House GOP takes up trans sports ban
Democrats have slammed the bill as nationalizing attempts at the state level to limit the recognition of trans people’s fundamental rights.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The House this morning will vote on a bill that would make it a Title IX violation for recipients of federal funding to allow transgender girls or women to participate in girls’ and women’s athletic programs.
House GOP leadership describes the legislation, entitled the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023, as a response to “woke” policies that cheat cisgender girls and women from opportunities to achieve athletic success. (300,000 people ages 13 to 17 identify as trans, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law; the US population is almost 332 million.)
The bill comes after House Republicans passed the Parental Bill of Rights that GOP leaders say will ensure parents have the right to have a voice in their kids’ education while Democrats characterized it as a distraction from the Republican Party’s unwillingness to invest in affordable child care, the national teacher shortage, gun violence prevention and food security.
See also: “House Dems denounce the GOP’s signature education bill”
••• Trans erasure masked as serious legislation: “I think that a focus on trans girls is a useful strategy for them to frame this as a women and girls rights issue to really cover up what their agenda is, which is to perpetuate hate and erase trans people and discriminate against them, Shiwali Patel, told Supercreator at the US Capitol last month when the bill was debated in committee.
Patel said these bills are driven by organizations and individuals that have never fought for women and girls and express hostility towards LGBTQ+ rights in general.
“Many of them are led by groups that are far right, Christian fundamentalist groups like Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (ADF disagrees, of course.)
••• Why Dems are opposed: House Democratic leadership has formally recommended its members to against the legislation and slammed their Republican colleagues for nationalizing attempts at the state level to limit the recognition of trans people’s fundamental rights.
Democrats are also opposed because they say it’s unclear how sex would be determined in cases where the birth certificate in unclear or a child is born with both male and female sex organs or other sexual characteristics or with ambiguous genitalia. This inexactness opens all young women and girls up to invasive genitalia or menstrual cycle confirmation whether they identify as trans or not, critics say.
FYI: House Democrats on Wednesday were blocked from offering an amendment that would have prevented schools from infringing on female athletes’ right to privacy, including their personal and reproductive or sexual information. The amendment would have also strengthened accountability mechanisms when institutions fail to address sexual abuse in athletic environments.
Finally, House Democrats argue that the Supreme Court has ruled and multiple federal courts have affirmed protections for trans students against discrimination on the basis of their gender identity, which the bill contradicts.
See also: “What People Are *Actually* Saying About H.R. 734, the “‘Politics Over Participation Act’”
••• WH threatens veto: The White House announced its opposition to the bill in a statement this week and said President Joe Biden would veto it but the legislation will languish in the Senate so he won’t have to.
“At a time when transgender youth already face a nationwide mental health crisis, with half of transgender youth in a recent survey saying they have seriously considered suicide, a national law that further stigmatizes these children is completely unnecessary, hurts families and students, and would only put students at greater risk,” the White House said. “Discrimination has no place in our nation’s schools or on our playing fields.”
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DEMS UNMOVED BY McCARTHY’S PLAN ••• House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday afternoon took the floor to introduce the Limit, Save, Grow Act, a proposal that would lift the debt limit in exchange for significant cuts to the social safety net.
The goal is to unify House Republicans around a clear plan that strengthens McCarthy’s hand at the negotiating table with President Biden and congressional Democrats, who have been steadfast in their position that any conversations about future spending should be tabled until the federal government pays the bills it’s already incurred.
House GOP leaders are currently mobilizing the 218 votes required to pass the bill next week. And while some of the speaker’s usual antagonists have fallen in line — or indicated they will do so in the days ahead — it’s Congress and the House GOP we’re talking about so anything can happen.
••• What’s included: The proposal would lift the debt limit by $1.5 trillion or by March 2024, whichever comes first.
The debt limit is not typically a bargaining chip and lifting it has been historically viewed as a formality to maintain the full faith and credit of the US government and avoid a disastrous global default.
But House Republicans see their slim four-seat majority as leverage to shrink government investments in President Biden’s agenda.
It’s worth noting that this timetable would inject the debt limit back into the national political discourse eight months before a presidential election that could feature a rematch between former President Donald Trump and President Biden. Congressional Republicans voted three times during the Trump years to raise the debt ceiling without preconditions; the fact House conservatives are politicizing it now leaves them vulnerable to accusations of hypocrisy.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has raised this point in every floor speech he’s delivered on the topic this week.
The proposal also…
… caps federal spending at 2022 levels with increases capped to one percent per year for the next decade
… recoups billions of dollars in unspent COVID-19 relief funding
… repeals the tax and climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act
… rescinds President Biden’s student loan debt relief plan
… folds in GOP-backed energy and deregulation proposals
••• SNAP reprises role as policy battleground: McCarthy’s plan also includes work requirements for social programs like SNAP, a federal program providing low-income with financial assistance for food, although critics of these preconditions say they create more bureaucracy for people who need help to navigate not more workers investing in the economy.
“In other words, it’s punishing people for their status of not having the requisite number of hours to document,” Ellen Vollinger, SNAP Director at Food Research & Action Center, told Supercreator on Wednesday in an interview. “And we don’t think that nutrition and access to food, which is a human right or should be, should be dependent on proving of work hours.”
Vollinger said that many people who need assistance are underemployed or between jobs because there aren’t enough full-time “family-sustaining” jobs for people who want them.
“And a lot of the people who are working and getting SNAP, you also find going to food banks at some point in the month because even though they’re working and even though SNAP gives them some support its pretty modest support and they need something more to be able to feed their families.”
Democratic Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee said in a tweet that it’s time to come together and stop playing politics with Americans’ access to food.
“We need to make SNAP work for the 21st century,” Fetterman added. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and at USDA to get it done.”
In the weeks after President Biden got congressional Republicans to go on record as against slashing Medicare and Social Security at his State of the Union, his administration has turned to defending programs like SNAP and other food-assistance programs from GOP austerity measures.
ICYMI: “‘Let’s finish the job’: Biden’s State of the Union previews his re-election pitch”
Case in point: During a stop at a union hall in Maryland on Wednesday, President Biden attacked Republicans for putting low-income moms, babies and kids at risk of losing their WIC support.
“And here’s the thing: Do these painful cuts actually help the deficit? Do they actually reduce costs?” Biden said. “Well, the answer is — the honest answer is no.”
SCOTUS STILL UNDECIDED ON ABORTION PILL ••• The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended a pause on a district court ruling to ban the abortion drug mifepristone until Friday evening to give the justices more time to consider an appeal from the Biden administration.
The current pause was set to expire Wednesday night.
“In Texas, we’re no stranger to forum shopping by highly-partisan litigants – but this decision is uniquely dangerous. If allowed to stand, the consequences of banning this medication would be catastrophic for millions of American women and mothers,” Democratic Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Texas said at a press conference on House Democrats’ response to the ruling. “And the pain would fall most heavily on Black women, brown women, and low-income women of all races who have the least access to affordable, accessible medical care.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated on Wednesday that the White House is prepared for a long legal fight if necessary and defended the FDA’s evidence-based approval of mifepristone and the agency’s independent expert authority to review, approve, and regulate a wide range of prescription drugs.
••• Senate blocks repeal of VA abortion rule: The Senate on Wednesday voted against a resolution led by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama that would have prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from enforcing a rule that provides abortion care for veterans.
“Despite everything our veterans have given to our country, it’s outrageous, it’s wrong, it’s dangerous, and it ain’t gonna happen, not as long as I’m Leader,” Chuck Schumer said at a press conference ahead of the vote. “We together will fight for our veterans and make sure the Senate rejects this anti-choice legislation.”
Two Republicans — Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — voted against the resolution while Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted for it.
2024 WATCH ••• Montana nixes proposal targeting Tester’s seat: A legislative committee in Montana abandoned plans to alter the state’s 2024 Senate primary so only the top two candidates would advance to the general election next November, a move seen as a Republican-led attempt to undermine Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s re-election and deter third-party candidates from running and siphoning support from the GOP’s preferred candidates.
Montana is one of three states that Trump won in 2020 that Senate Democrats will be defending next year. Sherrod Brown has already announced his re-election campaign in Ohio while Joe Manchin of West Virginia has said he won’t announce his future plans until the end of the year.
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BY THE NUMBERS ••• 65: The minimum age for adults and those with weakened immune systems to get another dose of the reformulated COVID booster, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new recommendation is part of the CDC’s attempt to simplify COVID-19 vaccine recommendations and allow more flexibility for people at higher risk who want the option of added protection from additional COVID-19 vaccine doses.
All times Eastern:
President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (7:30 a.m.) before convening the fourth virtual leader-level meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (8:30 a.m.). Biden will also host a bilateral meeting with President Gustavo Petro of Colombia (2:30 p.m.).
Vice President Kamala Harris is in DC and has no public events on her schedule
Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will speak at the Creative Artists Agency’s “Countering Antisemitism: Awareness, Accountability, and Allyship” event in Los Angeles (11:45 a.m.).
The House is in at 9 a.m. with first votes on the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 at 10 a.m. and last votes at 10:45 a.m.
The Senate is in at 11:15 a.m. for votes on an amendment to the Fire Grants and Safety Act before a vote on final passage at 1:45 p.m.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Madison Mainwaring on the struggle to save ballet from itself … Tammie Teclemariam on why bananas are about to become this summer’s hottest flavor … Robert Katzberg on why a new ruling in the E. Jean Carroll trial should have Trump very worried … Aymann Ismail on the $2.7 billion sequel to the Dominion Case against Fox News … Margaret Hartmann on how the Rupert Murdoch family drama inspired Succession … Bryan Walsh on why we should run elite college admissions like a lottery … Rebecca Leber on how US air pollution is getting better and worse … Dayna Issawi in conversation with Yung Miami on how her life has grown somewhat smaller as it has become increasingly grand … Ed Yong on how long COVID is being erased again … Elaine Godfrey on the new anti-abortion movement’s plan to end abortion … Jerusalem Demsas on why California’s housing crisis isn’t what you think it is … Katherine J. Wu on a more fly-free way to deal with food waste
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