In his first full week in office, President Donald J. Trump wasted no time in advancing a dangerous agenda that targets the most vulnerable among us, undermines our values, stifles free speech, encourages denial of scientific facts and strips away years of social progress. And sadly, many of the Republican members of Congress seem to be in lockstep with him or are remaining silent.
The break-neck pace of executive orders, directives and, in the House, harmful legislation is startling and shocking.
Reproductive health emerged as the first target last Monday when the new President reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, a policy that prohibits federal funding to international development organizations that offer abortion services or even counsel women on this option. Well-women checkups, HIV/AIDS prevention and other vital services around the globe will now have to be weighed against denying women basic information about their choices — an unacceptable predicament.
[pullquote]It may feel as if we have little power to stop the onslaught against our nation’s core values and principles, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.[/pullquote]
Last Tuesday, House Republicans passed H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017,” by a vote of 238-183, with only three Democrats supporting it. I led the debate on the House floor against this extreme bill, which will further limit access to abortion for millions of women. These restrictions on federal funding, imposed year after year through the Hyde Amendment, already deny reproductive services to low-income women, but this bill goes even further by restricting abortion coverage for many private insurance plans and prohibiting the District of Columbia from using its own funds to cover such services. I have long opposed Hyde, co-sponsoring the EACH Woman Act, which would end this unfair policy once and for all, and I am proud to lead the charge against its attempted codification through H.R. 7. While this bill’s passage in the House is dismaying, it’s likely that the Senate will again stop it. And I will continue fighting against the GOP’s anti-choice agenda because women are worth it.
Last Wednesday, the President issued two executive orders related to immigration. They direct the Department of Homeland Security not only to build a wall we don’t need, but also to build more detention centers and hold individuals there in violation of their due process rights. They would reinstate the Secure Communities program that Colorado has already tried and soundly rejected. And they threaten to withhold federal funds from any jurisdiction that doesn’t agree with the new draconian policies, putting millions of dollars for Colorado in question.
Last Friday, the President did the unthinkable and issued an executive order suspending entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, blocking entry for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and barring Syrian refugees indefinitely. With the stroke of a pen, the President slammed the door to safety, security and hope for millions. Reverberations are already being felt by travelers and migrants, including visa holders, around the world.
I condemn all these harmful executive orders in the strongest of terms. They do not reflect long-held American values. They do not reflect Colorado values. Over the last few years, as fear of immigrants and refugees has increased in some places, Coloradans have pulled together and made clear that we will not be divided. America has always been a beacon to oppressed people, and while this extreme policy is a major setback, it doesn’t change America’s inclusive spirit. I know we will come together again as a nation and do what is right.
Home in Colorado, I met with constituents who are as energized as I am about defeating this dangerous agenda. A special thank-you to the more than 200 people who attended our listening session on saving the Affordable Care Act last week: Your stories about what this coverage means for you and your families have further inspired our continued efforts to stop a reckless repeal by President Trump and the GOP. The ACA is more than a law: It’s a lifeline that has allowed millions to achieve health, quality of life and peace of mind. We won’t give it up without a fight. If you were unable to attend the event, you can share your stories on my Facebook page with the hashtag #ProtectOurCareCO. I’d love to hear from you.
Last Thursday, the Trump administration attempted to halt advertising and outreach for health plans on the ACA federal exchanges in the final days leading up to the crucial January 31st enrollment deadline. Thankfully, as a result of a strong push-back among supporters of the law, the administration reversed much of this directive on last Friday.
This time has been difficult. It may feel as if we have little power to stop the onslaught against our nation’s core values and principles, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The remarkable turnout at the Women’s Marches on January 21st, which brought together millions of people, proves that our movement is as motivated as ever. Adversity is often the strongest catalyst for progress, but in the meantime we must remain vocal, unified and vigilant.
As always, you can visit my website, where you can read my positions on issues and learn about the different ways my staff can assist you (https://degette.house.gov) or call (303) 844-4988. While you’re there, be sure to visit the “Contact” page and send me an email about what matters most to you and your family. Chief Deputy Whip Diana DeGette is serving her tenth term in Congress as Representative for the First District of Colorado.
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