House Leaders Coordinate With Radical Right for Last-Minute "Values Agenda" Push

Looking to maintain their majority, Republicans in the House of Representatives are pushing what they call the “American Values Agenda” – a series of bills, most of which will fail, aimed at energizing the right-wing base for the mid-term elections in November. The package consists of:

  • A bill to strip the courts of jurisdiction over hearing challenges to “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance;
  • A bill to deny court costs to successful litigants of church-state claims;
  • A constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage;
  • A bill requiring doctors performing an abortion to tell the woman that “she has the option of choosing anesthesia for the child, so that the unborn child's pain is less severe”;
  • A bill to ban human cloning and restrict stem-cell research;
  • One bill to weaken the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and a second bill to prevent confiscation of guns during national emergencies;
  • A prohibition on Internet gambling;
  • Something called the “Freedom to Display the American Flag Act”;
  • And tax cuts.

According to CNN, “House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) told CNN's Deirdre Walsh that Republican leaders decided on the 10 legislative items after meeting with about two dozen outside groups in February as well as receiving input from the House GOP's ‘Values Action Team’ headed by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pennsylvania).” Right-wing stalwart Paul Weyrich – co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and founder of the Free Congress Foundation – described this “Values Summit” as effective coordination between the Right and Congress:

Earlier this year the GOP leadership began what it terms a “Values Summit.” I have been privileged to attend every one thus far. At a values summit each of us is given a few minutes to tell the leadership what we think is important. The leadership, tilted more toward the House of Representatives than the Senate, primarily listens. Questions are asked about timing. If, for example, an organization wants to do a huge grassroots mailing then it is very helpful for that group to know how much time it has to get the mail out the door.

The net result of our summit was announced by the House Leadership last week. Even House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-OH), never thought to be sympathetic to the religious right, pronounced himself absolutely in favor of what the leadership is calling “the American Values agenda”.

Already, the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage failed by a large margin in the Senate, and the court-stripping bill on the Pledge did not make it out of a House committee with six more Republicans than Democrats. (Rep. Todd Akin (R-Kansas) told the audience at a “War on Christians and Values Voters” conference earlier this year that the Pledge bill is part of an effort to incrementally disable the ability of Americans to file suit in federal courts on a number of issues, culminating in a future bill to impeach judges for “making decisions not based on the U.S. Constitution.”)

But, as Weyrich acknowledges, many of these bills are bound to fail, but the idea is to make political ammunition. “Let’s get these Members on record. Let us see who supports a pro-family agenda and who does not.”