Week Ending January 10, 2003
Religious Freedom Coalition
January 10, 2003 2:45PM EST
CONGRESS IN SESSION CONGRESS BEGINS ITS "WORK" THE SENATE The 108th Congress began with swearing-in ceremonies on Tuesday, January 7th. Despite all the news of a Republican "sweep" in the midterm election, the party holds power in the House and Senate by small margins. The Senate remains a problem for President George Bush. Republicans have 51 of the 100 seats in the Senate and this allows them to control all committee chairmanships. However, it only takes one Senator to block the progress of legislation onto the floor for a vote. It takes 60 votes to cut off a senator who has stopped legislation by "filibustering." The new Majority Leader,
CONGRESS IN SESSION
CONGRESS BEGINS ITS "WORK"
The 108th Congress began with swearing-in ceremonies on Tuesday, January 7th. Despite all the news of a Republican "sweep" in the midterm election, the party holds power in the House and Senate by small margins. The Senate remains a problem for President George Bush. Republicans have 51 of the 100 seats in the Senate and this allows them to control all committee chairmanships. However, it only takes one Senator to block the progress of legislation onto the floor for a vote. It takes 60 votes to cut off a senator who has stopped legislation by "filibustering."
The new Majority Leader,Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) can expect the liberal icons of the Senate such as Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and Clinton (D-NY) to attempt to block any legislation the President favors. And, there is much to do. Unfortunately, not much was done in the Senate under Senator Tom Daschle’s leadership the past two years. Of the thirteen appropriations bills that must be passed each year, only two were completed. The first order of business for Senator Frist is to pass those other eleven appropriations bills so the government can function normally. As of now most of the government is working through "continuing resolutions" which allow departments to operate at the previous year’s funding. Continuing resolutions were passed by the House on Wednesday the 8th. The House and Senate also approved a thirteen week extension of unemployment insurance benefits and it was immediately signed by the President.
As a result of the backlog of legislation in the Senate that is required for the government to do business, social conservatives should not expect immediate work on legislation such as the partial-birth abortion bill. I actually expect Senator Frist to first work on a prescription drug bill and some expansion of Medicare with prescription coverage before addressing many of the issues supported by social conservatives.
There is also the terrible backlog of confirmation hearings for federal judges. Senator Daschle had made it a central part of his leadership to block the Bush appointees. Just before the Democrat controlled Senate adjourned in 2002 it did confirm 100 judges in an attempt to cover-up its bizarre behavior before Republicans took control. Daschle did not want a Republican show in January of hundreds of judges being sworn in.
On the House side Republicans picked up a few seats and now have a 229 to 205 edge. (There is one more Democrat coming ... the brother of AOL chairman Steve Case bought a seat for himself from his vacation paradise home in Hawaii.) This is the highest total of Republican House members since 1996. Not all of these Republicans are social conservatives. At least 60 are liberal Republicans who vote with the Democrats at least some of the time on social issues such as abortion. Again, don’t expect the social conservative agenda to move that fast. We cannot get discouraged.The Religious Freedom Coalition participates with other conservative organizations in Washington, DC to move legislation important to the pro-family movement forward such as the preservation of "under God" in the Pledge bill that was passed last year. It takes time, but we are getting the job done. We just shouldn’t assume that a Republican majority in both Houses and White House control means immediate victory on all fronts because it does not.
I believe President Bush will continue to work with the House first on any important legislation because overall the House is more conservative -- and most important -- more socially conservative than the Senate. The new House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, is a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. DeLay leads a Bible study in the House. His second in command, the new Majority Whip, isRoy Blunt (R-MO). I have worked with Congressman Blunt on numerous issues and he is with us. Blunt, like DeLay, is a Baptist.
Social conservatives did see some action the first week of the 108th Congress.Congressman Dave Weldon (R-FL), a medical doctor, reintroduced a bill banning the cloning of human beings. This bill passed the House last year but was blocked by Senate Democrats Tom Daschle, Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton among others. Weldon’s bill is a complete ban. The liberals want a "clone and kill" bill which allows clones to be made to harvest human parts such as kidneys and then be destroyed. The RFC supported the absolute ban last year during the 107th Congress and will work with Congressman Weldon during the 108th as well. HR-234 is officially titled The Human Cloning Prohibtion Act of 2003.
OUR MIDDLE EAST MISSION
While the primary work of the Religious Freedom Coalition is in Washington, DC, we do maintain a presence in other nations to assist persecuted Christians there as well. In what is known as the West Bank, the RFC supports Christian schools. One of those schools was burglarized during Christmas time. We have since sent the funds to place bars on the windows and that is now being done. The rate of crime in the areas controlled by Yassar Arafat and his gang of thugs is staggering. Crime against Christians is ignored by his "police."
In March I will be returning to the Holy Land to inspect funding projects. We have numerous applications from students who require financial aid to attend Christian schools. If a Christian student cannot afford to attend a private Christian school, he must be subjected to the culture of death in the Islamic schools run by Yassar Arafat.
Two adult brothers who converted from Islam to Christianity have been condemned to death by Yassar Arafat’s gang of thugs. They have escaped to Israel where they now have a thirty day permit. When that permit expires they and their families will be extradited back to the West Bank area controlled by Arafat and they will be murdered. The RFC is currently working with a congressman to intervene with Israel. We are hoping and praying that we will be able to find a third nation for these families to move to and the two brothers will not face the death penalty because of their conversions to Christ. At some point I may ask your help in contacting authorities in Israel and the United States to help these two men and their families.Holy Land Terror: Islamic Persecution of Christians is now in stock. This documentary in VHS format was filmed on location in the Holy Land during my trips there in 2002. This is current material which actually shows Palestinian TV footage promoting death to Jews, Christians and all Americans. I urge you to purchase a copy and place it in your local public library. The Saudi government is spending millions of dollars to place propaganda in our public libraries claiming that their vile and violent form of Islam, called Wahhibism, is peaceful. It is important that their lies be challenged with the truth. Please purchase and place this video documentary in your local library. If possible show it to your Sunday School class. Click here to buy Holy Land Terror: Islamic Persecution of Christians
The current issue of theWilliam J. Murray Report is available online at www.rfcnet.org.
William J. Murray, Chairman
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