To date, the administration of President Donald Trump has taken significant action on issues of concern to social conservatives -- life, family, and religious liberty:
· On January 23, President Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy, which blocks funding for international organizations that perform or promote abortion. This new program is known as Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA), which now covers $8.8 billion in family planning and global health funds that go to organizations abroad (none of whom may perform or promote abortion).
· On February 22, the Department of Education, in conjunction with the Department of Justice (DOJ) rescinded President Obama's guidance that required public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and showers of their choice.
· On April 7, President Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Justice Gorsuch has already developed a reputation as an originalist who will rule the right way on religious liberty issues. Gorsuch is representative of President Trump's judicial nominees overall.
· On May 4, President Trump signed an Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty (known as the "Religious Liberty Executive Order"), broadly setting forth religious liberty as a policy priority of the administration, and requiring all federal agencies to take action to protect it. The order also more specifically addressed conscience protections, forthcoming guidance from the DOJ, and religious liberty in the context of free speech.
· On August 25, President Trump announced changes to the Obama administration's Department of Defense (DOD) policy which had allowed military personnel to serve even if they openly self-identified as transgender. (A DOD study found the Obama administration's policy to be detrimental to military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion.)
· On September 7, DOJ filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court defending the religious freedom rights of baker Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This filing is representative of other actions defending religious freedom taking place throughout the Trump administration DOJ.
· On October 6, DOJ issued guidance and an implementing memo (as instructed by the Religious Liberty Executive Order) to all federal agencies explaining religious freedom law and how religious liberty must be protected. This guidance laid out a broad defense of religious liberty based on multiple statutes and provided each federal agency with guidelines for protecting religious liberty.
Also on October 6, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed two regulations to deal with the Obamacare "HHS contraceptive mandate" that had for years violated conscience and religious liberty. These new regulations exempt organizations that have moral or religious objections to purchasing insurance that includes coverage of contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs and devices.
· On January 16, DOJ filed an amicus brief with the District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on behalf of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. The Archdiocese had wanted to promote a religious message during the Christmas holiday but, had been denied advertising space within the District's public transit system.
· On January 18, DOJ filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue defending the First Amendment rights of parents and students who attend a religious school, to participate in a private school scholarship program.
· On January 18, HHS announced a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within its Office of Civil Rights (OCR). This new division was established to enforce federal laws that protect conscience rights and religious freedom.
· On January 19, HHS issued a new proposed regulation on conscience protections related to abortion. Specifically, the regulation proposed to implement 25 laws that protect pro-life healthcare entities against discrimination by federal agencies -- or state or local governments receiving federal funds -- due to their objections to participating in abortion, sterilization, and other morally objectionable procedures.
· On January 24, Sam Brownback was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. In choosing Brownback for this role, President Trump demonstrated the administration's commitment to religious freedom by choosing someone with gravitas and experience on the issue.
· On March 23, 2018, the White House and DOD issued a new policy allowing existing personnel to remain in the military while preventing those who have been diagnosed with "gender dysphoria" or had undergone gender transition surgery from joining the military. Those who are transgender and stable for 36 months could join so long as they serve in accordance with their biological sex.
· On April 26, Mike Pompeo was confirmed as Secretary of State. In choosing Pompeo for this position, President Trump chose someone who cares deeply about religious liberty and will make it a priority to see the issue advanced through this administration.
· On April 30, during a press conference with Nigeria's president, President Trump raised the issue of religious freedom and the killing of Christians in that country -- bringing attention to an issue that had largely been neglected by other government officials.
· On May 22, HHS issued a new proposed regulation reversing the Title X family planning regulations implemented by President Clinton. The proposed regulation would restore the separation of abortion services from the federal Title X family planning program, which President Reagan first implemented. The proposed regulation would also ensure parents are more involved in the decisions of minors to obtain services from Title X clinics. It reverses the discriminatory abortion referral requirement the Clinton regulations implemented and is poised to put a dent into Planned Parenthood's roughly $60 million annual revenues from the Title X program.
· On June 13, DOJ announced the Place to Worship Initiative, designed to increase enforcement and public awareness of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUPIA). This federal law protects places of worship and other religious uses of property. Through this initiative, federal prosecutors will receive training about legal protections for houses of worship.
· On July 24-26, the State Department held the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Political and civil society leaders from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C. for a three-day summit to discuss religious freedom issues and solutions. The Potomac Declaration, issued at the Ministerial, made a strong statement about the state of religious freedom around the globe and provided a plan of action for promoting global religious freedom. The U.S. also announced the International Religious Freedom Fund (to provide emergency assistance to victims of religiously motivated discrimination and abuse around the world) and the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response Initiative (which has provided nearly $373 million to help persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in northern Iraq restore their communities). The U.S. was among 25 countries who signed a statement condemning terrorism and the abuse of religious believers by non-state actors.
· On July 30, DOJ announced a Religious Liberty Task Force to fully implement religious liberty guidance and policy across all components of the DOJ.
· On August 1, the Trump administration relied on Executive Order 13818 (which builds on Global Magnitsky Act authority) to sanction two Turkish officials over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson due to his Christian faith. This Executive Order ultimately resulted in Pastor Brunson's release.
· On September 24, HHS terminated a $15,900 contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources to procure fetal tissue from aborted babies for research. The termination of this contract led HHS to announce an audit of all acquisitions and research involving human fetal tissue to ensure consistency with statutes and regulations.
· On October 6, President Trump's nominee Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is the second constitutional originalist the president saw confirmed to the Court.
· On November 7, HHS finalized its two regulations to protect conscience and religious liberty from long-running problems with the Obamacare "HHS contraceptive mandate." These two final regulations exempt organizations with either a moral or religious objection to purchasing insurance with coverage of contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs and devices. The regulations took effect on January 14, 2019.
· On November 9, HHS proposed a new regulation to address an abortion surcharge hidden in many plans purchased on the Obamacare exchange. This proposed regulation would enforce the requirement that abortion surcharges are to be collected separately from other insurance premiums. This requirement was not closely followed under the Obama administration, leading HHS to now more strictly enforce the separation of abortion payments from other payments.
On December 26, DOJ filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court defending a publicly-displayed cross-shaped veteran's memorial that had been challenged as a violation of the Establishment Clause. This position is representative of the Trump administration's originalist approach to the Constitution concerning First Amendment rights and other issues. Such an approach results in legal analysis that interprets the law rather than injecting policy preferences into it.
· On January 18, HHS notified California that its law requiring pregnancy resource centers to post notices about how to obtain an abortion violated the pro-life Weldon and Coates-Snowe Amendments. This marks the first time that the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division at HHS found a state in violation of these laws. This demonstrates the administration's commitment to enforcing conscience protections and its pro-life priorities.
· On January 19, at the request of 169 members of Congress and 49 senators, President Trump sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in which he promised to veto any legislation that weakens current pro-life Federal policies and laws. This letter was a message to the new Democrat ma jority in the House that longstanding pro-life protections like the Hyde Amendment and safeguards protecting the conscience rights of health care providers are not negotiable.
· On February 22, HHS announced final rule changes governing the Title X family planning program. Consistent with federal law, these rule changes ensured that Title X clinics would be financially and physically separate from abortion facilities and would not refer patients for abortions. Since the implementation of the rule, Planned Parenthood and several pro-abortion states voluntarily decided to withdraw from the program rather than quit performing abortions or referring patients for abortions.
· On March 8, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback criticized China's poor religious freedom record in a speech he delivered in Hong Kong.
· On April 12, the Trump administration's policy on military service by those with gender dysphoria went into effect. This policy will help halt the deterioration of military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion caused by social experimentation in the military.
· On May 2, HHS announced a final rule to expand the structure in which federal conscience laws are enforced. In 2011, President Obama issued a rule that enforced only three federal conscience provisions. The new regulation under President Trump covers 25 existing statutes, which will be enforced by the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, part of the HHS OCR.
· On May 5, at the World Health Assembly, the Trump administration issued a joint statement on behalf of the United States and eight other nations calling on other countries to join an effort to focus on women's health issues that unify rather than create dissension among members (like abortion and sexual and reproductive health). This statement was the first action taken under the administration's new Protecting Life in Global Health Policy (PLGHP), which seeks to build a global coalition to promote women's health while also protecting unborn life and strengthening the family. This policy works in conjunction with the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) program, which restricts funding for organizations abroad that perform or promote abortion.
· On May 24, HHS proposed a new regulation that clarifies that discrimination on the basis of sex in section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act was to be interpreted under the plain meaning of the word. Therefore, it does not include "gender identity" or "termination of pregnancy" as set forth by a 2016 Obama administration regulation. The HHS regulation will continue to enforce existing civil rights protections; however, it makes clear that the federal government will not force physicians to participate in gender reassignment surgeries or abortions.
· On June 5, after an extensive audit into fetal tissue research, the Trump administration announced a major change in the enforcement of research contracts. HHS would no longer conduct intramural (internal) research using tissue from aborted babies and would greatly increase the ethics rules and safeguards that govern extramural (external) fetal tissue research contracts. All new external contracts will be subject to a congressionally authorized ethics advisory board, making it much more difficult for fetal tissue research contracts to be awarded by the National Institute of Health.
· On July 16-18, the State Department held the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new global initiative, the International Religious Freedom Alliance, meant to provide a way for like-minded countries to work together to advance religious freedom. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave a compelling speech condemning the use of technology to track and control the lives of religious minorities. The United States was among 14 signatory countries on a statement of concern about technology and religious freedom. The U.S. was also one of 34 countries that signed a statement of concern on counterterrorism as a pretext for the repression of religious freedom; one of 27 countries that signed a statement condemning blasphemy, apostasy, or other laws that restrict religious freedom; and was one of 46 countries that signed a statement that called upon government officials to condemn attacks on places of worship and to work with religious communities to protect these places. At this event, the State Department and USAID also announced new religious freedom training programs for foreign service officers.
· On July 16, the State Department placed targeted sanctions on Burmese military officials for their human rights and religious freedom violations committed against the Rohingya Muslim population.
· On July 18, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued a joint letter on International Partnerships that called states to join a coalition of countries that seek to advocate against pro-abortion policies at the World Health Organization and the United Nations (UN).
· In August 2019, DOJ filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in two important religious liberty cases, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Bostock v. Clayton County/Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda. Through these filings, DOJ advanced a biologically binary definition of sex and those who operate accordingly, whether because of science or religious belief.
· On August 15, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a new regulation that would clarify the scope and application of religious exemptions for federal contractors. Under the Obama administration, the scope of religious exemption at the DOL was severely narrowed. The current DOL relied on the history of our nation's preservation of religious liberty, the First Amendment, and Supreme Court decisions to re-invigorate the exemption to its historical and constitutional parameters.
· On August 28, the HHS OCR issued a notice of violation to the University of Vermont Medical Center for forcing a nurse to participate in an abortion despite a conscience objection. This marks the third time that the HHS Religious Freedom Division under President Trump has investigated a conscience complaint related to participating in or promoting abortion.
· On September 10, the State Department placed targeted sanctions on Russian officials for their religious freedom violations and torture of Jehovah's Witnesses.
· On September 23, President Trump hosted a meeting during the U.N. General Assembly and gave a speech solely on the topic of religious freedom. During the speech, he announced a U.S. policy initiative to protect places of worship, pledging an additional $25 million in funding to protect religious sites and relics. President Trump also announced the U.S. would form a coalition within the business community to protect religious freedom. This is the first time a U.S. president has hosted a meeting focused solely on religious freedom at the UN.
· On September 24, President Trump discussed the need to protect religious freedom during his UN General Assembly speech, in which he also discussed China and Iran -- two major violators of religious freedom.
· On September 25, HHS Secretary Alex Azar delivered a statement at the UN General Assembly stating that there is no international right to abortion, and that the U.S. does not support ambiguous terms like "sexual and reproductive health" in UN documents.
· On October 7, the Department of Commerce blacklisted 28 Chinese companies whose surveillance technology products are used to systematically oppress and control -- and violate the religious freedom -- of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, China.
· On October 11, 2019, Attorney General Barr delivered a striking defense of religious liberty at Notre Dame Law School. He noted, "[t]he imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety. It reflects the Framers' belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government." The Attorney General proceeded to remind the audience that religion gives us the "right rules to live by." Barr highlighted the recent attacks on religious liberty, and that the DOJ under his leadership has been fighting back and protecting religious liberty.
· On November 14, the U.S. government lead a statement on behalf of itself and 10 other countries at the Nairobi Summit, once again calling upon the international community to focus on areas of consensus instead of divisive issues like abortion and sexual and reproductive health.
· On November 19, HHS issued a rule removing burdensome requirements that all grantees, including those that are faith-based, must accept same-sex marriages and profess gender identity as valid in order to be eligible to participate in grant programs. This included the adoption and foster care space, where these requirements had been used to shut down faith-based providers of foster care and adoption.
· On November 27, President Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law, which affirms Hong Kong's semi-autonomous status and protects against Chinese government encroachment, which is a threat to Hong Kong's religious freedom.
· On December 19, the Treasury Department sanctioned two Iranian judges responsible for human rights violations. One of the judges was known to violate the rights of Iran's Christian and Baha'i religious minority communities
On December 20, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a final regulation to address the abortion surcharge hidden in many plans purchased on the Obamacare exchange. This final rule aligns federal regulations with section 1303 of the Affordable Care Act, ensuring that consumers know their health care plan covers abortion and that funding for abortion is kept separate from all other covered services.
· On January 16, HHS Secretary Alex Azar hosted 34 countries for a meeting on how to promote women's health and protect the lives of the unborn. This meeting followed an invitation sent by Secretary Azar and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to 70 different countries inviting them to join a coalition to oppose international efforts to enshrine abortion as a human right.
· On January 16, the Departments of Education and Justice issued guidance on constitutionally protected prayer and religious expression in public elementary and secondary schools. This guidance ensures that prayer in schools is properly protected and not unconstitutionally prohibited or curtailed.
· On January 16, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies providing guidance on Executive Order (EO) 1379 8 "Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty." In order to protect the ability of religious organizations to operate in the public square, this memo required the agencies to review the EO and publish policies on how they will comply.
· On January 17, nine federal agencies (the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Justice, Labor,Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development) proposed rules leveling the playing field for faith-based organizations wishing to participate in grant programs or become a contractor. The rules eliminated two requirements placed on faith-based organizations that were not placed on secular organizations.
· On January 22, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at HHS approved a family planning waiver for Texas to implement a state-run Medicaid program that excludes abortion providerslike Planned Parenthood. This makes Texas the first state to receive Medicaid funding for a family planning program that does not include abortion providers.
· On January 24, President Trump became the first sitting president to give remarks in person at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. In his address he stated the eternal truth that every child is a sacred gift from God and reiterated his effort to defend the dignity and sanctity of every human life.
· Also on January 24, HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced live at Family Research Council's ProLifeCon event that HHS issued a notice of violation to California for violating the federal Weldon Amendment by mandating all health insurers provide coverage for abortion. California's abortion coverage mandate has deprived over 28,000 residents of plans that do not cover abortion. This marks the second time that HHS has issued a notice of violation to California for violating federal conscience laws and is the fourth enforcement action taken by the HHS OCR's Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.
What Trump’s new North American trade deal actually does - By Paul Wiseman - January 29, 2020
WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Donald Trump signed a revamped trade agreement with Mexico and Canada into law Wednesday, he kept a campaign pledge to improve upon a deal that he had long condemned.
His U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement replaces a 26-year-old version that he and other critics said was a job-killing disaster for the United States. The president’s overhaul is designed to update the pact to reflect the rise of e-commerce and other technological changes and to do more to encourage factories to move production to the United States or keep it there.
But the USMCA doesn’t represent a revolutionary change in regional trade or assure that many Americans stand to receive financial gains. What it does, more than anything, is restore certainty to $1.4 trillion-a-year in North American commerce. And in that way, it could provide some economic benefit.
Here are some questions and answers about the new deal:
WHAT IS USMCA?
The pact is Trump’s replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which took effect in 1994. NAFTA slashed tariffs and erased most trade barriers within the continent. In doing so, NAFTA unleashed a burst of trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico.
In the wake of NAFTA, American farmers, in particular, enjoyed increased access to their neighbors’ large markets. But NAFTA also encouraged U.S. manufacturers to move factories south of the border to capitalize on cheaper Mexican labor.
Supporters of the deal said it created a powerful regional bloc — a competitive counter to Europe and East Asia — with each NAFTA country able to take advantage of its strengths: In Mexico, low-cost manufacturing. In the United States and Canada, high-skilled labor and proximity to cutting-edge research.
Trump demanded a revamped deal that reduced incentives for companies to move to Mexico. And he threatened to abandon NAFTA entirely if he couldn’t get what he wanted. Negotiations on a replacement began in August 2017. The three countries signed USMCA in late 2018. After delays and intense negotiations between the administration and congressional Democrats, the House ratified the deal in December and the Senate this month, both with bipartisan support.
HOW DOES USMCA CHANGE TRADE AMONG THE THREE COUNTRIES?
Trump’s version mostly continues to allow the free flow of trade across North American borders of the three countries. But it updates the pact to reflect the rise of e-commerce and other aspects of the digital economy that didn’t exist when NAFTA was negotiated.
For instance, USMCA prohibits tariffs on digital products. It lets companies transfer data across borders without encountering discriminatory barriers. And it bars countries from requiring firms to store data within their borders, thereby allowing companies to do so wherever it makes the most business sense.
The deal also gives U.S. farmers more access to the Canadian dairy market. It forces the Canadian province of British Columbia to drop measures that prevented American wines from being sold on grocery shelves along with local vintages.
DOES USMCA DO ANYTHING TO PROTECT U.S. MANUFACTURING JOBS?
Yes. To qualify for USMCA’s duty-free benefits, 75% of a car and its parts must come from within North America, up from 62.5% under NAFTA. That means more content would have to be homegrown in higher-wage North America, not imported more cheaply from China and elsewhere.
At least 40% of vehicles would also have to originate in places where workers earn at least $16 an hour. That would benefit the United States or Canada — not Mexico, where auto assembly workers are paid a fraction of that amount. For car buyers, that wage requirement is likely to increase the cost of vehicles built in North America.
Under USMCA, Mexico is required to formally authorize workers to form independent unions. Mexican unions had traditionally been co-opted by employers and the government and had done little for workers. Laborers have been fired, for example, for trying to bargain on their own for better pay and working conditions. That’s one reason why Mexican wages remained so low — and attractive to U.S. manufacturers that wanted to cut costs.
WHAT CHANGES DID DEMOCRATS GET?
Democrats complained that the deal that Trump’s team originally negotiated with Canada and Mexico shared a defect with the treaty it was supposed to improve upon: It would be hard to enforce. In talks with Trump’s top trade official, Robert Lighthizer, the Democrats managed to strike language that would have allowed countries or companies to avoid sanctions simply by refusing to take part in dispute-settlement panels.
They also insisted on closing loopholes that would have made it hard to enforce provisions that protect workers from intimidation and violence. They also managed to establish a committee that will monitor Mexico’s labor reforms.
The Democrats also won a significant concession from the administration on drug prices. Gone is what Democrats considered a giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry: A provision that offered expensive biologic drugs — which are made from living cells — 10 years of protection from cheaper knockoff competition.
WHAT COULD USMCA MEAN FOR THE U.S. ECONOMY?
Probably not much. Trade is a relatively small part of the U.S. economy. And trade with Mexico and Canada is smaller still. In an analysis done last year, the independent International Trade Commission calculated that USMCA would add 0.35% or $68 billion, to economic growth and generate 176,000 jobs over six years — mere blips in a $22 trillion economy with 152 million nonfarm jobs. https://apnews.com/article/222da26d3fe441dc0afca4194addfc6f
· In February, the Trump administration filled the role of Special Adviser to the President on International Religious Freedom within the National Security Council. This role was authorized by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, but has remained unfilled for over 20 years since that law's enactment. President Trump is the first president to dedicate a full-time staffer to this role and fill it on a permanent basis.
· On February 4, during his State of the Union address, President Trump called on Congress to pass legislation that would ban late-term abortions. To highlight the need for this legislation, he invited special guest Ellie Schneider, who was born at just 21 weeks gestation.
· On February 5, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance. The Alliance will unite government leaders from like-minded nations to strategize ways to promote religious freedom and protect religious minorities around the world.
· On February 25, OMB issued a Statement of Administrative Policy strongly supporting two pro-life bills being voted on in the U.S. Senate: the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Had Congress passed these bills, the president's advisors would have recommended that he sign both into law.
· On March 24, DOJ filed a statement of interest in a case protecting women against men intruding on their sporting competitions. The statement made clear that athletic qualifications on the basis of "gender identity" were harmful to women's sports.
· On March 28, amid the coronavirus pandemic, HHS OCR issued a strong statement reminding health care entities of their obligation to treat persons with disabilities with the same dignity and worth as everyone else. OCR reiterated its duty to enforce current civil rights laws and has already worked with states to remove discriminatory practices from their pandemic health plans.
· On April 2, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback held a special briefing. He called upon China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia to release their prisoners of conscience in light of the contagious coronavirus. Many of these prisoners were imprisoned for their religious faith.
· On April 3, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a FAQ document confirming that churches and religious nonprofits are eligible for assistance like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in the coronavirus relief legislation known as the CARES Act. These clarifying protections ensure organizations would not be discriminated against based on their religious affiliation and would not have to give up their religious freedom in order to participate in these programs. In addition, the administration used an affiliation rule to ensure that large abortion providers like Planned Parenthood would not be eligible for coronavirus relief in the CARES Act.
· On April 14, DOJ filed a statement of interest protecting the religious liberty of church-goers in Greenville, Mississippi. During the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Greenville banned all religious services, even those that were able to abide by social distancing standards with drive-in church services.
· On April 17, the Department of Homeland Security included "clergy for essential support" in its list of personnel and entities deemed "essential" for purposes of responding to the coronavirus. This designation allows clergy and pastors more freedom to continue to operate and serve those around them in need at this time.
· On April 27, Attorney General William Barr directed federal prosecutors to monitor and, if necessary, take action to correct state and local policies that discriminate against religious institutionsand believers while battling the coronavirus pandemic.
· On May 3, DOJ filed a statement of interest supporting the religious freedom of Lighthouse Fellowship Church in Chincoteague Island, Virginia. After the church held a 16-person worship service on Palm Sunday (following strict social distancing protocols), a criminal citation and summons were issued against the pastor pursuant to Governor Ralph Northam's executive order which banned in-person religious services but allowed large gatherings for businesses like liquor stores and dry cleaners.
· As of May 12, the Trump administration has overseen the confirmation of 193 federal judges, including two Supreme Court justices and 51 federal appeals court judges. Counting seven other judicial confirmations for roles outside the federal court system, President Trump has confirmed 200 judges so far during his time in office. An overwhelming number of President Trump's judicial nominees have been constitutional originalists, who will interpret the law as written, rather than interpret it according to their personal policy preferences. As judges, these nominees will rule correctly on religious liberty and pro-life issues.
· On May 15, the DOL issued guidance implementing the administration's Religious Liberty Executive Order and the DOJ religious liberty guidance. The DOL guidance also cited to the OMB memo from earlier this year which directed all grant-administering agencies to detail how they will protect religious liberty in the context of such grants, and included specific action steps to ensure that religious liberty is protected.
· On May 18, USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa sent a letter to the UN Secretary General advocating that the UN not push abortion during the coronavirus crisis. Barsa noted that abortion is not an "essential service," and there are many actual health needs at this time. Therefore, the United States, which stands with the international pro-life community under the Trump administration, does not look kindly on these efforts to promote abortion.
· On June 2, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom, which recognized the promotion of international religious freedom as a moral and national security imperative for the United States.
· On June 12, facing strong opposition from LGBT rights organizations, HHS finalized its regulation that clarifies that discrimination on the basis of sex in section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act is to be interpreted under the plain meaning of the word. Therefore, it does not include "gender identity" or "termination of pregnancy" as set forth by a 2016 Obama administration regulation. The HHS rule will continue to enforce existing civil rights protections; however, it makes clear that the federal government will not force physicians to participate in gender reassignment surgeries or abortions.
· On June 19, the DOJ filed a statement of interest defending the constitutionality of Idaho's Fairness in Women's Sports Act. The Fairness in Women's Sports Act ensures that only biologically female athletes are permitted to compete in female sports. By restricting male athletes from participating, female athletes have a fair shot when competing.
· On June 24, President Trump issued an executive order to strengthen America's foster care and adoption system. Among other things, this action seeks to increase partnerships with faith-based organizations to care for children and preserve families.
· On June 29, the White House released a statement condemning the Supreme Court ruling on June Medical Services v. Russo. This ruling concluded that requiring individuals who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals is unconstitutional.
· On June 30, the White House released a statement praising the Supreme Court ruling on Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. This ruling is a victory for religious freedom, ensuring that religious schools are not discriminated against in state voucher programs.
· On July 8, HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued a statement celebrating the Supreme Court ruling in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania. The ruling upheld the Trump administration's expansion of religious freedom protections under the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.
· On July 9, the Treasury Department sanctioned four current or former Chinese government officials and one Chinese g overnment entity for their abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority in China.
· On July 21, OCR resolved a religious discrimination complaint against the Prince George's Hospital Center of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS). Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the hospital denied a patient's request to have a Catholic priest visit the hospital to provide spiritual care. OCR worked with the hospital system to revise their visitor's policy to allow religious visitations during the pandemic.
· On July 31, the Treasury Department sanctioned a Chinese paramilitary organization in connection to their human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in China.
· On August 5, Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech on the importance of protecting life and reaffirmed the administration's pro-life positions. He also became the first vice president to visit a pregnancy resource center – these centers are valuable lifelines that offer abortion-free services for women facing crisis pregnancies.
· On August 17, the State Department, in coordination with other federal agencies, released a second review of President Trump's PLGHA Policy, which requires U.S. global health funds recipients to certify that they will not promote or perform abortions. This report reaffirmed the policy's effectiveness and the U.S. government's ability to simultaneously protect unborn life and promote better health outcomes for women globally.
· On August 18, the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board—which was convened as a part of President Trump's June 5, 2019 fetal tissue research policy—issued recommendations on the ethics of fetal tissue research proposals. The board recommended against funding 13 of the 14 proposals because of ethical concerns with how fetal tissue from aborted babies would be used. This board will continue to review any new fetal tissue research proposals applying for federal funds.
· On August 20, OCR resolved a civil rights complaint against the state of Utah, helping the state amend their crisis standards of care (CSC) guidelines to ensure the elderly and disabled are not discriminated against when medical resources are scarce. This is now OCR's seventh resolution helping states create CSC plans that value the dignity of all human life.
On August 25, USAID released its updated Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment Policy with the purpose of "empowering women and girls to participate fully in and equally benefit from the development of their societies." The updated policy takes into account the biological differences between males and females and recognizes the importance of strengthening "families and communities" to achieving its goal.
Trump Administration Accomplishments
· Almost 4 million jobs created since election.
· More Americans are now employed than ever recorded before in our history.
· We have created more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs since my election.
· Manufacturing jobs growing at the fastest rate in more than THREE DECADES.
· Economic growth last quarter hit 4.2 percent.
· New unemployment claims recently hit a 49-year low.
· Median household income has hit highest level ever recorded.
· African-American unemployment has recently achieved the lowest rate ever recorded.
· Hispanic-American unemployment is at the lowest rate ever recorded.
· Asian-American unemployment recently achieved the lowest rate ever recorded.
· Women’s unemployment recently reached the lowest rate in 65 years.
· Youth unemployment has recently hit the lowest rate in nearly half a century.
· Lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for Americans without a high school diploma.
· Under my Administration, veterans’ unemployment recently reached its lowest rate in nearly 20 years.
· Almost 3.9 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps since the election.
· The Pledge to America’s Workers has resulted in employers committing to train more than 4 million Americans. We are committed to VOCATIONAL education.
· 95 percent of U.S. manufacturers are optimistic about the future—the highest ever.
· Retail sales surged last month, up another 6 percent over last year.
· Signed the biggest package of tax cuts and reforms in history. After tax cuts, over $300 billion poured back in to the U.S. in the first quarter alone.
· As a result of our tax bill, small businesses will have the lowest top marginal tax rate in more than 80 years.
· Helped win U.S. bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
· Helped win U.S.-Mexico-Canada’s united bid for 2026 World Cup.
· Opened ANWR and approved Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.
· Record number of regulations eliminated.
· Enacted regulatory relief for community banks and credit unions.
· Obamacare individual mandate penalty GONE.
· My Administration is providing more affordable healthcare options for Americans through association health plans and short-term duration plans.
· Last month, the FDA approved more affordable generic drugs than ever before in history. And thanks to our efforts, many drug companies are freezing or reversing planned price increases.
· We reformed the Medicare program to stop hospitals from overcharging low-income seniors on their drugs—saving seniors hundreds of millions of dollars this year alone.
· Signed Right-To-Try legislation.
· Secured $6 billion in NEW funding to fight the opioid epidemic.
· We have reduced high-dose opioid prescriptions by 16 percent during my first year in office.
· Signed VA Choice Act and VA Accountability Act, expanded VA telehealth services, walk-in-clinics, and same-day urgent primary and mental health care.
· Increased our coal exports by 60 percent; U.S. oil production recently reached all-time high.
· United States is a net natural gas exporter for the first time since 1957.
· Withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord.
· Cancelled the illegal, anti-coal, so-called Clean Power Plan.
· Secured record $700 billion in military funding; $716 billion next year.
· NATO allies are spending $69 billion more on defense since 2016.
· Process has begun to make the Space Force the 6th branch of the Armed Forces.
· Confirmed more circuit court judges than any other new administration.
· Confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
· Withdrew from the horrible, one-sided Iran Deal.
· Moved U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
· Protecting Americans from terrorists with the Travel Ban, upheld by Supreme Court.
· Issued Executive Order to keep open Guantanamo Bay.
· Concluded a historic U.S.-Mexico Trade Deal to replace NAFTA. And negotiations with Canada are underway as we speak.
· Reached a breakthrough agreement with the E.U. to increase U.S. exports.
· Imposed tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum to protect our national security.
· Imposed tariffs on China in response to China’s forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and their chronically abusive trade practices.
· Net exports are on track to increase by $59 billion this year.
· Improved vetting and screening for refugees, and switched focus to overseas resettlement.
The stock market reached a record high. 2) He raised tariffs on products from China to bring back manufacturing jobs. 3) Early on, he banned travel from China. 4) He insisted NATO allies pay their fair share. 5) He removed restrictive regulations on businesses, allowing more, better paying jobs. 6) Before the pandemic, the economy had low unemployment, even for minorities. 7) He instigated new agreements between Middle East countries. 8) He approved the killing of top terrorists and brought soldiers home. 9) He asked manufacturing companies to retool and manufacture ventilators, providing thousands for us and others and partnered with the private sector to provide testing and protective equipment. 10) He encouraged drug companies to work fast to provide new vaccines and medications that might soon be available.
Candidate Joe Biden said he’d raise taxes on the wealthy, meaning that things will simply cost the rest of us more. His vice presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris, embraced more left-leaning policies. Plus, Biden won’t tell us if he would pack the Supreme Court if he wins.
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