatically alter the "advise and consent" role of the United States Senate in confirming judicial nominees. Historically, Senators must prove a nominee unworthy of the bench, but one of Schumerís hearings questioned whether that burden should now be placed on the judicial nominee to prove himself worthy.
Another hearing addressed whether a nomineeís ideology has a place in determining fitness for the bench. Schumer asserted that, because Bush campaigned on a pledge to appoint judges like Justices Scalia and Thomas, the Court would lean too far right. He stated that the American people are divided politically and want "moderation and bipartisanship." Schumer said, "This era, perhaps more than any other before, calls out for collaboration between the President and the Senate in judicial appointments. It certainly justifies Senate opposition to judicial nominees whose views fall outside the mainstream and who have been selected in an attempt to further tilt the courts in an ideological direction."
These hearings demonstrate that the confirmation process will be highly political as long as the President nominates conservatives. After the Democrats took over the majority in the Senate, Bush nominees were basically held hostage, and many were even denied a hearing. President Bush submitted 70 judicial nominations for Senate approval in 2001, but only 28 judges were confirmed, which is the lowest approval rate in the last 20 years. President Reagan had 91 percent of his nominations confirmed in his first year, and even President Clinton had 57 percent confirmed in his first year in office. As of January 4, 2002, there were 100 judicial vacancies on the federal bench.