The Family Research Council’s latest congressional scorecard isn’t very pro-family | John L. Micek

March 13, 2019 11:57 am

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, picks up the ‘True Blue’ award from the Family Research Council for his support for the conservative PAC’s issues (Office of U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, photo)

The conservative Family Research Council is out with its latest congressional scorecard. And shocking no one, it’s yet another reminder that, when it comes to promoting families, its overwhelming interest extends little further than a woman’s womb.

Four out of the five grades awarded by the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group on its House scorecard for the last session of Congress deal either with attempts to restrict abortion rights or efforts to promote the interests of “unborn children.”

The other deals with a push to strip Washington D.C. residents of their healthcare, leaving the “family” in “Family Research Council” ringing more than a little hollow.

The Senate scorecard deals with the same issues, and ladles on grades for lawmakers’ support for Trump White House cabinet and judicial nominees.

A bit of background: The Family Research Council is a major player in conservative circles.

Wielding an outsized influence compared to its spending, the group recently asked its members to pray against any effort to impeach President Donald Trump. It’s been tagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its efforts to “[defame] gays and lesbians. It has forcefully pushed back against that label.

A good grade from the Christian and evangelical council is a badge of honor for conservatives. Witness the giddy press release blasted out by the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, bragging about his perfect score. The statement from Kelly’s office also touted the “True Blue” award the Mercer County lawmaker received for his support for the council’s issues.

A bit more about the 2018 report card.

Among other things, lawmakers were graded on their support for the controversial “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which penalizes health care providers who don’t provide medical care to babies who are born alive after an attempted abortion.

By the way, it’s already illegal to kill an infant.

The bill’s supporters have incorrectly  — and horrifyingly — cast opponents as supporting infanticide, committing an extreme injustice against, and ridiculously oversimplifying, a hugely complicated, sensitive, and deeply personal issue.

Now the grades:

With the exception of U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, the Republican members of Pennsylvania’s House delegation all received 100 percent marks on the council’s scorecard.

The grades the Family Research Council awarded to the Pa. House delegation on its new legislative scorecard (Screen Capture)

Fitzpatrick, a moderate who represents the Bucks County-based 1st District, received an 80 percent mark. The majority of the Democratic members of the Keystone State’s Capitol Hill delegation all received “zero” marks – the exceptions were U.S. Reps. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, who received a 33 percent grade and Matt Cartwright, D-8th District, who nabbed a 20 percent rating.

The council also rewarded House and Senate lawmakers who courageously supported an attempt kill Washington, D.C.’s version of the Affordable Care Act. Because what could be more pro-family than denying people healthcare, right? Fortunately, the preposterous action committed by the Republican-controlled House was blocked by the Senate last year. 

In the Senate, lawmakers won laurels for voting to confirm conservative federal judges, Trump cabinet appointees, and, of course, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. They were also rewarded for voting in favor, naturally, of measures to restrict abortion rights.

The Family Research Council also graded senators on their support for defunding Planned Parenthood, which provides critical reproductive and women’s health services to mostly low-income and minority women who would not be able to afford them otherwise. That has less to do with promoting families and more with trying to drive a stake through a group that’s the bete noire of the right.

It will not surprise you to learn that U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., netted a perfect 100 percent from the Council. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., got a 13 percent rating for backing a 20-week abortion ban. Casey opposes abortion, but has supported bills aimed at helping women and children before and after birth.

And that’s what so markedly absent from the Family Research Council’s report card — any interest at all in helping women, children, and families after a child is born.

Efforts to increase the federal minimum wage to as much as $15 an hour? You won’t find that on the report card. Medicare for all? Or even efforts to rein in healthcare costs and expand coverage? That’s nowhere to be found on the report card either.

How about college affordability? Nary a word. School safety? Universal background checks? How about bans on assault weapons, expanded magazines, bump stocks, or any of the other machinery of mass murder that are regularly employed to mow down children and adults?

You won’t find that on the scorecard either.

Of course, the group can only grade the Republican-controlled Congress of 2018 on the bills it brought to a vote. And the Congressional GOP’s abject failure to address any of those issues while it had a lock on the White House and both chambers of the U.S. Capitol is an inexcusable mark of shame.

Yes, it’s true that conservatives support less expensive healthcare, safer schools, and affordable higher education with as much ardor as those on the left — they just disagree on the best way to go about that.

But the Family Research Council’s report card is much more than a grading document. It’s also a statement of principles that shouts: “These are the issues that we consider important. ”

And most of them begin and end at efforts to control a woman’s womb. After that, they’re apparently on their own.

There’s nothing pro-family about that at all.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.