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How the ERLC is advocating on Capitol Hill this fall

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October 13, 2021

The end of the year is always busy on Capitol Hill, as Congress wraps up their remaining legislative work. There’s a handful of “must-pass” pieces of legislation that are seen as critical for  the U.S. government to continue operating. Before the end of 2021, Congress must pass a budget to fund the government, pass the ​​National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and raise the debt ceiling again. Additionally, Congressional Democrats want to use reconciliation to pass President Biden’s “Build Back Better” policy agenda.

The ERLC is actively involved in monitoring these pieces of legislation and advocating for the inclusion of pro-life policies (such as the Hyde Amendment) and the removal of harmful sexual orientation and gender identity language. We regularly work with committee and leadership offices to advocate for pro-life provisions and other legislative measures that recognize God’s gracious love for every human life and protect our freedom to live according to our deeply held religious beliefs. 

As the Legislative Branch wraps up its work for the first session of the 117th Congress, here are some of the ERLC’s top priorities for the rest of the year.

Appropriations

The FY2022 House appropriations bill is troubling because it removes several longstanding pro-life riders from the budget. For the first time since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has not been included in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. The Hyde Amendment prevents Medicaid from covering the cost of abortion. At the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, messengers unanimously approved a resolution condemning efforts to strip Hyde from any federal appropriations bill and called upon Congress to uphold all pro-life riders.

Additionally, the appropriations bills removed the Weldon Amendment for the first time since 2005. The amendment protects the rights of conscience for healthcare professionals and institutions by preventing HHS from denying funding to recipients that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer for abortion. The budget would also prohibit any president from reinstituting the Mexico City Policy, reestablished and expanded by President Donald Trump as the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy.

The ERLC sent congressional leadership a letter urging them to adhere to critical pro-life policy riders, including the Hyde Amendment, and we joined dozens of pro-life coalition partners in sending congressional leadership a similar letter. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the appropriations bills. As the Senate works on the bills, we strongly urge Senate leadership to ensure that important pro-life and conscience-protecting riders are included. 

Opposing the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021

In September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill titled the “Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021.” This legislation is one of the most pro-abortion bills to have ever passed the House. The bill removes all restrictions and limits on abortion and allows for abortion up to the point of birth. Additionally, this bill removes all pro-life protections at the federal and state levels and eliminates a state’s ability to legislate on abortion. This bill also fails to protect the consciences of American taxpayers and would force taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. Longstanding pro-life protections such as the Hyde Amendment and the Weldon Amendment would be removed.

Despite the bill’s name, vulnerable women and families will only be put more at risk if the Women’s Health Protection Act were to ever become law. Additionally, abortion is not healthcare. If human dignity is given to each person when created in the womb, then abortion is not only an assault on the image of God but also causes irreparable harm on a vulnerable life. We believe abortion denies precious human lives both personhood and protection, and therefore cannot be considered as healthcare.

Senators Schumer, Murray, Blumenthal, and Durbin issued a joint statement, promising to bring the bill to the Senate floor “soon” for consideration. ​​

The ERLC is strongly opposed to this bill and any effort to legalize abortion. We urge the Senate not to pass this destructive piece of legislation. It would put thousands of vulnerable, preborn lives at risk and steamroll over the the consciences of millions of Americans who do not wish to pay for or be compelled to provide abortions.

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

The Southern Baptist Convention was the first denomination to pass a resolution specifically labeling what’s happening to the Uyghur people as a genocide. The ERLC advocated for the Trump administration to make an official determination that the People’s Republic of China is “committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China, for targeting Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.” On the last day of the Trump administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a genocide determination, and the U.S. became the first country to adopt these terms to describe the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) unconscionable human rights abuses in its far northwest. The Biden administration has maintained that the genocide against the Uyghur people is “ongoing.” 

While the genocide determination was an important step in countering the CCP the U.S. House of Representatives should swiftly pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The bill unanimously passed the Senate earlier this year. This bipartisan and bicameral piece of legislation prohibits goods made with forced labor in Xinjiang or by entities using Uyghur labor forcibly transferred from Xinjiang from entering the U.S. market. This legislation also instructs the U.S. government to impose sanctions against any foreign person who knowingly engages in the forced labor of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.

For further reading:

Adoptee Citizenship Act 

Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, the administrative steps for an adoptive family were unnecessarily burdensome. In addition to the lengthy adoption process, families had to engage in a lengthy naturalization process for their children. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 streamlined the process, and granted automatic citizenship to all foreign-born children brought to the United States, who had at least one parent who was a U.S. Citizen. While the intercountry adoption process remains a lengthy one, taking anywhere from one to four years, adoptive families no longer have to worry about the lengthy naturalization process.

Unfortunately, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 did not include adoptees who were 18 and older when the law took effect. This loophole left people legally adopted as children and raised in the United States without citizenship. The exclusion resulted in numerous difficulties for impacted adoptees. Because of a lack of citizenship, everyday activities for these individuals like obtaining a driver’s license, receiving financial aid at college, applying for jobs, working for the government, or traveling abroad are restricted.

The Adoptee Citizenship Act fixes this problem by making citizenship automatic for international adoptees who were legally adopted by U.S. citizens as children, regardless of their age when the Child Citizenship Act took effect. The Adoptee Citizenship Act has large bipartisan and bicameral support. The ERLC is engaged with a broad coalition invested in child welfare to urge members of Congress to swiftly pass this bill and secure permanent citizenship for the thousands of impacted adoptees. The bill’s passage would be an important step to ensuring that adoptees are treated the same way under the law as natural born citizen

For further reading:

In addition to our Congressional advocacy, the 2021-22 term of the U.S. Supreme Court is in full swing, and the ERLC has submitted a number of amicus briefs on cases that could have major implications on both religious liberty and life issues. The ERLC will always advocate for life, religious liberty and human flourishing before Congress, the courts, and in the public square. 

Chelsea Patterson Sobolik

Chelsea Patterson Sobolik serves as the Director of Public Policy with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in the Washington, D.C. office. Previously, she worked on Capitol Hill on pro-life policies, domestic and international religious freedom, adoption, and foster care issues. Chelsea has been published at the Wall Street Journal, … Read More