Amendments to Senate CJS Appropriations Bill

Categories: Advocacy Letter

Recipient: U.S. Senate

View the PDF of this letter here.

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States, we write to express our strong opposition to ideological riders on the FY2017 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Act (S. 2837) bill and our support for amendments that support increases to offices that are critical to the civil and human rights community.

The Leadership Conference opposes the following ideological riders on the CJS bill:

  • The Vitter Amendment (Amendment #4687) would require the Census Bureau to include questions regarding U.S. Citizenship and immigration status in order to use funds for the 2020 Census. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that the apportionment of members of the House of Representatives is based on a full count of residents in each state. We oppose the Vitter Amendment because it is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to exclude noncitizens and/or undocumented residents from the census counts used for congressional apportionment, and it may deter many residents from responding and therefore result in an inaccurate Census count.  
  • The Lee Amendment (Amendment #4694) would block the Department of Justice (DOJ) from enforcing the Fair Housing Act from using the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) “Discriminatory Effects Rule” (24 CFR 100.500). Simply put, the Amendment would keep DOJ from protecting victims of housing discrimination.

We also oppose the following funding amendments:

  • The Alexander Amendment (Amendment #4690) would defund the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s implementation or revision of the Employer Information Report (EEO-1). The collection of this pay data is critically important in identifying pay discrimination, improving the enforcement of pay discrimination laws, and increasing voluntary employer compliance with those laws.
  • The McCain Amendment (Amendment #4703) would prohibit DOJ from using any funds to “participate in, or carry out actions arising from” the Department of Education’s Joint Task Force on the Oversight and Accountability of For-Profit Postsecondary Institutions, including the gainful employment rule. We believe the gainful employment rule is critical to ensuring that preda­tory colleges are held responsible for their fraudulent and abusive tactics toward students of color.

Finally, we support the following funding amendments:

  • The Murray Amendment (Amendment #4725/4726) provides an additional $1 million to the EEOC in order to implement the rule offset from the Secretary of Commerce’s departmental management funds. In addition, the amendment affirms the EEOC’s authority to finalize its new rule to address the gender wage gap by collecting pay data through the EEO-1 survey. This rule will give the EEOC as well as employers a better understanding of both employer pay practices and the wage gap across different industries and occupations.
  • The Baldwin, Mikulski, and Hirono Amendment (Amendment #4719) would add critical funds to offices within the DOJ that work to prevent, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes. The amendment would appropriate $30 million in additional funds to DOJ’s Civil Rights Division  as well as $11 million to the Community Relations Service, DOJ’s “peacemaker” for community conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and disability. In the wake of the terrible mass shooting in Orlando, we are reminded again of the critical need to provide adequate funding to address hate crimes in our nation.   

Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please contact either of us or Emily Chatterjee, Senior Counsel, at (202) 466-3648.

Sincerely,

Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President