On Capitol Hill This Week - March 31 - April 4
On Capitol Hill This Week
Volume XV, Number 7
March 31 - April 4, 2008
All the nations will come and worship before You." (Rev. 15:4)
On Capitol Hill This Week; Vol. XV, No. 7
1. PRESIDENT BUSH LEAVES FOR NATO SUMMIT; RUSSIAN VISIT
Winding down his presidency, George W. Bush is beginning his farewell tour on the world stage trailed by questions about how much clout he still wields. Air Force One roared out of Andrews Air Force Base today to whisk Bush to the first in a long-planned series of global goodbye events. After a brief stop in Ukraine, Bush stops in Romania to attend his last summit with NATO leaders. A few days later, Bush will land in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi for his probable final meeting with Vladimir Putin as Russian president; his successor takes over in May.
This is the busiest travel year in Bush's presidency in terms of the sheer number of trips. He went to the Middle East in January and to Africa in February. After he returns from NATO and Russia, he has five more major excursions on the books - from Europe to Asia, the Middle East to South America. In June, he will travel to Slovenia for his final summit with the European Union. He will attend his last summit of Group of Eight leaders of major industrial economies in Japan in July. He will go to Peru in November for his final meeting with Pacific Rim leaders at the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. More trips may be added as Bush moves closer to the exit and his successor emerges. (AP)
· Please pray for safety for President Bush throughout his trip next week, as he departs today for visits to Ukraine, Romania, Croatia and Russia. Pray that our president finds favor in every nation he visits, and that God's perfect will shall be done and accomplished as a result.
· "He will give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways." (Psalm 91:10)
2. TREASURY'S PLAN WOULD GIVE FED WIDE NEW POWER
The Treasury Department has proposed that Congress give the Federal Reserve broad new authority to oversee financial market stability, in effect allowing it to send SWAT teams into any corner of the industry or any institution that might pose a risk to the overall system. The proposal is part of a sweeping blueprint to overhaul the nation's hodgepodge of financial regulatory agencies, which many experts say failed to recognize rampant excesses in mortgage lending until after they set off what is now the worst financial calamity in decades.
According to a summary provided by the administration, the plan would consolidate an alphabet soup of banking and securities regulators into a powerful trio of overseers responsible for everything from banks and brokerage firms to hedge funds and private equity firms. While the plan could expose Wall Street investment banks and hedge funds to greater scrutiny, it carefully avoids a call for tighter regulation. The plan would not rein in practices that have been linked to the housing and mortgage crisis, like packaging risky subprime mortgages into securities carrying the highest ratings.
Congress would have to approve almost every element of the proposal, and Democratic leaders are already drafting their own bills to impose tougher supervision over Wall Street investment banks, hedge funds and the fast-growing market in derivatives like credit default swaps. The Treasury plan would let Fed officials examine the practices and even the internal bookkeeping of brokerage firms, hedge funds, commodity-trading exchanges and any other institution that might pose a risk to the overall financial system. That would be a significant expansion of the central bank's regulatory mission. Administration officials acknowledged on Friday that they did not expect the proposal to become law this year, but said they hoped it would help frame a policy debate that would extend well after the elections in November. (New York Times)
· Please pray in the Spirit over this proposal for more regulation of America's financial institutions. The plan ultimately will bring the USA in line with the global markets, and we have already lost much of our financial freedoms to such moves, especially our stock market. Our sovereignity is being nibbled away with good intentions. No doubt updating of our regulatory of finances is needed, but we must seek the Lord's wisdom that any improvement comes from what the Lord wants for America, not what the world wants.
· "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)
3. CALIFORNIA COURT TO RECONSIDER HOMESCHOOLING DECISION
After facing fierce backlash by the overwhelming majority of the American people, the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles, California backed down and decided this week to reconsider its outrageous decision last month and to rehear a case involving the rights of parents who want to homeschool their children. On February 28th, three judicial tyrants on this court's panel -- who ruled unanimously -- said that the parents of some 170,000 homeschooled children needed to be certified by the state of California as teachers before they could homeschool their children.
Senator Sam Brownback applauded the court's decision: "I firmly believe that parents have the right and responsibility to oversee the education of their children. Homeschooling is a proven method of education, and has been for generations. Governmental bodies should not try to sweep away the options of parents to teach their children."
Justice H. Walter Croskey in his original decision -- saying uncredentialed parents could not teach their own children -- referred to a similar 1953 appellate court decision. Even the California public school superintendent, Jack O'Connell, denounced the original 3-0 decision by the court's panel saying that traditional public schools might not be the best fit for every student. Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar was similarly outraged over the decision. A homeschool supporter who edits "Homefires," said: "I think the judge recognized that he hadn't done his homework."
It will probably be another few months before the 2nd Court of Appeal will hear oral arguments and another period of time before making its final decision. Michael Farris, co-founder and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association said that California courts tend to have an effect on courts around the United States. About 20 percent of the nation's homeschoolers live in California, Mr. Farris said. (Christian Coalition Of America)
· Praise the Lord for another victory for the power of prayer and of people who speak for what is right. Obviously these judges are afraid that parents homeschooling their children will teach the truth, doing the job far better than many public schools. Keep speaking out until you are the last person standing.
· "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
4. THREE BILLS TO SUPPORT IN THE HOUSE
· Please join us in THIS DECREE as we lift up all three bills, below, for passage in the House of Representatives this spring: "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)
a. Pitts' Amendment to Indian Healthc Care Improvement Act
Congressman Joseph Pitts, R-PA, will be introducing an amendment to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, H.R. 1328, being debated and voted on in the House Energy and Commerce Committee as early as next week, which will prevent taxpayer funding of the Indian Health Service (IHS) from being used for abortions. Senator David Vitter, R-LA, introduced a similar amendment which passed the full Senate by a margin of 52-42 last month.
b. "The Internet SAFETY Act of 2007"
Congressman Lamar Smith has introduced this bill (H.R. 837) to give law enforcement officers more tools in their fight against child pornography and against pedophiles who traffic in child pornography. Congressman Smith's bill specifically amends the federal criminal code to prohibit: (1) financial transactions in interstate or foreign commerce that facilitate access to, or the possession of, child pornography; and (2) Internet content hosting providers or email service providers from facilitating access to, or the possession of, child pornography. The bill increases criminal penalties for the sexual exploitation of children and for activities involving the sexual exploitation of children and child pornograph and it requires commercial website operators to place warning marks prescribed by the Federal Trade Commission on web pages that contain sexually explicit materials.
c. "Blogger Protection Act of 2008"
This week Congressman Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, announced that he will be introducing the "Blogger Protection Act of 2008" to put the Federal Election Commission's regulatory protections of the freedom of bloggers into law. Congressman Hensarling said that "Two years ago, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued regulations that protected bloggers from being hampered by certain campaign finance laws. Under these regulations, bloggers cannot be considered to have made a contribution or expenditure on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate simply because they link to campaign websites or write about the positions of federal candidates. Additionally, blogs are treated as any other publication under the general media exemption from most campaign finance restrictions. Without such protections, bloggers could be subject to various limitations and reporting requirements under campaign finance law.
(Source for all of the above: Christian Coalition of America)
5. SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR JUSTIFIES PRAYER LIMITS
A former member of the U.S. Supreme Court serving on an appeals court panel has justified a city's decision to ban prayers at council meetings that are "in Jesus name," calling it a "reasonable" restriction on a councilman's speech rights. The comments came this week as the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard a case handled by the Rutherford Institute on behalf of Rev. Hashmel Turner, a resident of Fredericksburg, Va., and a member of its town council, who was part of a rotation of council members who took turns bringing a prayer at the council meetings, and he ended his prayers "in Jesus name." An offended listener promptly brought several heavyweight activist groups into the picture with the threat of a lawsuit if the elected Christian council member wasn't censored. So the city adopted a policy requiring "nondenominational" prayers, effectively eliminating any reference to "Jesus."
John Whitehead, the founder and chief of the Rutherford Institute, told WND it's an issue of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, burdened with the politically correct atmosphere in the U.S. that appears to endorse or at least allow any sort of religious acknowledgement, except for Christians. He said the Fredericksburg case is one of the first to be battled through the courts and is being watched closely by city councils and state legislatures across the country.
Whitehead, president of the Charlottesville-based Rutherford Institute, said if necessary the case will be forwarded to the U.S. Supreme Court. "Because he wants to pray to a particular God, he's not being treated equally," he said. WND has reported several times on various religious leaders, including one high- profile Hindu from Arizona, who have been asked to say prayers at various state legislatures and in the U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, leaders in the Senate specifically rejected permission for a Christian leader, former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, to do the same.
"The answer, as the Supreme Court has ruled in the past, is in the negative - the government simply cannot prescribe or proscribe the content of any 'official' prayer without violating the Establishment Clause, and it cannot discriminate against any person based on his or her religious viewpoint without violating that person's rights to free speech and free religious expression," he said. "There are some things in life that cannot be compromised," he continued. "For Hashmel Turner, his faith, his integrity and his civil liberties are three things worth fighting for." Read more. (WorldNetDaily)
· Pray for the salvation of those who refuse to allow the Name of "Jesus" to be uttered in the public square, for there is no name in heaven or upon earth by which we might be saveed. Praise the Lord for the stands of Rev. Turner and John Whitehead. Who is the ACLU to battle against the Lord? Enough is enough, and the line has been drawn in the sand.
· "Take heed to yourselves, that your hearts be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them." ( Deuteronomy 11: 16)
6. FILIBUSTERED JUDGES - STUCK IN SENATE COMMITTEE
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee continue to delay and obstruct the confirmation of President Bush's nominees to the Federal Bench and Executive agencies. Approximately 180 nominees have been kept waiting for confirmation, some for over two years. Such filibusters are not popular with voters and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) says the time for "playing nice" had passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Committee Republicans say a variety of parliamentary tactics are available: objecting to unanimous consent requests to allow committees to meet, prohibiting routine business on the Senate floor and denying quorums at Judiciary Committee meetings. (Family Research Council Prayer Targets)
· Father, help God-fearing men and women in Congress use their minds, voices and votes to do what they can, while they can. Forgive us for having had a chance to make change and not to have used it. Guide those in the Senate committee effectively to use the parliamentary tools they have to see good men and women confirmed to the courts and agencies.
· "Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth;, hating covetousness; and place over them, to be rulers of thousands and rulers of hundred, ruler of fifties and rulers of tens." (Exodus 18:21)
7. ORGANIZERS OF NAU TO MEET IN NEW ORLEANS THIS MONTH
STATEMENT BY MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SECURITY AND PROPERITY PARTNERSHIP OF NORTH AMERICA
In preparation for our leaders' meeting in New Orleans on April 21-22, we, the ministers responsible for the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) met to review progress on the five priorities identified by leaders and to discuss cooperative approaches to common challenges and opportunities. This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA has been a tremendous success: trade and commerce among our countries have grown exponentially. Trilateral merchandise trade is approximately $900 billion in 2007, significantly contributing to economic growth and increased standards of living in all three countries.
The SPP builds on this dynamic relationship by providing Canada, Mexico and the United States a partnership to build a safer, more secure and economically dynamic North America, while respecting the sovereignty, laws, unique heritage, and culture of each country.
We reaffirm our commitment to the objectives of the SPP. We are convinced that greater cooperation and coordination will bring benefits to our countries. As we prepare for the next leaders` Summit in New Orleans, we will continue to work together to ensure progress. (www.commerce.gov) [Read more]
· Again, the intentions of the SPP sound so excellent and smooth that first glance gains our approval. However, the outcome is to blend the three nations into one, eliminating the sovereignity of each. Does the USA want to become part of Mexico or part of Canada, which is part of the commonwealth of the United Kingdom (Britain)? There are already means in place for the tracking of criminals and trade without becoming all one nation. Pray for the US officials who attend this upcoming summit in April that no aspect of America's nationhood will be jeopardized. There will be enormous pressure on them.
· "I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies." (Psalm 18:3)
8. CONDOLEEZZA RICE MEETS WITH BARAK, ABBAS THIS WEEK
"Israel is living up to its commitments and has demonstrated a willingness to make life easier for the Palestinian population-this in the hopes of moving ahead with the peace process begun in Annapolis, to which we are dedicated. Having said this, Israel's actions depend first and foremost on the need to defend its citizens," Defense Minister Ehud Barak is expected to tell US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice upon the latter's visit to the region the weekend of March 29-30.
Rice will arrive ahead of schedule for a round of high- profile meetings intended to inject energy into the peace process, which the United States fears is losing momentum. On March 30 the secretary will hold a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and later join Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for a three- way meeting.(YNet News; Reported by Bridges for Peace; edited)
· Pray that the pressure from the Bush Administration will not cause the Israeli leaders to surrender their responsibility to defend their land and their biblical right to Eretz Yisrael.
· "So that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God." (Proverbs 2:2-5)
9. PURIM TRAGEDY SPARKS WORLDWIDE PRAYER AND SUPPORT
[On] March 19, Ami Ortiz, the son of David Ortiz, an Israeli pastor came home to his Ariel home and opened a holiday package. After all, it was Purim and many people send gifts at this time of year. Purim celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from Haman's plan to annihilate them. In Hebrew, these holiday gifts are called "Mishlo'ach Manot." Like most brightly decorated packages at this time of year, Ami thought it was a gift. Instead it was a bomb.
The force of the blast was so strong; it shattered car windows three stories below the Ortiz apartment. The explosion tore at Ami's young 15-year-old frame. He suffered major injuries including second and third degree burns, shrapnel in one lung and wounds from head to toe. At first, doctors warned Ami's parents, David and Leah, that their youngest child of six might not survive. However, early Friday morning, he experienced what even the doctors called a "miracle" turnaround. However, he still has a long road to recovery.
Ami's father, David is well known to CBN News. We first met David about ten years ago when he spoke out on behalf of a Palestinian Christian who was being tortured by the Palestinian Authority for his new found faith in Jesus. David has spent years sharing his faith with many Palestinian Arabs, often at the risk of his own life. David is one of the most courageous men of God I have the privilege to know. He's had a death threat in the form of an Islamic religious edict pronounced against him and intimidating threats from ultra-religious Jews. Despite this, he continues to share his faith for "whomever will." At this time, I would encourage believers around the world to lift up David, his wife Leah, Ami and his entire family at this time.
Here are some specific prayer requests:
- Ami needs prayer for the full restoration of his body.
- Prayer for those responsible to be brought to justice.
- Prayer for the Ortiz family to be strengthened and encouraged in the Lord.
- Prayer that what the enemy meant for evil would be turned around for good.
(By Chris Mitchell, CBN News, March 25, 2008)
10. H.R. 185: TO SUPPORT JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN REFUGEES
On February 27, 2008, a unanimous bi-partisan decision insisted in a new United Nations Resolution that all international forums when referring to "refugees" make explicit reference to Jewish, Christian and minorities who all suffered human rights violations when ejected from Arab lands. Resolution HR 185 recognized 850,000 Jewish people in that refugee category.
On March 31, this Resolution will go to a full and final vote in the United States House of Representatives. The Resolution was spearheaded by Representative Jerrold Nadler (NY-D) along with Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinan (FL-R), Representative Michael Ferguson (NJ-R) and Representative Joseph Crowley (NY-D). (Bridges for Peace) · Pray for passage of this bill . . . and signature into law.
· "For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns." (Isaiah 62:1)
11. VATICAN, SAUDIS DISCUSS FIRST CHURCH TO BE BUILT IN KINGDOM
The Vatican is negotiating with authorities in Saudi Arabia for permission to build the kingdom's first Roman Catholic church, according to sources in the Holy See. The move evidently heralds a major policy change towards the nearly one million Christians, mostly from the Philippines and India, in the unbending conservative Wahhabi kingdom. Vatican sources said the negotiations for a church to be built are based on the principle of reciprocity. Rome, the cradle of Catholicism, is also home to the largest mosque in Europe, built with Saudi money and opened in 1995. Christians living in Saudi are not allowed to observe their faith at all, and religious police there search homes for Bibles, any religious symbols, and any observances such as Christmas. (Washington Times) · Praise the Lord that a door into the Moslem country that spawned Osama bin Laden may be opening. You may remember that the Saudis did not want American soldiers during the Persian Gulf War to bring Bibles into their country. Perhaps American leaders can exercise reciprocity for building a Protestant church in Saudi Arabia also. All things are possible with the Holy Spirit. · "And Jesus, looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:27)
12. SAUDI KING TO ORGANIZE INTERFAITH CONFERENCE
INCLUDES JEWISH PARTICIPANTS
Saudi King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud announced [on] March 25 that he will organize a series of meetings involving representatives of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths in an attempt to foster dialogue between adherents of the three main monotheistic faiths. The king announced that his goal in generating this interfaith dialogue is to attempt to prevent the rapid decline in morals and traditional family values rampant in society, and to restore loyalty and caring as guiding principles in our world.
The London-based Arab language publications Al- Hayat and al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Tuesday that the Saudi monarch had stated that humanity is currently facing a serious moral crisis. He also noted that he spoke to Pope Benedict XVI regarding these proposed interfaith meetings, and that "the pontiff greeted him at eye level as a fellow human being in a meeting that he will not soon forget."
Saudi clerics, revealed the king, were also enthusiastic regarding this interfaith conference. "With Allah's aid, we will meet our brethren of the Torah and the New Testament. Together we will prevent the decay of morality and family values in our society, and replace the contempt and hurtfulness omnipresent in our world with genuine human fealty." (YnetNews; Reported by: Bridges for Peace) · Pray for freedom of religion for Christians in Saudi Arabia, where owning a Bible is against the law.
· "The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open." (Isaiah 22:22)
This Week, Worship Our Lord As . . .
STRONG TOWER (Meegdahl Oz)
"The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe."
Lord, in times of distress, help me to run to You, O Strong Tower. You are my protection amid the storms of life. Thank You for Your sovereign protection and Your faithfulness.
(Taken from: Intimate Moments with the Hebrew Names of God, by Barri Cae Malin and Shmuel Wolkenfeld; Bridge-Logos Publishers; Gainesville, FL, 32614. ISBN: 0-88270-801-5)