Momentum on Capitol Hill

Holding back the tide of attacks on human rights

The past two years have brought a litany of assaults on global human rights—many from within our own government. Among the most egregious: The Trump administration tried to slash funding for international aid and has cut off all funding to international organizations that support reproductive choice.

To mitigate the administration’s threats, AJWS has participated in strong D.C. coalitions, engaged the media, and deployed rabbis and supporters on Capitol Hill. Together with many others, we blocked some of the most malicious threats to human rights abroad.

Defending Abortion Rights Worldwide

On his third day in office, just days after the historic Women’s March, President Trump put millions of women, girls and LGBTI people around the world at risk with a stroke of his pen. Through a presidential memorandum, he reinstated and dramatically expanded the “Global Gag Rule,” which forbids the U.S. from giving global health assistance to any overseas organization that provides abortions, refers women to abortion services, or advocates for more liberal abortion laws.

"We need AJWS now more than ever before. We need you. The power is not with elected officials, it’s with you, the people.” —Senator Ben Cardin, October 2017

In 2018, Republicans in Congress tried to enshrine this temporary executive order into law through the federal budget—but AJWS and our allies didn’t let it happen. After months of advocacy, we and our allies had the gag rule removed from the bill, ensuring that future administrations can still reverse the damage Trump has inflicted on global sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Blocking Budget Cuts to Foreign Aid

When President Trump released his proposed federal budget in 2017, he demanded that the U.S. cut 32% from the State Department and $1 billion from HIV/AIDS funding—and eliminate family planning. AJWS knew that Trump’s proposed radical cuts in foreign aid and diplomacy would throw more people into poverty, undermine efforts to halt epidemic disease and strengthen the conditions under which authoritarian regimes disregard the rights of their citizens—and so we fought back.

In March 2018, AJWS and our coalition partners succeeded in ensuring that Congress preserved full funding for now for the State Department and USAID, in defiance of the President’s proposed budget.

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Feature photo by Richard Greenhouse