February 20, 2015  

aroundtownJAC has been very busy in 2015
with events from Florida to California.
 Want to host an event in your area? Contact the JAC office! 

January 2015: Palm Beach Gardens Israel Briefing with
Gidi Grinstein and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) 

February 2015: Coffee and Conversation with
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in Philadelphia

February 2015: Coffee & Conversation with
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in Los Angeles

  February 2015: Talking Points Highland Park with
Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL)


Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2)

Tulsi is serving her second term in Congress. She is the first Hindu American to serve in Congress and one of two female combat veterans; the other being Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8).  In 2004, she voluntarily deployed to Iraq with her fellow soldiers of the 29th Brigade, eventually serving two tours of combat duty in the Middle East. Tulsi was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and she continues to serve as a Captain in the Hawai'i National Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team.  She sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on Armed Services. She received a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America for her support or reproductive rights. She has a strong record opposing the anti-Israel BDS movement; she co-authored a bi-partisan letter to the president of the American Studies Association condemning the ASA boycott, which "undermines academic freedom and exhibits flagrant prejudice against the Jewish State of Israel." Tulsi recently announced her engagement to Abraham Williams, who proposed to her while they were surfing.


Palm Beach, FL
Talking Points with Mona Reis
Founder & CEO of
Presidential Women's Center

in West Palm Beach
Wednesday, March 4
4 - 5:30 pm
Home of Merle and Jim Styer

Highland Park, IL
Talking Points with Rep. Mike Quigley
Monday, April 20
Details to come

Lincolnwood, IL
5th Annual Power of Women Luncheon
International Correspondent Amy Kellogg
Barbara Bluhm-Kaul
Leslie Bluhm & Meredith Bluhm-Wolf
Monday, June 1st


Want to host a JAC event in your area?
Contact the JAC office.
847.433.5999 or [email protected]


Breakfast with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Monday, March 2
8:30 - 9:30 am
Clayco in Chicago
Call the JAC office for more details or to RSVP

The Week in Legislation

H.R. * (S.409) Military Track, Register and Alert Communities Act of 2015 (Military TRAC Act). The Military TRAC Act would establish a DoD sex offender registry for military personnel convicted of rape, sexual assault, or other sex-based offenses. It would also require military sex offenders to register before their release from military prisons; ensure that information on military sexual offenders is available to civilian law enforcement agencies; and mandate the creation of a website that makes the military sex offender registry available to the public.

HR. 742 (S. 358)  - Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2015. This bill would require the military's health plan, TRICARE, to cover contraceptive services and counseling without co-payments for women members of the Armed Forces and their families. Currently women on active duty have access to contraceptives, while those not on active duty and military dependents have varying levels of access.

* These are awaiting to be assigned formal bill numbers.

It's not always a sure thing....

After a bill has been passed by the House and Senate, it arrives on the President's desk for approval.  The President has the option, which is granted to him by the U.S. constitution, to veto the bill within 10 days and send it back to Capitol Hill.  But that doesn't guarantee the end to that bill.  The Senate needs 67 votes and House needs 290 votes - or 2/3 majority.   There are 44 Democrats in the Senate and 54 Republicans. President Obama has vetoed two bills, which were not overridden, since he was in office.  Franklin D. Roosevelt used his veto 635 times, the most of any President; only nine of his vetoes were overridden. (1)

Filibuster or Bust

If Senators do NOT want a bill to come to the floor for a vote, they can literally debate the bill to death with a Senate tactic called a filibuster.  This is a successful, but not productive, way to stall a bill with endless number of procedural delays and endless hours of debate.  A filibuster only ends when 60 Members of the Senate vote to place a 30-hour time limit on the debate, called cloture. The late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) delivered the longest filibuster in U.S. History.  He spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes in 1957 against the Civil Rights Act. (2)

(1) http://www.senate.gov/reference/Legislation/Vetoes/vetoCounts.htm

(2) http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/tp/Five-Longest-Filibusters.htm

Congress wants to make it easier to cross state lines with a gun. 
STOP the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015 

Tell these Senators* NOT to co-sponsor or support this bill:

Michael Bennet 
Mark Warner 
Chris Donnelly 
Martin Heinrich 
Tom Udall 
Heidi Heitkamp 
Jon Tester  
Susan Collins 
Bob Casey 
Lisa Murkowski  

Call these Senators and urge them NOT to co-sponsor this
dangerous bill. 
  • Federally mandated reciprocity would be an encroachment on states' rights.
  • Federal reciprocity would override important state public safety laws.
  • This law would allow people with no gun safety training, people who have been voluntarily committed for mental illness treatment, and potentially even violent felons to carry concealed, loaded handguns throughout every state, including on playgrounds and in parks.
It is too important to sit this out.


(Not sure who your Senator is? Click here.)

* Senators listed typically support pro-gun legislation. 

JAC's 5th Annual Power of Women Luncheon
June 1st - Mark Your Calendars Today!
This week's issue highlights these key developments here
 and in the Middle East... and some others that you may have missed.
For the latest news, visit us at www.jacpac.org or
Like us on Facebook
Israel & The Middle East 
For Netanyahu, urgency trumps niceties 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be running for office in Israel, but this week he had plenty of strong messages for Jews in the United States and Europe. Speaking Monday in Jerusalem to leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Netanyahu said he would press ahead with plans to speak March 3 to the U.S. Congress even though the speech has roiled the U.S. capital. 

defenseDespite tensions, US-Israel defense relations stay solid 
American-Israeli relations may be enduring a challenging period due to the political drama surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress, but you'd never know it from the recent confirmation hearing for defense secretary nominee Ashton Carter. Longtime observers of the US-Israel relationship say that whatever personal tensions plague interactions between Obama and Netanyahu, defense ties are as sound as ever, bolstered by the longstanding relationships between the militaries, partnerships on several weapons development projects and a shared interest in containing radical Islam. 

Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin & Brig. Gen Shahar Shohat. Source IDFBlog

UN 'alarmed' by Hamas rearming
A senior UN official warned Wednesday that the lack of available funds for the reconstruction of Gaza and the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas militants could lead to a renewal of hostilities in the coastal enclave. During a Security Council briefing on the Middle East, Jeffery Feltman, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, also expressed "alarm" at reports of Hamas efforts to re-arm. He called the terror group's test-firing of rockets, and its attempts to smuggle in materials for potential weapons use, "dangerous developments."
Read Full Article

Don't block Iran negotiations  by Steve Sheffey  
A nuclear-armed Iran would existentially threaten Israel and would spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Opponents of negotiations pay lip service to these truths even as they advance specious arguments against any realistic deal. A good deal - a deal with intrusive inspections, realistic limits on Iran's capabilities, and a length of at least 10 years - is the best realistic chance we have of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  
Read Full Article  
Anti-Semitism & BDS
Anti-Semitism now fashionable in the US, warn experts 
Not a week seems to go by without an anti-Semitic attack in the United States - either verbal or violent - against Jews. "Unfortunately anti-Semitism has become fashionable again," Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president for the New York Board of Rabbis, told The Times of Israel. "It's not a big deal to hate the Jews. The first group that gets attacked is the Jews."
Read Full Article

Mailboxes outside AEPi house at University of Oregon in 2014. Source: Times of Israel

Anti-Semitism spikes in the Badger State
This past Shabbat morning, over 30 families in Madison, WI awoke to find anti-Semitic and racist graffiti covering their homes, garages and driveways. Thus far the incident hasn't been classified a hate crime, since although the incident occurred in a community with a lot of Jewish families, the homes with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti weren't actually owned by blacks or Jews
Read Full Article

Northwestern student government passes divestment resolution 
The Northwestern University student government passed a resolution calling on the university to divest from six companies that are being used by Israel to violate Palestinians' human rights.Following five hours of debate, the vote by the Associated Student Government Senate early Thursday morning was 24 votes in favor and 22 against, with three abstentions, the Daily Northwestern student newspaper reported

After Copenhagen, What Next for Europe?   
Once again, the jihadists have attacked, this time in Copenhagen. Once again, they have murdered innocent people. Once again, they have targeted both democratic values - freedom of speech and the press - and a minority community - the Jews. And once again, Europe has been reminded that it is at the center, not the periphery, of this global challenge. But will they really change anything on the ground? That remains to be seen. 
Read Full Article  
Reproductive Rights
contraceptionCourt: Mandated Birth Control Coverage Doesn't Violate Religious Rights

An appeals court has ruled that the birth control coverage required by federal health care reforms does not violate the rights of several religious groups because they can seek reasonable accommodations. Two western Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses and a private Christian college had challenged the birth control coverage mandates and won lower-court decisions. However, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court ruling Wednesday said the reforms place "no substantial burden" on the religious groups and therefore don't violate their First Amendment rights.

Read Full Article

It's Only February and There Are Already 100 New Anti-Abortion Bills   

Two anti-abortion measures were passed by Oklahoma house delegates Wednesday. The first triples the mandatory wait period for a woman seeking an abortion from one day to three days. The second measure bans abortions at the 20-week mark. More anti-abortion measures snaked their way through state houses this week and will continue to multiply and advance as the election cycle moves forward with Republicans, and even some Democrats, using abortion restrictions as a way to prove their conservative stripes.

Source: It's Personal; National Women's Law Center

Rep. Speier, Sen. Shaheen Reintroduce Bill To End Contraception Copays for Military Women
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) on Wednesday introduced legislation (HR 742, S 358) that would require the military's health plan, TRICARE, to cover contraceptive services and counseling without copayments. Currently, active-duty servicewomen have access to prescription drugs, including contraceptives, without copays. However, women who are not on active duty and other women covered through TRICARE have varying levels of copays, depending on the type of contraceptive. The plan covers nearly 10 million individuals, including service members, military retirees and their families. 
Read Full Article

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on abortion, race and the broken Congress
The Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion isn't in danger of being overturned anytime soon, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told MSNBC in a wide-ranging, exclusive interview. But Ginsburg warned that the abortion restrictions being enacted by states around the country are having an outsize impact on low-income women. "We will never see a day when women of means are not able to get a safe abortion in this country," Ginsburg told msnbc on Friday.   
Read Full Article - View Full Video 
Separation of Religion & State
prayerincommitteePrayer in Congress: Not Just for House and Senate
Meet K. Michael Conaway, a six-term Baptist Republican from Midland, Texas, and the new chairman this year of the House Agriculture Committee. Conaway views his new gavel as authority to further blur the lines in the long-established - though still sometimes controversial - relationship between church and state in the Capitol. And so he's decided, without getting clearance from or even informing GOP leadership, that every hearing or markup at his committee will begin with a prayer.
Oklahoma Bill Banning AP US History Would Make Students Study Ten Commandments, 3 Speeches By Reagan

An Oklahoma bill banning Advanced Placement U.S. History would also require schools to instruct students in a long list of "foundational documents," including the Ten Commandments, two sermons and three speeches by Ronald Reagan.  

Beyond the Core

reciprocityGun groups launch new push for concealed-carry legislation    

Gun rights groups are gearing up for a major push to move concealed-carry legislation through the new Republican Congress. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other Second Amendment advocates are throwing their weight behind the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, a bill introduced in both chambers of Congress that would allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines.

Read Full Article

source: New York Times

A Bid for Guns on Campuses to Deter Rape    
As gun rights advocates push to legalize firearms on college campuses, an argument is taking shape: Arming female students will help reduce sexual assaults. Lawmakers in 10 states who are pushing bills that would permit the carrying of firearms on campus are hoping that the national spotlight on sexual assault will help them win passage of their measures
Israeli gas fuel tech could power future Chryslers, Fiats
Israel's alternative fuels initiative has entered into a deal with several of the world's largest vehicle makers to help develop gas-based fuels. 

Read Full Article  

Political Byte
As David Cohen becomes CIA's No. 2, Jews appear to have smoother sailing at security agencies  
A seasoned Ivy League lawyer who began his career defending the right of religious groups to display menorahs on government property, Cohen was the Obama administration's top Iran sanctions official as the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. David Cohen's path to second in command at the Central Intelligence Agency is, in many respects, a typical one in Washington.
Read Full Article

Stop Whining Conservative Media, Asking Scott Walker About Evolution Is Completely Legit   

Traveling overseas last week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, currently surging in Republican primary polls, stepped into trouble when he was asked if he accepts the theory of evolution. "I am going to punt on that one," said Walker, instantly creating news. "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or another. I am going to leave that up to you." Coming just days after likely White House hopefuls New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) stumbled badly over the issue of vaccinations, and at a time when many leading Republican leaders deny the reality on climate change, Walker's evolution slip-up highlighted the party's penchant for getting tangled up in fights over science. And not just he latest scientific discoveries, but long-settled science.

Read Full Article 

ISIS's Rise Means 2016 May Be a Foreign-Policy Election   
Though conventional wisdom tells us that economic questions will always dominate presidential elections, the rise of ISIS has ensured that anyone who is thinking about the White House needs to have a coherent vision of American foreign policy. 
Read Full Article

Mike Honda Tweets He Is A 'Proud Grandpa' To His Transgender Granddaughter   
Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), longtime advocate for the LGBT community, announced in a tweet Wednesday that he is a "proud grandpa" to his transgender granddaughter. 
Read Full Article

scienceincongressScience under attack in the 114th Congress,
by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) & Andrew Rosenberg, Ph.D 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chair of the House Science Committee, recently wrote, "No, the GOP is not at war with science." But actions speak louder than words. Some in Congress may say science is important, but the truth is we have seen sustained attempts to undermine the use of science in making policy.

 Read Full Article

5 Films That Will Make You Fall in Love with Israel

Israeli cinema has truly taken off in recent decades, tackling subjects that are at once difficult, diverse and enchanting. We check out the five films that really make Israel come to life, showcasing the very best of the country and its people.

Read Full Article 

An American politician in Jerusalem  

How Michael Oren, a frustrated, dyslexic New Jersey teen, became a bestselling author, Israel's US ambassador, and almost certainly the newest English-speaking MK.

Ex-Israeli leader Shimon Peres, 91, thinks he'll see peace in his lifetime  
These are uneasy times in Israel. Tension between Israelis and Palestinians has escalated since the collapse of American-brokered peace talks last year. Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, who at 91 remains active on the world stage and is enjoying a broad popularity that eluded him for many of the years he spent in public office, spoke to The Times about these and other issues during a stop in Los Angeles. 
Former Israeli President Shimon Peres. Source Los Angeles Times 

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Janna Berk, President
Marcia Balonick, Executive Director
Joy Malkus, Research Director 

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Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is a national network committed to the special relationship between the US and Israel and a social agenda that includes reproductive rights and separation of religion and state.  JACPAC supported US Senate and House candidates who uphold this agenda and maintains ongoing dialogue with those it helps elect.  In addition, JACPAC serves as a political resource for the Jewish community, furnishing information about candidates, elections and issues.