Capitol Hill Update
While on-going discussions occur regarding our efforts to De-Fund Planned Parenthood, Catholic Advocate wanted to also update you on the latest news regarding other key issues of importance in Washington D.C.:
Protect Life Act
Senators Orrin Hatch (R, UT) and Tom Coburn (R, OK) will be introducing the senate version of HR 358, the Protect Life Act. The language is exactly the same as H.R. 358, which was introduced by Representatives Pitts (R, PA-16) and Lipinski (D, IL-03) and already moved through the House committee process.
Simply put, The Protect Life Act is an effort to fix the abortion language in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (President Obama’s health care reform bill). There are 143 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives; and last Congress, 28 senators supported this legislation.
Tell Congress to support the Protect Life Act by visiting our special site:
No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
Due in part to the hard work of the Catholic Advocate community, 228 Members (including authors Congressmen Chris Smith (R, NJ-04) and Dan Lipinski (D, IL-03)) cosponsored H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Now we must ensure this important pro-life legislation succeeds on the House floor in the coming weeks.
Tell your Member of Congress to vote for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
On February 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement on behalf of President Obama declaring the Administration would no longer defend legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman. DOMA was supported by nearly 80% of Congress when it passed and was signed into law by President Clinton on September 21, 1996.
On March 9, 2011, following a meeting of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R, OH-08) directed the non-partisan office of the House General Counsel to initiate a legal defense of DOMA.
Visit our Action Center to tell your Member of Congress to Support Marriage.
D.C. Opportunity Scholarships
On Wednesday, March 30, 2011, the House approved H.R. 471, a bill to reauthorize the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program (D.C. OSP), by a vote of 225-195. Originally authorized in 2003, the D.C. OSP provides low-income students an opportunity to receive a scholarship to attend a DC private school of their parent’s choice ($8,000 per year for elementary school and $12,000 per year for high school). H.R. 471 reauthorizes the program at $60 million per year for 5 years, which is over $15 million per year less than the program is currently receiving. Funding would be equally divided between the D.C. OSP, DC public schools and D.C. public charter schools. Additionally, the bill would cap administrative expenses and requires annual performance assessments and evaluation reports to Congress. The most recent impact report of the program was released in June 2010 and showed a 91 percent graduation rate for students who received scholarships compared to 70 percent for those who did not. The graduation rate for D.C. Public Schools is 59.5 percent.
Special Update [added April 9, 2011]
The 2011 Continuing Resolution spending bill negotiations that ended on Friday, April 8, 2011 late in the evening includes money for the SOAR Act. Catholic Advocate will be on the watch to ensure the program survives past this current year.
By Matt Smith, Vice President of Catholic Advocate