Ex-Im Bank Robbed of Good Nominee


Ex-Im Bank Robbed of Good Nominee

December 20, 2017

Former Congressman Scott Garrett, President Trump's conservative pick to head and reform the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, was hit from both sides in his hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. Like Trump, the New Jersey representative opposed the agency during his time in Congress. Both men had hoped to abolish the bank but changed their minds once they realized what a principled leader could do to reform the organization. However, liberals helped defeat Garrett, citing his outstanding fiscal and social conservatism, including his belief that marriage is the union between one man and one woman. Other groups like the National Association of Manufacturers launched ads against his confirmation.

A well-respected fighter for fiscal discipline and an opponent of crony capitalism, Scott Garrett had railed against the excesses of the Ex-Im Bank making him the perfect nominee to reform this troubled agency. Unfortunately, the supporters of the Ex-Im Bank on both sides of the aisle defeated his nomination with two Republicans joining all Democrats on the committee to defeat his nomination.

None should have opposed Scott Garrett's nomination for being a reformer, since this agency needs it so badly. The Ex-Im Bank had seven hundred and ninety-two fraud claims documented between October 2007, and March 2014, and many of the investigations into these claims are ongoing. In addition, since 2009 forty-eight criminal judgments have been rendered against Ex-Im Bank beneficiaries or employees, yielding sixty-six years of prison sentences. The Ex-Im Bank needed Rep. Garrett as a leader who can institute reforms that ensure taxpayer dollars are not being wasted by fraudulent bureaucrats. Now without the steady hand of a reformer like Rep. Garrett, conservatives have little reason to support continued funding for the Ex-Im Bank. If huge businesses like Boeing, which benefit from the taxpayer supported agency, oppose having a reformer at the head, then the Trump administration should shut down the bank, or at a minimum leave the board vacancies unfilled so that it cannot function.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Bill Seeks to Shield Churches from Disaster Discrimination

December 20, 2017

Last night, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled an $81 billion emergency supplemental spending bill (HR 4667) to provide relief for recovery efforts in areas struck by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as to aid areas of California beset by wildfires. This bill, which is expected to be attached to the end-of-year spending bill, is in addition to the previously approved $51.75 billion slated for disaster relief, bringing the total dispensed in emergency spending to over double the $60 billion spent in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

H.R. 4667 may prove historic for more than its sheer size. Included in the bill text is language from the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2017 (H.R. 2405, S. 1823 "Federal Assistance Bill") introduced by Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.) in the House and by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in the Senate. The Federal Assistance Bill was written to ensure that the federal government, via FEMA, does not discriminate against churches in the provision of grants and loans to non-profit organizations that have been damaged or destroyed by a major disaster.

If passed as part of the emergency spending bill, the Federal Assistance Bill would amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Specifically, the bill amends the definition of "private nonprofit facility" in the Stafford Act to explicitly include "houses of worship" (currently the definition includes museums, zoos, performing arts facilities, community arts centers, community centers, libraries, homeless shelters, senior citizen centers, rehabilitation facilities, shelter workshops, and facilities that provide health and safety services, but not churches).

According to current FEMA policy, churches and other religious nonprofits must be denied disaster relief. In response to this, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, three Texas churches have filed a lawsuit against FEMA. They, like many others, find it inconceivable that our federal government will give funds to repair the zoo that was damaged in a natural disaster, but leaves the church next door, which suffered through the same devastation, to fend for itself.

Adding a heavy dose of irony to this blatant discrimination is the fact that FEMA regularly uses these churches to assist in their on-the-ground disaster relief efforts. Becket, which is representing the three churches in their lawsuit, has pointed out that FEMA uses these very same churches to "shelter dozens of evacuees, distribute meals, and provide medical care" while simultaneously denying them access to the same federal funds given to their nonreligious neighbors. In their lawsuit, the churches are challenging FEMA's policy as a violation of the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment. To quote Diana Verm, a Becket attorney affiliated with the case, "Hurricane Harvey didn't cherry-pick its victims; FEMA shouldn't cherry-pick who it helps."

While that lawsuit is ongoing, the Federal Assistance Bill seeks to correct this travesty in our nation's laws, and ensure that nonprofits are not discriminated against purely because of their religious affiliation.

Slight changes have been made to the Federal Assistance Bill's original text, a necessary compromise to ease its path through Congress. Language from a 2013 iteration of the bill, introduced by Representatives Chris Smith and Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), has been adopted to its 2017 counterpart. This language would guarantee that all federal funds are used strictly for rebuilding purposes, not for anything religious in nature. To put it plainly, the government would only be paying for the necessary brick and mortar, it wouldn't be replacing lost Bibles.

Despite this concession, including the Federal Assistance Bill's language in the newest emergency spending package is paramount to protecting our nations churches and houses of worship. Natural disasters do not discriminate, and neither should our federal government.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


FRC on the Double

December 20, 2017

We have some amazing news at Family Research Council that will allow you to literally double your donation. A generous supporter has pledged a $225,000 matching gift! This means that your gift of $25 instantly becomes $50 now. Your $50 gift becomes $100. A donation of $500 automatically becomes $1,000 to help defend and advance faith, family and freedom.

In less than two weeks 2017 will be over and with it, any opportunity to deduct your charitable donations for the year. Now is the time to take full advantage of this tax benefit as every donation to Family Research Council is fully tax deductible.

But there's another urgent reason we're asking you to give now. We're anxious to hit the ground running in 2018 with so much promise and so much at stake. There are important state legislative victories we can win with God-honoring policies. We are seeing promising pro-life legislation happening as taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood continues to get cut. Next year we could very well see another replacement for the Supreme Court which will be an all-out battle for the soul of America.

To meet this challenge and seize this moment in America's history, we simply must finish strong with our finances in 2017. It's extremely important that we end the year in a strong financial position so it won't be a drag on us after the new year. With so much momentum, we're asking you to help with a generous gift at this year-end to provide the wind in our sails into the New Year.

Our opponents are also ready to start right out of the gate and for them, money is never a problem. From tech billionaires to the Hollywood elite to millions of our own tax money, these enemies of liberty are ready to go full force. We cannot -- we must not -- be complacent.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.



Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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