The House and Senate finally wrapped up their final business last week just in time for Christmas and to allow us a short rest before the new year and new Congress. Now is a great time to make an end-of-the-year donation to Eagle Forum that will allow us to continue the important work we do not only in Washington, D.C. but throughout the nation. In true Lame Duck fashion, the last week of the Congressional session kept us on our toes and on the edge of our seats! Democrats were pushing their leftist agenda items hard, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was willing to negotiate. Thanks to some hard-working conservative members, we were able to celebrate a few wins among the losses.
Let’s go over the wins.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has been under scrutiny since liberals have introduced “woke” policies that attempt to erase women and socially experiment with our military. One such policy that has even been pushed by squishy Republicans is the requirement that women between the ages of 18-25 register for the selective service. When last year’s Senate version of the NDAA included this provision due to the votes of Republican Senate Armed Service Committee (SASC) members, the grassroots made their voices heard. The backlash was so loud that Senators offered a new version of the NDAA without a provision to draft women. We hoped that future efforts would be crushed thanks to the American people holding their elected officials accountable. But, as always, they didn’t learn their lesson.
The 2023 Senate draft of the NDAA included a provision to draft our daughters with seven SASC Republicans voting in favor. In an incredible turn of events, the House version did not include this provision forcing the House and Senate to work out the differences. House Republicans kept it out and avoided a codification of the dangerous policy to force women to register for the selective service.
That wasn’t the only win in the NDAA bill. House and Senate Republicans were able to include a full repeal of the military COVID vaccination mandate. Despite the White House’s strong opposition, both chambers moved the bill forward and the President signed it into law. Sadly, the bill did not include a provision to reinstate those military members who were dismissed because of their refusal to get vaccinated but we are hopeful that the new Congress will continue the effort to correct this mistake.
Additionally, despite Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) best efforts, no pro-marijuana language made it into any bill in the final weeks of this Congress. Policies such as marijuana decriminalization, expungement (HOPE Act), tax breaks for cannabis businesses, unregulated products, and legalization of financial investments into the industry (SAFE Banking Act) threatened “must-pass” bills such as the NDAA and the government funding package. Bipartisan interest seemed strong in the beginning, but a memo sent out by the Department of Justice highlighting the flaws of the SAFE Banking Act weakened its chances of passage. Congress decided to leave these provisions behind. We will be diligent in opposing these measures this year.
Now for the losses.
One of the more devasting blows was the passage of the (Dis)Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404) which codified same-sex marriage with little religious liberty protections. After the bill passed the House with the support of 47 Republicans with no religious carveout for individuals and businesses, conservative Senators knew this would be an uphill battle in their chamber. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) placed an amendment into the bill to grant protections for religious institutions. However, this left out individuals who still want to practice their beliefs while employed elsewhere. Senators such as Mike Lee (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and James Lankford (R-OK) introduced amendments to strengthen religious freedom for all Americans, but the measures failed. The final bill passed the Senate by a vote of 61-36, passed the House by a vote of 258-169, and was signed by President Biden with a drag queen in attendance.
The last big item that liberals were able to pass was the massive $1.7 trillion omnibus bill to fund the government. The House and Senate rejected conservative plans to fund the government until the new Congress is seated in January via a continuing resolution (CR). The Democrats, in contrast, wanted a year-long omnibus so that they could have one last spending plan full of their priorities. This included funding for “family planning” (a.k.a. contraception and abortion), earmarks, transgender services, “anti-racist” training, gender equity programs, and measures that worsen the border crisis. Once again, squishy Republicans moved this bill forward. The Senate passed the omnibus by a 68-29 vote and the House passed it by a 225-201 vote.
Both chambers will return to Washington, D.C. on January 3rd to kick off the 118th Congress. Some of the first decisions they will make will be on who will assume leadership roles such as Speaker and the rules that will structure the legislative process. We are hearing rumors that Republicans on the Rules Committee have plans to stop proxy voting and to open the Capitol fully to visitors again! While good legislation may still be held up by the Senate over the next couple of years, the Republican majority in the House will hopefully have the courage to stop the flow of terrible legislation that we have witnessed recently. We are looking forward to a new Congress and will continue to fight for conservative issues that impact the family, Life, the Constitution, and our beloved United States of America!