Thursday, October 12, 2017


Source: House Representative Pete Aguilar (D-CA, 31st)

This week, Rep. Pete Aguilar introduced H.R. 3974, the Justifiable and Efficient Transportation Substitutes (JETS) Act.  This bill prohibits most cabinet officials from using taxpayer money for official travel on private planes until a system is developed to provide the necessary oversight and accountability for private air travel. The bill also includes a public disclosure provision, allowing the American public to track exactly how their tax dollars are being spent. The bill was introduced in the wake of revelations that Trump Administration officials have been regularly misusing taxpayer money to charter private flights, including for nonofficial business.

“To think that a cabinet official would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on private jets, and then stick taxpayers with the bill, is appalling,” said Rep. Aguilar. He continued, “This bill is about demanding accountability from this administration. The president’s cabinet has made it clear that they intend to travel around the country by private jet, and we need a system that provides a check on this kind of reckless spending.”

The JETS Act establishes a moratorium on the use of taxpayer funds for private jet travel by cabinet officials until the president issues guidelines for the use of private jets. The bill provides exclusions for national security officials such as the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence.

Statements on Immigration Legislation: Priorities and Principles

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke

"When crafting the Administration's immigration principles, the President asked us to focus on measures that will assist the Department of Homeland Security’s law enforcement personnel with what they need to enforce our immigration laws, secure our border, and protect American communities across this country.

"DHS frontline personnel identified many of the principles outlined today, including closing loopholes in our ability to enforce immigration laws and eliminating the magnets for illegal immigration.  I look forward to working with Congress on legislation that will enact many of these common sense and necessary reforms that will inevitably better secure our nation.”

House Representative Nanette Barragan (D-CA, 44th)

“These principles are a slap in the face to Dreamers everywhere who hoped Trump would stop treating them like bargaining chips.

Dreamers need the Dream Act, not another useless round of talk about a border wall, which would be ineffective and wasteful. Time is running out to find a solution for nearly 800,000 young men and women who came here as children. We should be looking for bipartisan areas of agreement. Instead, we got a  cruel wish list of repressive and anti-immigrant measures. 

My colleagues and I will not stop fighting for the Dream Act. Now the real fight begins.”

House Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ, 5th)

“President Trump released a list of immigration principles that include building a border wall, hiring additional ICE officers, discouraging Sanctuary cities from their unconstitutional practices, and eliminating incentives for illegal immigrants who break the law to come here. I am confident that, if enacted by Congress, these actions would secure our open borders and reduce incentives for illegal immigrants to remain in or enter the United States. We are a nation of laws, and those laws must be enforced to defend our national security and protect the sanctity of our statutes. President Trump committed to enforcing these laws if he were to become President, and he is following through with his words and oath of office.

“For too long, Congress has talked about border security to remain in office, but Members have reneged on their promises once back in Washington, D.C. The American people are tired of these flip flops, and we must give them the results they deserve – before any other reforms are enacted.

“One of the major hindrances to accomplishing these goals is the Senate’s 60-vote rule, which allows a minority of Senators to directly block these vital issues of national security from even coming to the floor. I pray that the Senate does the right thing for the good of the nation and removes the 60-vote rule to allow these policies to receive up-or-down votes.”

Governor Abbott Statement On Texas Tech Shooting

Source: Texas Governor Gregg Abbott

Governor Greg Abbott issued the following statement on the shooting that occurred at Texas Tech University:
“First and foremost, our hearts go out to the family of the police officer killed at Texas Tech University. I have spoken to Chancellor Robert Duncan to offer my condolences, and I have mobilized the Texas Department of Public Safety to offer any assistance to the Lubbock Police Department. As the Texas Tech campus deals with this heartbreaking tragedy, Cecilia and I pray for the continued safety of the students and the entire community."

Right-to-Life Groups Across the Country Call for Opposition to Pain-Capable Legislation

Source: Personhood Alliance

Minneapolis, MN - October 12, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- On October 3, 2017, the House passed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36) with several serious flaws. Two of these flaws, say multiple right-to-life leaders, are detrimental to the common goal shared among the diverse factions of the pro-life movement--to protect and defend all human life, from conception to natural death.

"As a person concerned with defending human rights," explains Daniel Becker, president of Personhood Alliance, "I want to let my fellow pro-lifers know that it's okay to oppose laws Republicans put forth and national organizations support, when those laws go against our shared goal as a movement. You're NOT 'not pro-life' for speaking up. In fact, by opposing this flawed legislation, you're upholding the values that we all fight for every day."

The first flaw, notes Christopher Kurka, executive director of Alaska Right to Life, is the lack of standard language that prevents activist judges from using the law to create a right to abortion. "A simple clause," says Kurka, "stating that 'no right to abortion shall be established in this law' is completely missing. Combine that with language that specifically carves out exceptions to the 20-week rule and explicitly permits all abortions before 20 weeks, denying those younger babies personhood, and we've just set ourselves up for SCOTUS to keep Roe intact indefinitely."

Molly Smith, president of Cleveland Right to Life and board member of Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio, agrees: "Whenever you have a piece of legislation that says 'if you do this and this and this, then you can go ahead and abort the child' it must be recognized for what it is—a bill that further enshrines abortion into law."

Gualberto Garcia Jones, national policy director for Personhood Alliance, explains further. "Forget about how the Supreme Court would analyze this bill, because it will never get past the Senate. Then the pro-life movement will be left with another failed show bill, and a poor one at that. We've already set a dangerously low bar for House GOP members by allowing them to proclaim how pro-life they are, all the while knowing this bill's fate. Now, we do a disservice to our pro-life base by pretending that the Senate, who couldn't even reallocate taxpayer funds away from Planned Parenthood, is going to end abortion after 20 weeks. Instead," says Jones, "We should focus on a real, winning strategy, which is to hold our legislators to a higher standard and replace those that fail to meet it. But sadly, much of the pro-life movement has, once again, lowered its standards in order to have a seat at the table with legislators that are pro-life in name only."

Echoing this sentiment, Dr. Patrick Johnston, president of the Association of Pro-Life Physicians explains the second flaw: Exceptions for children conceived in rape and incest. "To permit the killing of some children is to abandon our moral high ground and God's blessing. Our congressmen and women must protect all those they are duty- and constitutionally-bound to protect." Rebecca Kiessling, president of Save the 1 and conceived in rape herself, adds: "My people group feels the pain of discrimination every time so-called pro-life laws exclude us from protection. What's more, women who experience the horrific violation of rape deserve better than a law that promotes a second act of violence as a solution."

Similarly, permitting abortion for children conceived in incest is particularly harmful, as abortion is often used to hide evidence of the crime and give the perpetrator continued access to the victim. "Several studies have shown that abortion is rarely voluntary for incest victims," says Kiessling. "Like the assault itself, abortion is often forced or coerced, which contributes to the victimization. When abortion providers look the other way, and when we explicitly permit this in our laws, we aid and abet this injustice."

Ricardo Davis, African-American pro-life activist and president of Georgia Right to Life, reflects: "A strength of the early Civil Rights movement was its commitment to apply a biblical view of personhood to the plight of Black citizens dehumanized by slavery and faced with daily threats to their lives. Today, we cannot say that HR36 is 'just' when it dehumanizes the majority of preborn children killed by abortion."

"With Republicans in control of the House, Senate, and Oval Office, pro-lifers need to ask themselves some serious questions right now," says Matt Sande, legislative director at Pro-Life Wisconsin. "Why aren't we using this opportunity to put forth legislation that upholds our shared goal? And why are we allowing this current legislation to give cover to our politicians who continue to receive '100% pro-life' ratings while directly undermining our efforts?"

These are questions that leaders across the country are rising up to ask right now. Pro-lifers are encouraged to join them by calling upon their Republican representatives and national pro-life organizations to work toward ending legalized abortion without compromising the foundational principles on which the pro-life movement stands.

Sign our petition calling for Equal Protection.

AG Reverses Policy on Gender-Identity Rights

Source: Liberty Counsel

Washington, D.C. - October 12, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a new memorandum stating that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans gender discrimination, but does not include sexual orientation or gender identity, in the workplace.

Title VII specifically bars employers from discriminating against employees based on sex, race, color, national origin and religion. The Attorney General officially withdrew a 2014 Obama-era policy protecting so-called "transgender" employees from discrimination under Title VII. The Attorney General stated that the Department of Justice will no longer interpret Title VII to mean that the law's protections extend to discrimination based on gender identity. Sessions said the change will apply to "all pending and future matters" relating to "transgender" workers, which means that it could have an immediate impact on open discrimination cases.

Sessions wrote in the memo: "Title VII expressly prohibits discrimination 'because of…sex'…and several other protected traits, but it does not refer to gender identity. "Sex is ordinarily defined to mean biologically male or female. Congress has confirmed this ordinary meaning by expressly prohibiting, in several other statutes, 'gender identity' discrimination, which Congress lists in addition to, rather than within, prohibitions on discrimination based on 'sex' or 'gender.' Accordingly, Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status. Therefore, as of the date of this memorandum, which hereby withdraws the December 15, 2014, memorandum, the Department of Justice will take that position in all pending and future matters…"

"Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has never included sexual orientation or gender identity," said Mat Staver (photo), Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "We commend Attorney General Jeff Sessions for ending the Obama-era policy that purported to allow Title VII to be interpreted to include so-called "transgender" employee rights," said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.