Published: February 3, 2017
AP(Eye) on the Hill is going weekly! Here we highlight significant federal updates, particularly those that impact AAPI communities regarding reproductive, immigration, and economic justice. Learn about NAPAWF’s and other national AAPI groups’ federal policy work while you’re out on the ground!
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2017 returns to the House of Representatives
- The U.S. Senate confirms Nikki Haley and Elaine Chao to the new administration
- Trump issues divisive anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-immigration executive orders, protests erupt in D.C. and across the country
- In the midst of backlash resulting from executive orders, Trump fires Acting-Attorney General Yates
- Trump Announces Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch
- HR 7 moves to the Senate, Attempts to codify the “Hyde Amendment”
- EACH Woman Act is reintroduced, pushing for proactive reproductive legislation
- Members of Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) hold a press conference opposing anti-Muslim, anti-immigration executive orders
- Congress planning to use the Congressional Review Act to repeal Obama’s rules
Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2017 returns to the House of Representatives
On January 3rd, Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) reintroduced H.R. 147, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), which would prohibit abortions sought based on the race or sex of the fetus or the race of the parent. The bill requires reporting of any suspected sex- and/or race-based motivations for seeking an abortion. H.R. 147 targets Asian American women based on false stereotyping regarding sex-preference and makes any Asian American person seeking an abortion a suspect. It aims to undermine Asian American women’s access to safe, unbiased reproductive care. On January 23th, PRENDA moved to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Learn more about NAPAWF’s work fighting PRENDA here.
The U.S. Senate confirms Nikki Haley and Elaine Chao to the new administration
On January 24th, the U.S. Senate confirmed Nikki Haley as United Nations Ambassador, a position tasked with the responsibility of representing the United States to the United Nations, including the U.N. Security Council. On January 31st, the Senate confirmed Elaine Chao as Secretary of the Department of Transportation, where she will oversee eleven agencies and coordinate national transportation system. NAPAWF, along with other progressive Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations, opposed the nomination and confirmation of Haley and Chao. Read NAPAWF’s statement on Haley and Chao here.
There are now five Senate-confirmed members of the Trump administration’s Cabinet and two other confirmations for high-level positions. In addition to Chao and Haley, John Kelly was confirmed for Homeland Security, James Mattis for Defense Secretary, Mike Pompeo for CIA Director, Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development, and Wilbur Ross for Commerce.Other nominees have been reported out of committee following a suspension of the rules when Senate Democrats boycotted confirmation votes, citing a pattern of misinformation and lies from nominees.The full Senate will vote whether or not to confirm Betsy DeVos for Department of Education early next week. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is awaiting full Senate vote for Department of Energy, as is Representative Ryan Zinke for Interior Secretary. The Senate hearings for Jeff Sessions for Department of Justice, Tom Price for Department of Health and Human Services, and Steven Mnuchin for Department of Treasury are complete and currently awaiting the committee vote before advancing to full Senate consideration. Read more about the confirmation process here.
Trump issues divisive anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-immigration executive orders, protests erupt in D.C. and across the country
The Trump administration instituted multiple executive orders regarding immigration and deportation in the last week of January. The orders included plans for increased vetting, detaining, and deportation of immigrants, as well as a total ban on Syrian refugees and 120 day ban on refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries. Protests at one of these orders commonly referred to as a “Muslim Ban” erupted around the nation.
The order, released on January 27th, halted entry of both visa and green-card holders from seven nations. Travelers from these countries were held at airports all over the US. Some were forced to sign away their rights to their travel documents and sent back to their country of origin despite legal US residency. Attorneys and protesters crowded airports in an attempt to reach and assist travelers. Federal Judge Ann M. Donnelly blocked part of the order on Saturday by ruling that travelers could not be immediately deported pending litigation filed by CAIR and the ACLU. It is unclear if law enforcement at all airports followed Judge Donnelly’s order, and if all travelers were given access to legal counsel. Read NAPAWF’s response to the executive orders here. AAPI and social justice organizations across the country released statements opposing the executive orders, including:
- NCAPA’s Statement, “NCAPA Strongly Opposes Trump’s Anti-Immigrant, Anti-American Executive Orders”
- National Immigration Law Center’s Statement, “Trump’s Backdoor Muslim Ban Is an Affront to America’s Core Values and the Constitution”
- National Immigrant Justice Center’s Statement, “NIJC (Like Most Americans) Stands with Muslims and Refugees”
- SEARC’s Statement: “SEARAC Outraged by Executive Orders to Ramp Up Deportation Machine and Terrorize Our Communities”
- NAPABA’s and SABA’s Joint Statement: “NAPABA and SABA Condemn Anti-Immigrant Executive Orders”
- APALA, AFL-CIO’s Statement: “APALA Condemns Executive Actions Targeting Immigrants, Muslims, and Refugees”
- For more statements by AAPI organizations, see NCAPA’s round-up here.
In the midst of backlash resulting from executive orders, Trump fires Acting-Attorney General Yates
After former Acting-Attorney General Sally Yates announced she would not defend the Trump administration’s executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim nations, the White House fired Yates and appointed a replacement on January 30th. Yates refused to defend the order in court, stating “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.” Soon after, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made an official statement calling Yates “an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration,” and announced the appointment of Dana Boente, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Dana Boente will serve as Acting Attorney General while confirmation process for Senator Jeff Sessions continues.
Trump Announces Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch
President Donald Trump announced his nominee for Supreme Court Justice, Judge Neil Gorsuch, on the evening of January 31. Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record reveals consistent rulings against reproductive rights for women, and has ruled in favor of corporations seeking to deny contraception and reproductive care to their employees. Former President Obama had announced his nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, nearly a year ago. Senate Republicans refused to grant a hearing — an unprecedented act in U.S. history that left the U.S. Supreme Court functioning with only eight justices for almost a year. Read NAPAWF’s statement on the nomination here.
HR 7 moves to the Senate, Attempts to codify the “Hyde Amendment”
On January 30th, H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017” was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance after passing through the House of Representatives (238-183). H.R. 7 was introduced mid-January by Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ-4) and is an attempt by lawmakers to codify the Hyde Amendment, which restricts Medicaid coverage of abortion and could end insurance coverage of abortion in the private insurance market as well. Restrictions like the Hyde Amendment and H.R. 7 disproportionately harm low-income women and women of color. H.R. 7 passed through the House with 101 cosponsors. Read NAPAWF’s statement on H.R. 7 here.
EACH Woman Act is reintroduced, pushing for proactive reproductive legislation
Photo Credit: John Nelson
On January 31st, Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) reintroduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act along with over 100 other members of Congress. The EACH Woman Act is a critical bill that would increase access to health care for low-income people by lifting restrictions on federal abortion coverage and prohibiting political interference with private insurance plans that decide to cover abortion care. The bill would ensure that all people, regardless of where they come from or how they get their insurance, are able to access legal reproductive health care and abortion services. Read NAPAWF’s full statement about this bold, visionary bill here!
Members of Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) hold a press conference opposing anti-Muslim, anti-immigration executive orders
On February 1, CAPAC members, as well as other leadership in the AAPI and Muslim communities, gathered for a press conference to denounce the executive orders issued earlier in the week banning refugees from Muslim-majority countries and issuing harmful immigration profiling, detention, and deportation policies. CAPAC Chair Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) were in attendance, as well as national AAPI organizations. Congresswoman Chu, along with Congresswoman Nanette Barragan (CA-44), went to the LAX airport earlier in the week to try to find out information on behalf of legal permanent residents who were detained at the airport. For more information on CAPAC’s position on the executive orders, read their statement here and learn more about the press conference here.
Congress planning to use the Congressional Review Act to repeal Obama’s rules
Members of Congress are planning to use the Congressional Review Act, a little-known and little-used piece of legislation from 1996 to repeal federal regulations instituted during the last 60 days of the Obama administration. The CRA allows Congress to vote to overturn federal regulations with a simple majority in both chambers and the President’s signature. With Republican control in both the legislative and executive branch, lawmakers are expected to review and overturn dozens of rules starting this week. The regulations range from the venting of methane to the guidelines for reporting former labor law violations.
Keep an AP(Eye) out for...
- Early reports indicate the Trump administration plans to release more executive orders on immigration soon. A draft obtained by the Washington Post indicates that an upcoming order will impose limits on public benefits available to immigrants; stop immigrants who use public benefits from obtaining full legal residency; and require sponsors to reimburse the government for the cost of public benefits used by the immigrants they sponsor.
- Several Cabinet nominees will advance to a full floor vote on the Senate in the upcoming week, including Betsy DeVos, Senator Jeff Sessions, Representative Tom Price, Steven Mnuchin, Rick Perry, and Representative Ryan Zinke. Read NAPAWF’s full statement on this administration’s Cabinet nominees and why they don’t represent the needs and concerns of all Americans.