ACLU Joins Forum Today On Troubling Continuing Resolution

February 24, 2011 11:24 am

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House Bill Contains Several Anti-Civil Liberties Provisions And Endangers Americans’ Rights

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union joined major civil rights, public safety and consumer groups today in a panel discussion on H.R. 1, the continuing resolution passed last week in the House of Representatives to fund the government through the fiscal year. During floor debate in the House, the continuing resolution became a vehicle for many problematic amendments that have serious civil liberties consequences. Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, participated in the forum, which was hosted by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).

Troubling amendments include a provision to eliminate all federal funding to Planned Parenthood, penalizing the organization because its clinics perform abortions even though they do so without federal dollars, as well as an amendment barring funding for the Federal Communications Commission’s implementation of recently adopted “net neutrality” rules. The Senate has not yet determined whether it will vote on the House’s bill.

“The House’s continuing resolution is an across the board attack on Americans’ rights,” said Murphy. “This bill should not be used as a way to slide discriminatory and constitutionally flawed provisions through Congress, especially those that have not gone through the normal congressional hearing and mark-up process.”

Even before these amendments were added, the bill’s base language eliminated funds to the critical Title X National Family Planning Program, which provides much needed services nationwide and is the only way for many low-income families to access essential reproductive health care, and banned Guantánamo detainee transfers to the United States for any reason, including prosecution in federal courts. The transfer ban would expand a current provision that applies solely to Defense Department funds to apply government-wide.

“With one bill, the House managed to endanger women’s health, threaten our unfettered access to the Internet and further tie the president’s hands in trying to close Guantánamo in a way that restores the rule of law,” said Murphy. “Under the guise of reducing the deficit, the House engaged in an assault on civil liberties based on an extreme ideological agenda. Rather than pass the House’s bill, we urge the Senate to reject it and its deplorable amendments.”

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