Eyes on Congress this week for the week-in-review feature I call "The 3", with 3 stories of relevance to the Christian community. The U.S. House took a high-profile vote on health care reform, the Chinese president visited his American counterpart, raising the eyes of some in Congress, and 2 pro-life bills were introduced into the House. While the new tea party-oriented lawmakers may have been characterized in the media by their stands on economic issues, the so-called social issues, such as abortion are important to many of these freshmen, too.
3 - U.S. House votes to repeal health care law
As expected, the U.S. House of Representatives, by a substantial margin, voted to repeal the health care law that was approved by Congress last year. While many rate this as a symbolic vote, nevertheless it was an opportunity for lawmakers to weigh in on legislation that has been opposed by Christian groups for a number of reasons, such as: its provision to fund abortion using tax dollars, its increase in the size and scope of government, and its structure, that could lead to rationing, potentially penalizing senior citizens and the disabled.
While the conventional wisdom is that the bill will die in the Senate or perhaps not even be brought up, there are procedures that could be utilized that could result in the bill coming up, forcing lawmakers to state their position on the legislation...again. 1/3 of the Senate will be up for re-election in 2012, so it could be a bit uncomfortable for those Senators in favor of the health care law to be made to show how they stand, realizing the widespread unpopularity of the bill. The repeal keeps the bill in the national discussion, and will continue to keep forcing lawmakers who supported it to defend their position.
In another development this week, over half of the 50 states have filed suit against the health care bill, as 6 states just this week joined the Federal lawsuit filed in Pensacola, Florida, claiming the mandatory health insurance is unconstitutional.
With a summary of these recent developments, here is a piece from CitizenLink.
2 - Chinese leader's visit leads to discussion of China's human rights record
President Obama hosted Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House this week. While there was a strong emphasis on economic issues during the series of meetings, there were many advocates who hoped that Mr. Obama would address human rights concerns, including the religious persecution that is taking place there, and indeed, Mr. Obama did make a brief mention of the topic in his press conference remarks.
A few weeks ago, the organization ChinaAid had called attention to a new policy that seems to be placing a heightened level of pressure on house churches and their leaders. In press conferences surrounding President Hu's visit, the wife of Chinese dissident and human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng spoke out about the imprisonment and alleged torture of her husband, ChinaAid President Bob Fu called for a change of course in U.S.-China relations, incorporating a human rights component, and an organization called All Girls Allowed protested China's one-child policy, which has resulted in widespread abortions throughout the country.
Meanwhile, some members of Congress decried the fact that the Chinese President was treated to a state dinner in light of the human rights record of China.
1 - 2 new pro-life bills introduced into Congress in advance of March for Life activities
This week, two bills were introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives that are intended to prevent taxpayer funding of abortion. One of the bills, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, is designed to permanently prohibit taxpayer funds from being used for abortion. The Protect Life Act would certify that the health care reform law itself does not include taxpayer funding of abortion - this is basically a re-introduction of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment that was added to the House version of the health care reform bill, but was not included in the Senate version and not part of the final version that was passed.
The Susan B. Anthony list, which was deeply involved in trying to elect more pro-life individuals to Congress and in defeating so-called "pro-life" lawmakers who supported the health care reform bill, posted this piece on its website.
This pro-life legislation was introduced just days before the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that essentially made abortion legal in America and before the annual March for Life, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of pro-life attendees to the nation's capital on Monday, January 24th. Last year, the crowd was estimated at 300,000 people and more are expected this year.
Meanwhile, numerous events related to the sanctity of life are being held across the nation. The Walk for Life West Coast event, on Saturday, the 22nd, drew some 40,000 people in San Francisco.
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