"Like Your name, O God, Your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is filled with righteousness." (Psalm 48:10)
On Capitol Hill This Week; Vol. XV, No. 8
1. PRESIDENT BUSH FINISHES EAST EUROPEAN, RUSSIAN TOUR
U.S., RUSSIA CAN'T AGREE ON MISSILE- DEFENSE DEAL
At their 28th and final meeting as heads of state, Bush and Putin sought to emphasize their good personal relations, praising each other extensively. But they also both acknowledged remaining strong disagreements, principally missile defense and NATO's eastward expansion.
Putin called the U.S. missile plan - which envisions basing tracking radar sites in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland - the hardest of U.S.-Russian differences to reconcile. "This is not about language. This is not about diplomatic phrasing or wording. This is about the substance of the issue," he said.
Bush reiterated his insistence that the plan - designed to intercept and destroy approaching ballistic missiles at high altitudes - should not be viewed as a threat to Russia. In a clear reference to Iran, he said the system would help protect Europe from "regimes that could try to hold us hostage. I view this as defensive, not offense," Bush said. "And, obviously, we've got a lot of work to convince the experts this defense system is not aimed at Russia."
Regarding NATO's eastward expansion, Russia remains adamantly opposed to the expansion of the alliance into its backyard, an enlargement that Bush has actively championed over Putin's vocal objections. The Sochi meeting came just days after NATO leaders agreed at a summit in Romania to invite Albania and Croatia to join the alliance. However, the alliance rebuffed U.S. attempts to begin the process of inviting Ukraine and Georgia, both former Soviet republics, to join, although their eventual admission seems likely. (AP)
· Pray for the soul of Vladimir Putin, that he may be softened towards his own people, towards the West, and towards the claims of the Gospel. Pray for a shift in the attitudes of the Russians towards the vital need for a missile defense plan, for this discussion cannot be allowed to fade away.
· "Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." (Psalm 2:10-12)
2. IN THE SENATE: HOUSING CRISIS ADDRESSED
Virtually this entire week has been spent on the Housing issue, with Democrats wanting to spend billions of dollars to bail out speculators who bought over priced condos. The Democrats get more money from millionaires and billionaires than any other source. As a result they attack corporations owned by small investors like you and me while ignoring the billionaire speculators. The latest attack is on the oil companies for high gas prices while ignoring billionaire speculators who are running up the price of crude oil with speculative buys.The price of crude according to experts would be $75 to $80 per barrel if speculators who bought oil future contracts for pennies on the dollar were not in the market. (Religious Freedom Coalition; edited)
· The current global financial meltdown has many complex aspects, and only our Heavenly Father knows it all. Pray for our leaders in Congress as they address a variety of intertwined issues: housing foreclosures, the depressed economy, oil and gas prices, and the subprime mortgage crisis. They need to have all the wisdom possible to address each item: one step at a time.
· "Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Proverbs 8:10,11)
3. SENATE SHUTDOWN THREATENED OVER JUDICIAL CRISIS
SUMMARY: Senator Arlen Specter Threatens to Shut Down the Senate Unless President Bush's Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Get a Vote on the Senate Floor
Yesterday morning, 8 thoroughly disgusted Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee put Chairman Leahy on the defensive for some 30 minutes, asking him why he was obstructing President Bush's judicial nominees. Senator Tom Coburn, R-OK, specifically asked Senator Leahy about why he would not allow a vote on Judge Robert Conrad, who President Bush nominated for a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacancy. The badgering of Chairman Leahy by the Republicans did bear some fruit as Catharina Haynes, President Bush's nominee to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was finally voted out of committee and hopefully will get a Senate floor vote soon.
In Wednesday's "The Wall Street Journal," it said that the Republicans led by Judiciary Committee ranking member Arlen Specter were ready for "a series of procedural stalls that would make it next to impossible for the Senate to get anything done." "The "Wall Street Journal" also described the liberal Democrats' strategy: "The Democratic Senate has confirmed a mere six nominees with no plans in sight to move the remaining 11 forward. Judicial nominees rarely are confirmed in the final months of a President's second term, so the clock is running out. Democrats figure they'll be retake the White House in November, and they don't mind leaving the courts short-handed for another year or two as they stall for liberal nominee." (Christian Coalition of America)
· Praise the Lord for the showdown between the Republican members of the Judiciary committee and Chairman Leahy. Pray for the Republican members as they take reasonable stands against the tactics of Sen. Leahy. Ask the Lord to move agendas around so that the names of these qualified judges are brought to the floor of the Senate for vote and are confirmed. We need conservative judges sitting on the various courts of appeals, as we were just exposed to what liberal judges on the Ninth Circuit did to homeschooling in California.
· "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:11)
4. IN THE HOUSE: DEMOCRATS CONTINUE TO BLOCK PASSAGE OF FISA
Although reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) passed the Senate overwhelmingly with bipartisan majorities, Speaker of the Hose Nancy Pelosi has continued to stonewall any attempts to pass the legislation which protects our country against terrorist attacks. Instead of passing this bipartisan bill, Speaker Pelosi "rammed through on a 213-197 vote FISA legislation" she knew President Bush would not sign because her bill failed to include essential reform: retroactive liability protection for the patriotic telecommunications companies which responded to federal government calls for assistance in monitoring communications following the September 11th attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY said on FISA: "The House had a chance to make the necessary changes before the recess. But it chose an irresponsible path instead, passing an amendment to the bipartisan Senate bill that included none of the things the Director of National Intelligence had called for. Ignoring the carefully-crafted Senate bill, the House decided it was more important to let people sue phone companies that stepped up when the country needed them to."
Incredibly, 14 "moderate Blue Dog Democrats" provided the margin of victory for Speaker Pelosi's incredibly dangerous to American security legislation. Democrats in fairly conservative districts who voted with Speaker Pelosi: Congressmen Joe Baca (CA); John Barrow (GA); Melissa Bean (IL); Marion Berry (AK); Leonard Boswell (IA); Allen Boyd (FL); Brad Ellsworth (IN); Jim Matheson (UT); Charlie Melancon (LA); Dennis Moore (KA); Earl Pomeroy (ND); Mike Ross (AK); Zack Space (OH); and John Tanner (TN.) Lincoln Davis (TN) voted "present." (Christian Coalition of America)
· Those of you who are constituents of the above listed congressmen, please call their offices and request that they vote for the passage of the FISA bill as set out by the Senate now. Let each office know that the protection of our nation is more important than politics. Pray before you call so that you are persuasive and positive. Call 202-225-3121 or you can go to http://www.cc.org/contactcongress.cfm and email them and urge them to demand that their Democrat leadership allow a vote on the bipartisan Senate FISA bill which passed the Senate overwhelmingly.
· "And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression:" (Deuteronomy 26:7)
5. ANSWERED PRAYER: HOUSE PASSES REVISED PEPFAR BILL
Last week, the House passed a five-year, $50 billion reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that addresses some of FRC's concerns on abortion, contraception, and conscience protections. By a vote of 308 to 116, members made a costly commitment to prolong what is widely considered a successful program for tackling overseas HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. . .
After FRC went to bat for a continued emphasis on the abstinence and fidelity components, the end result is that both House and Senate bills (which is currently awaiting floor action) require a "balanced" approach to prevention. While no fixed percentage is included, the abstinence strategy will retain its prominent place in "behavior change" programs. The conscience protection provision was also noticeably improved. Not only are faith-based groups exempt from performing activities with which they disagree, but the House and Senate bills also state that the government cannot discriminate against religious organizations as they seek funding.
While it's an improvement over the original House draft, significant changes must still be made to clarify the language on a number of issues. Until the final version passes in the Senate, FRC will continue its work with Congress and the administration to make those changes and to oppose any abortion provisions that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) may try to sneak in. (Family Research Council)
· Offer praise for this good report, and continue in prayer and in action, as requested, until the Senate version of this bill has been passed with the correct, pro-abstinence language included. Praise God!
· "He which hath begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 1:6)
6. REP. PENCE INTRODUCES "TITLE X ABORTION PROVIDER PROHIBITION ACT"
Christian Coalition of America commends Congressman Mike Pence, R-IN, "Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act" which will prevent groups such as Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds because it uses abortions as a method of family planning. Congressman Pence was quoted in Cybercast News Service: "I just think it's wrong that the largest abortion provider in America is the largest recipient of non-abortion funding under Title X." In a fact sheet put out by his office, Congressman Pence said that Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, providing over 289,000 abortions procedures in 2005, states in their 2006-2007 annual report that it received more than a third of its budget -- $336.7 million -- from "Government Grants and Contracts."
Planned Parenthood was founded in the early 1900's by the infamous racist named Margaret Sanger, which now receives an astounding $1 BILLION dollars each year by killing unborn children, etc., including $336.7 million in American taxpayer dollars. A study done by the Government Accounting Office determined that, during the five-year period from 1997 to fiscal year 2001, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates received $661.5 million in federal funding for "reproductive health activities," i.e. activities related to abortion.
As Congressman Pence has said, how can we justify giving this much federal money to an organization that performed 264,000 abortions in 2005? Why should tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans sustain and underwrite private abortion providers?
· It is bad enough that Planned Parenthood exists at all, much less with the help of vast sums of taxpayer monies. Praise God that this bill will be introduced in Congress, and pray for its passage. Pray, too, for all those who are working for Planned Parenthood, for they know not what they do. Finally, pray for increased funding for pregnancy crisis centers, and for all those who are working to save the lives of these precious unborn babies.
· "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)
7. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY GRANTS STATES "REAL ID" EXTENSION
The Homeland Security Department announced Wednesday that it has granted all 50 states extensions to a requirement that they produce new tamper-proof driver's licenses. The extensions allow people to continue to use their current licenses to board airplanes and enter federal buildings until the law requiring more secure licenses begins to take effect in 2014. The "REAL ID law" was passed by Congress in 2005 after the 9/11 Commission reported that 18 of the 19 hijackers had obtained driver's licenses that allowed them to board planes. The law requires states to make licenses more secure by verifying each applicant's citizenship and address, sharing information with other state motor vehicle departments and creating licenses that are more difficult to forge. (USA Today)
· Lord, we thank You for this extension, so that remaining concerns about the "REAL ID" program can be addressed. Without crossing the lines of privacy laws, give wisdom to those who are making ID's secure and tamper-proof.
· "And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid." (Ezekiel 34:28)
8. SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS AMERICAN LAW OVER INTERNATIONAL LAW
Last week, in a somewhat surprising United States Supreme Court decision, the court by a 6-3 margin -- with two majority votes provided by President George W. Bush's two nominees: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito -- said that President Bush lacked the legal authority to grant a new hearing in the case of a Mexican national on death row in the 1993 gang rape and murder of two Houston teen-age girls.
"The Washington Times" reported that "the ruling written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., said Mr. Bush erred in siding with the 2004 decision by the International Court of Justice when it said that Medellin's conviction and those of 50 other Mexican nationals nationwide violated the 1963 Vienna Convention, which gives those arrested abroad access to their home country's counselor officials."
Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz had made the strong argument -- now upheld by the United States Supreme Court -- that President Bush did not have "unilateral authority to force the state courts to obey a decision by the world court."
Christian Coalition of America commends President Bush for appointing to the Supreme Court such great champions of American sovereignty who are willing to overrule the radical internationalists in the Bush State Department. As "The Wall Street Journal" said in its editorial on March 28, 2008: "(The Supreme Court) insulated American law from the international variety. And this modest and limited ruling should help restore those two qualities to U.S. courts, which is no doubt one of the reasons the Roberts Court's political opponents are so livid." (Christian Coalition of America)
· Praise the Lord that the US Supreme Court upheld its sovereignty over that of the international World Court. As we know, some of the justices appointed by previous presidents have tried to bring the US under the World Court and even traveled to Europe during recesses to achieve that status. Undergird Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito with your prayers to face the onslaught of pressure that strikes at them. Give thanks.
· "For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God." (1 Thessalonians 3:9)
9. US HOUSE SPEAKER PELOSI REBUKES CHINA ON TIBET CRACKDOWN
U.S. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says Tibet presents a challenge to the world's conscience and has called for an international investigation into the causes of the recent unrest in the region which China controls. China has retaliated by saying Tibet is its own affair. The strong message from the U.S. House of Representatives speaker, Nancy Pelosi, came on Friday after she met Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala, where his government-in-exile is based.
On a visit to India, Pelosi is the first senior foreign official to meet the Dalai Lama since international attention turned on Tibet following a crackdown by Chinese authorities on last week's violent, anti- government protests. Thousands of cheering Tibetans greeted Pelosi in Dharamsala. She said the world needs to raise its voice on the Tibet issue. She called for an outside investigation into the violence in Tibet, saying China's claims that the Dalai Lama orchestrated the protests in the region made no sense. She said Beijing should open the region to independent monitors and the international media.
Pelosi's strong words drew an equally strong response from the Chinese ambassador, Zhang Yan, in New Delhi. He told reporters that Tibet is China's internal affair, and "no country, organization or person should utter irresponsible words." The international community has called for restraint from China in handling the recent violence in Tibet, where rights groups say resentment against Chinese rule runs deep. China says the violence was orchestrated by the Dalai Lama to sabotage the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing. (Voice of America)
· Certainly as Americans and Christians, we want any country to break free from oppressive rule by a larger, tolitarian government. Just so, we want to see the people of Tibet set free from the Buddhism of the Dalai Lama and know the peace and freedom of living in Jesus Christ. Whether or not Mrs. Pelosi has the right to scold the Chinese for their violent attacks in Tibet is a matter for history to judge. Pray in the Spirit over this matter.
· "Deliver me [Tibet], O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man." (Psalm 71:4)
10. 40 YEARS LATER: AMERICA REMEMBERS DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
The Dream Didn't Die with Martin Luther King
Forty years ago, an assassin gunned down a spirited visionary whose days were spent crusading against the very violence and bigotry that ultimately took his life. Taken in the prime of his years and the height of his influence, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King would never live to see his dream of racial harmony realized. In the four decades since Rev. King's death, the gulf between black and white remains the most intense divide in America - largely because we have sought unity primarily through networking, public policy, or lobbying techniques. Few seem to understand that the solution is the same as it was 40 years ago. We must recognize what Rev. King did - that racism is not just a social problem in America; it is at root a spiritual problem. If we are to change the social climate of our nation, a cause to which Rev. King gave his very life, we must unite around a biblical worldview that can include all races and generations.
That challenge is made more difficult in this new era, when simply to speak from a pulpit and to call for righteousness in the land strikes some secularists as a threat to our core liberties. As Reverend King said, "The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority." It is time for America to see the church as an unbiased representative of Christ. As a nation, we must rally behind clear-thinking, visionary leaders who will work for a nation that is both colorblind and infused with character. Martin Luther King understood the unique place churches have in our society. If we are to honor his memory, we must defend and rebuild the place of faith communities in bridging the racial gap. (Family Research Council)
· Offer prayer that the seeds of racial reconciliation that were planted by Dr. King, and many others who have followed, would bear fruit quickly, lest our nation be rent asunder, once again.
· "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one . . ." (John 17:20,21)
11. REPORT: IDF KILLS MASTERMIND OF JERUSALEM TERROR ATTACK
Muhammad Shahade, an Islamic Jihad operative who Palestinian sources say was behind the terror attack in Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem March 6, has been killed by Israel Defense Forces [IDF] forces in Bethlehem Wednesday afternoon, local witnesses reported. According to reports, another three militants have been killed in the raid, one of them an Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member. Military sources said that the four men were responsible for a series of terror attacks against Israel in the years 2000-2001, but did not attribute the Jerusalem attack to Shahade. Shahade, a former Fatah member and an Islamic Jihad operative, has been known to have extensive ties with Hizbullah.
Palestinian sources reported that IDF forces have operated in the city, close to the Mukataa compound, and that several Palestinians have been injured. He said that Shahade was the target of the raid. A senior wanted terror suspect, Muhammad Balbul, has reportedly been injured in the clashes.Two days after the Jerusalem attack, which was carried out by Alaa Abu Dheim and left eight students killed, the police reported they have arrested eight people suspected of involvement in the attack. (Ynetnews.com) [Reported by: Bridges for Peace]
· Pray those involved in acts of terrorism will effectively pause for peace. Pray leaders will achieve an effective ceasefire and finally halt the violence of radical elements that defy leadership and prolong agony.
· "His trouble shall return upon his own head, And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown." (Ps. 7:16)
12. JEWS ACROSS ISRAEL GATHER TO REPENT AND PRAY
"Historically and traditionally, whenever the Jewish people have been threatened, they have responded with an outpouring of prayer and repentance."
(Israel) - Jews in 40 cities and towns across Israel held prayer and repentance services on April 3 in response to growing military threats against them. According to Israel National News, "Historically and traditionally, whenever the Jewish people have been threatened, they have responded with an outpouring of prayer and repentance." The prayer services reportedly took place in: Jerusalem, Ofakim, Nof Ayalon, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Tel Tzion, Be'er Sheva, Beit Shemesh, Bnei Brak, Bat Yam, Afula, Petach Tikvah, Givatayim, Nesher, Tel Aviv and some 20 other cities and locations on both sides of the Green Line. (Jerusalem Newswire)
· Offer praise to the Lord for this great outpouring of fervent prayer among the Jewish people in Israel; and praise the Lord that He does hear and answer! May we, in our nation, learn to do the same!
· "I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah." (Psalm 3:4)