Today, the Trump Administration made two sweeping and destructive moves in their continued attack against women and the LGBTQ community. Still reeling from their 7-year loss to kill the Affordable Care Act (ACA) outright, the Administration announced it is changing the rules to severely undermine the contraceptive coverage mandate under ACA regulations. The ACA regulation has provided access to birth control to over 62 million women and saved women $1.4 billion in 2013 alone. But these new rules could cause “hundreds of thousands of women [to] lose birth control benefits they now receive at no cost.”
Once again, this attack is being promoted as a protection of religious liberty. Research shows that nine out of ten women will use contraceptives at some point in their lives. 98 percent of Catholic women who have had sex and have “used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning,” which is nearly identical to the rate among all women who have had sex (at 99 percent). And let’s remember that birth control is not only used to prevent pregnancies—it helps with painful cramps, migraines, and period regulation, to name a few. To fight back, share how access to affordable contraception has impacted your life using Generation Progress’s new tool.
In the same swipe, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued guidance giving significant leeway to staff, recipients of federal grants, and government contractors seeking religious exemptions from federal laws, rules, and regulations. They claim that this allowance for discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community is to protect religious freedom. But that’s simply a way to cover their true ideology—one of misogyny, sexism, and homophobia. To be clear, religious freedom does not give people the right to impose their beliefs on others or to discriminate.
Both of these broad attacks come only days after the House passed a 20-week abortion ban, Jeff Sessions declared the Department of Justice will not protect transgender people from workplace discrimination, and Trump nominated violently anti-LGBTQ Jeff Mateer for a position on a Texas court. These new actions represent a concerted, widespread effort by this administration to roll back key policies that increase access to vital health care for women and encourage discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. These actions are by anti-choice, anti-women, anti-LGBTQ individuals within the administration, such as VP Mike Pence and appointees, like Matthew Bowman, that consistently fight against reproductive justice and women’s rights—or push fake science, like the blatantly untrue idea that contraception doesn’t work.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Trump’s Tax Scam. Yesterday, the House passed a budget that will cut programs for working families to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and big businesses. Go to HandsOff.org to find out how your state would be affected by the budget cuts and share your story. Now, it’s the Senate’s turn to vote on a budget—and theirs is equally horrible. Visit TrumpTaxToolkit.org to tell your senators to vote no! And then share the graphic below.
Different Officials, Same Story. Energy Secretary Rick Perry reportedly took a private flight to Ohio last week, just one day before Tom Price resigned over controversy for the same thing. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has also used taxpayer money to charter domestic flights, adding to the long list of Cabinet members who are misusing tax dollars. Yesterday, House Democrats unveiled the Swamp Flyers Act, which seeks to curb the use of private flights by executive branch officials, unless commercial flights are unavailable. It seems as though the facade of “fiscal responsibility” touted by those who control the government has been hypocritical at best.
Drain the Swamp? Speaking of hypocritical…A new report reveals that over 40 people “with ties to Trump or Pence has acted as registered lobbyists in 2017,” raking in nearly $42 million. These findings directly contradict Trump’s repeated promises to “drain the swamp.” And those registered lobbyists are just the tip of the iceberg. An article by The Atlantic explores the deep corruption in Trump’s administration, including all of his family members that are now Trump advisers while still getting revenue from the Trump organization.
Tropical Storm Nate. Hurricane season isn’t over yet. A new storm, currently called Tropical Storm Nate, is wreaking havoc in Central America, with at least 21 people dead. It’s now headed to the Gulf Coast, where it is expected to make landfall in New Orleans and surrounding areas. Latest reports fear that Nate could strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane by the time it hits the U.S. Another large concern is that the Gulf houses one-fifth of all oil produced in the U.S, and the energy industry is already shutting down offshore oil and gas platforms.
UNDER THE RADAR
#StopTheDebtTrap. Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—the consumer watchdog proposed by then-Professor Elizabeth Warren and enacted as part of Dodd-Frank—released its final rule on payday and auto title lending. The rule would finally begin to rein in predatory lenders that take $8 billion from vulnerable families and communities each year. But the rule, and the CFPB itself, continues to face threats from Congress and the Trump administration even as the vast majority of Americans want tougher financial regulations. Just as Congress debates whether it is on the side of Equifax or consumers, members must decide whether they want to be on the side of predatory lenders or struggling families.