The conservative Family Research Council is out with its latest congressional scorecard. Shocking no one, it’s yet another reminder that the conservative organization’s overwhelming interest in promoting families extends little further than a woman’s womb.
Four out of the five grades awarded by the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group on its House scorecard for the last session of Congress deal either with attempts to restrict abortion rights or efforts to promote the interests of “unborn children.”
The other deals with a push to strip Washington D.C. residents of their healthcare, leaving the “family” in “Family Research Council” ringing more than a little hollow.
The Senate scorecard deals with the same issues, and ladles on grades for lawmakers’ support for Trump White House cabinet and judicial nominees.
Wielding an outsized influence compared to its spending, the council recently asked its members to pray against any effort to impeach President Donald Trump. It’s been tagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its efforts to “[defame] gays and lesbians. It has forcefully pushed back against that label. Despite that, a good grade from the Christian and evangelical council is a badge of honor for conservatives.
Among other things, lawmakers were graded on their support for the controversial “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which penalizes health care providers who don’t provide medical care to babies who are born alive after an attempted abortion.
By the way, it’s already illegal to kill an infant.
The bill’s supporters have incorrectly - and horrifyingly - cast opponents as supporting infanticide, committing an extreme injustice against (and ridiculously oversimplifying) a hugely complicated, sensitive, and deeply personal issue.
The council also rewarded House and Senate lawmakers who courageously supported an attempt kill Washington, D.C.’s version of the Affordable Care Act. Because what could be more pro-family than denying people healthcare, right? Fortunately, the preposterous action committed by the Republican-controlled House was blocked by the Senate last year.
In the Senate, lawmakers won laurels for voting to confirm conservative federal judges, Trump cabinet appointees, and, of course, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. They were also rewarded for voting in favor, naturally, of measures to restrict abortion rights.
The Family Research Council also graded senators on their support for defunding Planned Parenthood, which provides critical reproductive and women’s health services to mostly low-income and minority women who would not be able to afford them otherwise. That has less to do with promoting families and more with trying to drive a stake through a group that’s the bete noire of the right.
And that’s what so markedly absent from the Family Research Council’s report card - any interest at all in helping women, children, and families after a child is born.
Efforts to increase the federal minimum wage to as much as $15 an hour? You won’t find that on the report card. Medicare for all? Or even efforts to rein in healthcare costs and expand coverage? That’s nowhere to be found on the report card either.
How about college affordability? Nary a word. School safety? Universal background checks? How about bans on assault weapons, expanded magazines, bump stocks, or any of the other machinery of mass murder that are regularly employed to mow down children and adults?
You won’t find that on the scorecard either.
Of course, the group can only grade the Republican-controlled Congress of 2018 on the bills it brought to a vote. And the Congressional GOP’s abject failure to address any of those issues while it had a lock on the White House and both chambers of the U.S. Capitol is an inexcusable mark of shame.
Yes, it’s true that conservatives support less expensive healthcare, safer schools, and affordable higher education with as much ardor as those on the left - they just disagree on the best way to go about that.
But the Family Research Council’s report card is much more than a grading document. It’s also a statement of principles that shouts: “These are the issues that we consider important. ”
And most of them begin and end at efforts to control a woman’s womb. After that, they’re apparently on their own.
There’s nothing pro-family about that at all.
An award-winning political journalist, John L. Micek is Editor-in-Chief of The Pennsylvania Capital-Star in Harrisburg, Pa. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.