Building Bridges on Infrastructure

Building Bridges on Infrastructure

Building Bridges on Infrastructure

May 10, 2021

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday that Democrats should push through an infrastructure package without Republican support. He didn't "agree" that Biden should wait for "consultation and dialogue" with Republicans. "The bottom line is the American people want results." You'd think from his comments that Democrats had already offered to negotiate, and that Republicans had stubbornly refused to make reasonable compromises. In fact, although President Biden pitched his $2.2 trillion infrastructure package over a month ago, he is meeting with top Congressional Republicans today for the first time.

Sanders got one thing right: the American people do want results. It's shocking how little progress the U.S. Congress can make on such an overwhelmingly bipartisan issue as infrastructure. Despite years of rhetoric, America's infrastructure is still awaiting its first major overhaul since President Eisenhower founded the interstate system. But the American people don't want to get runover by the radical policies that Democrats have crammed into the bill that have nothing to do with infrastructure.

Democrats are trying to leverage the popular demand for improved infrastructure in America by strong-arming Republicans into accepting a boat load of radical progressive wish list items. Only seven percent of President Biden's plan concerns roads and bridges. His plan includes a corporate tax hike, green energy subsidies, and union bailouts. The bill would dedicate a stunning $174 billion towards building a national network of electric vehicle charging stations. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) countered the multi-trillion dollar package (to which infrastructure is only the wrapper) with a much smaller plan "which deals with what all of us agree is infrastructure."

President Biden can call for unity until he's blue in the face, but that doesn't make it true, or even make him sincere. His actions only demonstrate the unprecedented power the extreme Left wields over his administration. In fact, moderate rhetoric masking extreme policies characterize every one of the Democrats' legislative objectives -- "Covid relief," the infrastructure packaging, the plan to throttle American jobs, the Corrupt Politicians Act (H.R. 1), the (in)Equality Act, defunding the police, the American Families Plan. The deception is endless.

I hope you will join me in encouraging conservatives to resist the Left's massive funding bills, regardless of what they call them. If you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, you should certainly never judge a bill by its title.

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

HHS Announces that Ideology Is More Important than Patients

May 10, 2021

Xavier Becerra, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is wasting no time in pushing the radical Biden administration agenda. Today, HHS announced that it will begin interpreting and enforcing both Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and Title IX's prohibition of "sex discrimination" to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

During the Obama administration, HHS issued a regulation redefining sex along these same lines, but it was never implemented due to litigation. Then, during the Trump administration, HHS finalized a rule that maintained robust protection of civil rights, as well as a scientific understanding of the word "sex."

The Trump-era rule was a great victory for science-based health care. If patients, including those who identify as transgender, are to receive appropriate care, medicine must be based in science. Here are a few examples of the poor patient care that results when science is not foundational to medicine:

  • A biological woman who identified as a man and was listed as a man on medical records was assessed for kidney disease as a man. This resulted in treatment missteps that nearly resulted in death.
  • A biological woman who identified as a man appeared to be a masculine, overweight man to hospital staff. Therefore, they had no reason to think the patient was pregnant and in labor. Sadly, the patient did not receive immediate care and delivered a stillborn baby. The doctor noted that the male classification "threw us off" from the patient's actual medical needs.

Today's HHS announcement will only lead to more incidents of poor patient care like the ones noted above. It could also lead to medical professionals who understand the medical harms of hormones and surgery for "gender transition" purposes being silent about these harms, out of fear of being sued and punished for "discrimination." Furthermore, it could lead to significant erosion of the conscience rights of medical professionals who have moral objections to "gender transition."

As noted by Roger Severino, former Director of the Office of Civil Rights at HHS, "Becerra is trying to change the fundamental practice of medicine and science by the stroke of a pen [... and, ...] "instead of respecting scientists and doctors who recognize objective biological realities in their professions, [he is branding] them as bigots at risk of losing HHS funds."

This new HHS policy is an update based on the Supreme Court's Bostock v. Clayton County decision (which redefined "sex discrimination" in employment law), and an executive order regarding this case. Earlier this year, in response to the court's decision, President Biden issued an executive order that mandated the adoption of Bostock's redefinition throughout the federal government -- not just in areas having to do with employment -- and specifically mentioned Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as does this HHS announcement.

This HHS announcement is just another step in an already long line of actions by this administration to obliterate women's sports. Another executive order issued by Biden called for the promotion of the LGBT agenda in schools. Meanwhile, the Department of Education (ED) has withdrawn the previous administration's letter of findings against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for violating Title IX by allowing biological boys to compete in women's sports, and archived a Trump administration memo on Bostock stating that "sex" in Title IX was still defined biologically. In addition, the Biden Department of Justice issued a memo applying Bostock to Title IX.

Today's announcement states that HHS will follow the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), our nation's flagship religious liberty statute. However, this administration supports multiple, ongoing legislative efforts to gut RFRA. Thankfully, that hasn't happened yet, and there is also legislation at the federal and state levels to protect both women's sports and minors from medical experimentation. It remains to be seen what the Biden administration's broad application of Bostock will ultimately mean for medicine, women's sports, and conscience rights. Let us work and pray that more harm is not done.

Montana Is Helping Lead the Way on Common Sense

May 10, 2021

Despite other Republican governors folding beneath political pressure, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R) has not shied away from taking the bull by the horns. On Friday, Gianforte signed HB 112, a bill prohibiting biological males from competing in girls' sports -- a commonsense protection that has been, sadly, recently rejected by two of his Republican counterparts.

Governor Gianforte has not been one to try and evade controversy. Earlier this year, he signed SB 215, a statewide Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). As usual, leftist activists insisted such legislation was some sort of get-out-of-jail free card for "discriminatory bigots." In fact, SB 215 was a state version of the original, federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was passed unanimously by the House and 97-3 by the Senate -- with Senators Schumer, Kennedy, and Biden all voting in favor. What has changed so drastically that in a few short decades bipartisan, commonsense legislation is shamed, and supporters are shunned, ostracized, and gaslighted? Well, some GOP leaders have attempted to toe a line of sorts by disowning their affiliation with legislation deemed deplorable by the Left.

Governor Gianforte could have very quietly fallen in line with his timid colleagues who have abandon commonsense protection that their legislatures have so eagerly handed them to sign. Earlier this year, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) vetoed HB 1217 -- a bill like Montana's sports protection bill. Sadly, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R) also followed in step with Noem, vetoing practical protections prohibiting biological males from stealing podiums intended for and belonging to women working hard to compete in sports. Though Noem's abandonment of common sense is startling, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) took far more severe action when he vetoed Arkansas HB 1570, the SAFE Act, a bill banning gender transition procedures from being done to minors before they're old enough to consent.

The Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act went further than South Dakota's HB 1217 by addressing the root of the issue: minors who are subjected to gender transition procedures. Whereas Noem folded to allow biological males to compete in girls' sports, Governor Hutchinson failed to protect minors from the life-altering, irreversible procedures that so dangerously threaten the health of the boys and girls who undergo them. (Thankfully, the Arkansas legislature handily overrode the governor's veto.)

However, Gianforte's signing of Montana's sports bill is a beacon of hope to those frustrated at recent governors' failures. Senate Bill 112 is an encouraging watermark in a rising river of positive legislation that is increasingly responding to dangerous ideologies being propagated at the expense of adolescents' health and wellbeing. Montana joins the company of seven states whose legislators have passed protections for girls' sports. Perhaps as importantly, the signing of SB 112 illuminates the movement and momentum to protect all children from ideologies that corrode common sense.

In hindsight, we may conclude that the Arkansas' legislature's courage in overriding Governor Hutchinson's veto of the SAFE Act catapulted the movement to protect minors from the onslaught of dangerous transgender ideologies.

Likewise, Governor Gianforte's signing of SB 112 and SB 215 is a breath of fresh air. His actions are encouraging and should be noted by his Republican counterparts, who should also note that the Arkansas SAFE Act broke the issue's glass ceiling by defying the status quo and addressing an underlying need to protect minors. With the SAFE Act, Arkansas not only became the first state to ban gender transitions on minors, but it paved the way for the dozens of other states considering protections for minors and protections for women's sports.

Montana is the latest, but hopefully not the last!