On Thursday, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) introduced a resolution to protect women by preventing gender ideology from redefining biological sex.
Lesko was joined in the resolution by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), titling it the “Women’s Bill of Rights.” In a press release, Lesko declared that the resolution would not only protect but affirm the importance of women.
“Now more than ever, we must protect women’s rights and combat the left’s attempts to erase women,” stated Lesko.
The resolution would define “sex” as a person’s biological sex from birth, “female” as an individual whose biological reproductive system is developed to fertilize their ova, “woman” and “girl” as human females, and “man” and “boy” as human males. The resolution also would declare that “equal” doesn’t mean “same” or “identical,” and that “separate” didn’t indicate inherent inequality.
With these definitions, the resolution would require schools and all levels and divisions of government to identify subjects of data gathering as either male or female at birth, such as for public health, crime, and economic data. It also would make all policies and laws distinguishing sexes subject to intermediate constitutional scrutiny, a test employed by courts to determine the constitutionality of a statute that negatively impacts certain protected classes. Statutes pass scrutiny if they further an important government interest and employ means of accomplishing that interest that are substantially related to that interest.
Further, the resolution would warrant discrimination in certain circumstances.
“There are legitimate reasons to distinguish between the sexes with respect to athletics, prisons or other detention facilities, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, locker rooms, restrooms, and other areas where biology, safety, and/or privacy are implicated,” stated the resolution.
Lesko and Hyde-Smith first introduced the resolution last May, in the 117th Congress. It was referred to the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee last November, but never made it any further. During a press conference last year, Lesko argued that the necessity of her resolution proved that the country has gone “to hell in a handbasket.”
“The world is totally upside down when I have to introduce legislation to define a woman versus a man,” said Lesko. “More and more often our colleagues on the left are trying to erase women.”
That version of the Women’s Bill of Rights was included in the Republican Study Committee (RSC) Family Policy Agenda ahead of the midterm elections. The agenda issued over 80 recommendations to better align the GOP with its goal of advancing families’ interests, focusing on child protections, increased economic power for working families, additional parental rights, increased flexibility to child care, elimination of policies discouraging family formation, incentives to work, school choice, higher education reforms, foster care and adoption reforms, and abortion abolition.
The RSC was established 50 years ago for the purpose of coordinating research efforts by conservative congressmen.
Lesko and Hyde-Smith were assisted in crafting the resolution by the Independent Women’s Law Center and Independent Women’s Voice, two related women’s advocacy organizations.
Independent Women’s Law Center Director Jennifer Braceras said that rooting out sex discrimination won’t be possible without proper definitions of biological sex.
“We can’t fight sex discrimination if we can’t agree on what it means to be a woman. And we can’t collect accurate data regarding public health, medicine, education, crime, and the economic status of women if we redefine sex to mean ‘gender identity,’” said Braceras.
Arizona’s congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle didn’t appear too fond of the Democrat-led Congress’ $1.7 trillion, 4,000-page spending bill.
Republicans decried the plan entirely, first noting the Democrats’ last-minute submission of the legislation for review and demand for a vote. They admonished what they considered excessive spending, especially given the nation’s current financial insecurity. Democrats that commented on the spending bill, which were few, were more vocal about the aspects they disliked than the virtues of the package. However, Democrats ultimately voted for the bill.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) declared that the omnibus was an “assault” on the people, separation of powers, and fiscal responsibility. He warned it would devalue the American dollar to “unprecedented levels.”
Biggs and representative-elect Eli Crane signed onto a letter led by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) urging the Senate GOP to unify their 41 votes to kill the bill.
Biggs said that Republican resistance on the spending bill would allow the incoming Republican-led House to hold the FBI accountable for suppressing free speech online.
Biggs also shared commentary from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) disputing Democrats’ claim that Republicans were holding up the spending bill. Paul reminded the public and press that the Democrat-led Congress, just as with every other Congress, knows the deadline.
Watch here for Biggs’ full remarks on the omnibus:
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) said the bill was “America Last” in nature. He criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for prioritizing Ukraine over America.
Gosar listed a litany of real issues facing the country: inflation, declining wages, World War II-era shortages and supply chain issues, record crime levels, a weaponized Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI censorship and political persecution, Big Tech monopoly colluding with the DOJ, Biden family corruption with illegal Ukrainian bribes, record levels of broken families, a transgenderism crisis, failing infrastructure, record low confidence in government, broken elections systems, inept public health systems, COVID-19 vaccine harms, declining military, over $31 trillion in debt.
“Yet the Omnibus bill failed to remedy a single one of these very real problems. Not one. In fact, it rewards the DOJ, the FBI and the failed military leadership with more money and no reforms and no investigations. Not a dime is allocated towards securing our own border,” said Gosar.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) said the plan was “reckless.” Lesko noted that the country’s interest payments would surpass the entire Department of Defense (DOD) budget on a yearly basis ($742 billion).
Lesko also noted that 63 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
“We cannot continue spending money that we don’t have,” said Lesko.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) backed the bill, declaring that further funding for Ukraine was a good thing. However, Sinema did break with her former party (she now identifies as an independent) to speak out on border policy within the bill. Sinema reaffirmed dedication on a bipartisan solution with Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) for border legislation.
As AZ Free News reported last week, Sinema has been attempting to broker a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for increased border security measures.
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) hasn’t commented on the omnibus as of press time.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07) hasn’t commented either, though he did signal support for Ukraine once again.
Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ-09) criticized the decision to leave out the Afghan Adjustment Act, legislation to expedite the legal status process for Afghan evacuees. Stanton signaled his support for Ukraine as well.
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-02) had the most favorable view of the spending bill. She championed the legislation as a great increase in funding for Arizona.
On Tuesday, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for requiring schools to adopt gender ideology practices in order to receive free or reduced lunch funds. About half of Arizona’s children rely on those meals.
The federal government supplements states with funds to provide free or reduced meals for low-income K-12 students. As AZ Free News reported, the Biden administration updated its Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) guidelines for its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to clarify that protected classes within anti-discrimination policy included sexual orientation and gender identity. In the context of Biden’s correlating executive order, the guidelines would likely require schools to allow bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams open to gender identity.
Brnovich asserted in a press release that the Biden administration’s actions are unlawful.
“USDA Choice applies to beef at the market, not to our children’s restrooms,” said Brnovich. “This threat of the Biden administration to withhold nutritional assistance for students whose schools do not submit to its extreme agenda is unlawful and despicable.”
Arizona’s lawsuit is part of a 22-state coalition led by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery. The remainder of the coalition includes Indiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Altogether, the 22 states receive over $28.6 billion in SNAP benefits for over 15.4 million individuals.
The states’ complaint asserted that President Joe Biden directed federal agencies to rewrite federal law in order to align with his January 2021 executive order to “prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity.” The lawsuit further asserted that the USDA circumvented the mandatory legal process outlined in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to implement their new guidelines.
The states described the new guidelines as “arbitrary, capricious, [and] an abuse of discretion.” Specifically, their lawsuit alleged that the Biden administration failed to observe procedures required by law for guideline updates, misinterpreted Title IX, violated anti-commandeering and non-delegation doctrines, and violated the Constitution’s Spending Clause, First Amendment, Tenth Amendment, and separation of powers.
“To be clear, the States do not deny benefits based on a household member’s sexual orientation or gender identity. But the States do challenge the unlawful and unnecessary new obligations and liabilities that the Memoranda and Final Rule attempt to impose — obligations that apparently stretch as far as ending sex-separated living facilities and athletics and mandating the use of biologically inaccurate preferred pronouns,” read the complaint. “Collectively, the Memoranda and Final Rule inappropriately expand the law far beyond what statutory text, regulatory requirements, judicial precedent, and the U.S. Constitution permit.”
Brnovich’s decision to join the coalition lawsuit wasn’t the only action Arizona officials took in response to the USDA guidelines. Earlier this month, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) introduced legislation to nullify the gender ideology compliance requirement.
On Wednesday, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) introduced a bill to prohibit the Biden administration from denying schools federal funds for meal programs if they don’t adhere to the government’s gender ideology.
The legislation, “Protecting Kids, Protecting Lunches Act,” would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from imposing gender ideology adherence in order for schools to receive the funds that feed underprivileged students. The Biden administration mentioned open bathrooms and sports teams as part of their gender ideology.
Lesko asserted in a press release that schools shouldn’t have to decide between feeding their students and safe bathrooms.
“I am deeply concerned that the Department of Agriculture could weaponize funding for children in need to advance the gender ideology of the radical Left,” said Lesko. “We have already seen proof that biological boys in girls’ school bathrooms threaten girls’ safety. I am proud to introduce this legislation to ensure that the Department of Agriculture cannot withhold funding for school meals because these schools refuse to allow boys in girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, sports, or showers.”
Although Lesko didn’t cite any specific incidents, she may have been referring to the Daily Wirereport last year of a teenage girl’s sexual assault in a school bathroom by a skirt-wearing boy — which the school allegedly covered up. That report sent shockwaves worldwide, challenging the push to allow gender dysphoric individuals to use whatever bathrooms or locker rooms they desired.
As AZ Free News reported last month, the USDA announced in May that its anti-discrimination policy protections extended to sexual orientation and gender identity. The USDA warned that failure to comply with this updated policy would result in the loss of its Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) funding. The FNS ensures children in need have access to free or reduced lunches, which about half of Arizona’s children rely on.
In support of Lesko’s bill were the Family Research Council and the Independent Women’s Forum.
Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) signed onto Lesko’s bill. They were joined by Congressmen Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01) and Ralph Norman (R-SC-05).
Last Friday, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) joined a letter asking Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky what legal authority her agency had to purchase Americans’ location data.
The CDC reportedly shelled out $420,000 for one year of phone data from at least 20 million Americans’ phones. The CDC’s transaction and its purposes were exposed through documents obtained by VICE through open records requests.
The CDC documents outlined plans to use the data to not only track COVID-19 curfew and quarantine compliance but visits to places of worship, K-12 schools, pharmacies, neighbors, parks, gyms, weight management companies, grocery stores; as well as the movements of Navajo Nation peoples, K-12 bus route users, and college students, to name a few. According to the documents, the CDC purchased the geotracking data from the controversial data broker SafeGraph. In doing so, the CDC relied on the same type of data currently being scrutinized for its use to track potential ballot harvesters, or “mules,” as highlighted in the controversial documentary “2000 Mules.”
Lesko joined 18 other legislators led by Congressman Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) to demand answers from the CDC. They expressed concern over the legality of the CDC surveilling Americans, citing a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that determined that mobile location information fell within a reasonable expectation of privacy.
“This violates the rights of Americans!” tweeted Lesko.
The congressman asked the CDC to explain what legal authority they had to acquire location data (especially concerning places of worship and its relation to the First Amendment), whether they obtained legal advice in order to do so, and whether they informed Congress of their intent to do so; if they’d requested Congress within the last five years to enact legislation specifically authorizing the purchase or acquisition of location data; what specific appropriation line item funded the purchase of the location data, and if they conducted an internal review to ascertain the compliance of their purchase; what form they purchased the data and if it included any personally identifiable information or it was in an aggregate, anonymous form; whether the data had been deleted or was being repurposed for other uses; what conclusions, analyses, or other methods were the results of their data acquisition; whether this was the only instance of them purchasing location data; who decided to purchase the data; and who has access to the data.
This wasn’t the first time that the CDC relied on SafeGraph. Throughout the 2020, they relied on SafeGraph information to conduct their reports on Americans’ compliance with stay-at-home orders. According to the documents obtained by Vice, the CDC continued relying on SafeGraph’s public data until the company no longer provided their data for free last March.