The Congressional lame duck session has run amok. Nothing highlighted the lawlessness of this period more than the politics surrounding the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404). After forty-seven House Republicans helped advance the bill with no religious exemptions before the November elections, the Senate took it up this week. Senate Republicans were unwilling to vote for the House version of the bill as written, so Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced a substitute that gave lip service to religious liberty concerns but only included limited protections for actual religious institutions. Individuals and faith-based entities that are not actual churches still would be forced to provide services in situations that conflict with their moral values. Sadly, this weak amendment appeased some Republicans who claimed interest in stronger religious protections but refused to require them.
Although opposing the bill, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced an amendment to extend the religious liberty protections in the Collins/Baldwin substitute. Since the substitute bill had already received enough votes to pass, it was a last-ditch effort to clarify and strengthen Constitutional protections for believers in traditional marriage. Unfortunately, his amendment needed 60 votes to pass, and it failed by 48-49 vote.
Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced amendments as well. Sen. Lankford’s amendment ensured that non-governmental actors, including faith-based organizations, who operate according to their beliefs would not be discriminated against due to this bill. Sen. Rubio’s amendment stripped out the private right of action that allowed same-sex marriage activists to sue faith-based organizations such as foster care and adoption agencies. Both amendments failed despite their common-sense approach.
The Respect for Marriage Act passed Tuesday evening by a vote of 61-36 with the following Republican Senators voting in favor: Roy Blunt (MO), Richard Burr (NC), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Susan Collins (ME), Joni Ernst (IA), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), Dan Sullivan (AK), Thom Tillis (NC), and Todd Young (IN). Senators Blunt, Burr, and Portman are all retiring at the end of this session and have ended their careers by leaving their constituents with a terrible Christmas present. (Republican Sens. Ben Sasse (NE) and Pat Toomey (PA) did not vote.) The Senate bill is expected to pass the House easily and will soon be on the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Eagle Forum scored against all cloture votes that moved the bill toward passage. We, along with many like-minded organizations, contacted Senators regarding the dangers of this bill. We also saw a massive grassroots movement that rallied against this bill. In fact, Democrat Senator Kyrsten Synema said, “the attempts to derail this piece of legislation were probably more focused and robust than any other bills I’ve worked on in the last two years.” Roger Severino of the Heritage Foundation pointed out that many thought traditional marriage proponents had given up on this battle, but the mobilization by the grassroots should be seen as a positive! Thank you for your efforts. We expect to see this law eventually challenged in the courts. To read more, check out our press release on the passage of H.R. 8404.
The unfinished business of Congress includes addressing the spending bills for the rest of the fiscal year, and the Left sees another opportunity to leave coal in all our stockings. The current government funding provision will expire on December 16th and outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a chance to ram through her party’s fiscal priorities before the Republicans take over the House in January. The current plan, which is in flux, is to pass a continuing resolution to extend funding for one week followed by an unrealistically ambitious plan to pass an “omnibus” spending bill to fund various federal government agencies and programs for the remainder of FY 2022. This would allow Pelosi, President Biden, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to craft a final spending package while they are in control. Leftist priorities such as abortion funding, amnesty measures, pro-marijuana legislation, election reform, and more, are all possibilities for the ‘catch-all’ spending bill. It would be unwise for Republicans to play along and Eagle Forum has already communicated with Members of Congress our opposition to this strategy. Yet, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is currently in talks with President Biden and Senator Schumer on how to get an omnibus passed. He told The Hill on Tuesday:
We had a really good meeting. Laid out the challenges that we’re all collectively facing here. I think there’s widespread agreement that we’d be better off with an omnibus than a [continuing resolution], but there are some significant hurdles to get over to do that.
Sen. Schumer has not been quiet about his priorities over the last couple of years and we expect to see them in an omnibus. He recently met with Senate Democrats about marijuana legislation. Some are pushing the SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 1996) which would allow financial institutions to service the marijuana industry while others are vying for the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement “HOPE” Act (H.R. 6129) which aims to expunge past marijuana convictions. Sen. Schumer has already pushed forward his own initiative called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (S. 4591) which would merge the two bills together and federally decriminalize the drug. Whether these bills are rolled into the omnibus or are voted on separately, this legislation is dangerous for our children, our communities, and our livelihoods.
Eagle Forum Chair Anne Schlafly Cori and Executive Director Tabitha Walter will join The Mike Essen Show on Tuesday, December 6th at 4 pm EST to discuss the dangers of the pro-marijuana agenda during the lame duck session. You can tune in here to listen.
In addition, Democrats have their eyes on an immigration bill that would allow large countries to obtain the majority of worker visas in the United States. The Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment “EAGLE” Act (H.R. 3648) would eliminate the per-country caps on employment-based green card applicants. This hands over a monopoly on visas to Chinese and Indian immigrants who can then fast-track their citizenship status through the corrupt H-1B system. This is unfair to immigrants who are waiting years to obtain legal citizenship by giving these countries priority admittance, and it weakens our national security by permitting them to establish a large presence in our businesses. Eagle Forum signed onto a coalition letter in May outlining our immigration priorities and recently joined another letter reiterating these priorities during the lame duck session.
With so many dangerous bills on the docket for the next couple of weeks, make sure you are signed up for our emails and alerts so that you don’t miss an opportunity to weigh in on these issues. The future of our country depends on an involved electorate. Be a part of the solution with Eagle Forum.