If Hillary Clinton were President today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would impose a global “reproductive health” and “LGBT” mandate on all organizations receiving USAID grants. Organizations with religious or conscientious objections to these policies would be unceremoniously discriminated against.
Regretfully, this isn’t speculation. This mandate already exists. It was put in place at USAID by the Obama administration, and Congressional Democrats are stealthily attempting to make Obama’s feminist bureaucracy a permanent statutory requirement for USAID through the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act, also known as the WEEE Act (Senate bill No. 3247). And the only ones who can stop this bill, which has somehow gained bipartisan support, are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House.
The WEEE Act passed the House this summer without a vote. It passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, with Ivanka Trump as its strongest backer. Thankfully, several senators have placed holds on it, effectively placing the bill in McConnell’s hands.
The bill is ostensibly about giving women greater economic opportunities. But a section in the bill on gender would permanently give USAID bureaucrats the power to impose any kind of condition on USAID partners based on two bureaucratic mandates Obama adopted known as “gender analysis” and “gender integration.”
These bureaucratic implements adopted under Obama’s presidency gave USAID “gender specialists” in every USAID bureau and office around the world the power to impose any kind of condition on USAID partners, including reproductive health and LGBT mandates, based on a broadly defined notion of gender. And it is precisely these conditions, as defined in Obama’s own gender policies, that the WEEE Act would make permanent legal requirements at USAID. The language of the Act is lifted word for word from Obama’s gender policies.
The gender section of the WEEE Act would shore up Obama’s transformation of USAID into a social engineering enterprise to promote radical feminism, gender ideology, and LGBT “rights.” Under Obama, millions of dollars were poured into organizations to promote LGBT ideology, contraception, indecent sexual education, and even abortion — in violation of U.S. Congressional restrictions. Faith-based organizations, many of them pro-life and pro-family, were simply cut off from U.S. taxpayer dollars.
As presently drafted, the WEEE Act would permanently invest USAID in what Pope Francis calls “ideological colonialism.” Under the pretense of a law about helping women, it would focus USAID policy on population control and LGBT activism. This is highly inconsistent with Trump and GOP’s promises to protect religious freedom and to respect the sovereignty of other nations.
The whole WEEE Act process reeks of the swamp. The White House has urged Senators to support the bill, saying that the administration will take care of the details. USAID personnel have made blanket assurances to Senate staff that they will not discriminate against religious groups. But Senators have not been provided with samples of gender analysis, and these assurances are only good as long as a Republican is in the White House.
And the WEEE Act’s sweeping handover of power to USAID through onerous and costly bureaucratic implements is also inconsistent with Trump administration’s push to remove regulations elsewhere. Once USAID is permanently given the power of the WEEE Act’s gender mandate, there will be no effective way to demand political accountability from the agency. Bureaucracies tend to take on a life of their own, and Obama’s gender bureaucracy has already had a life of its own for nearly a decade. The WEEE Act would merely ensure the Trump administration and subsequent Republican administrations couldn’t effectively change it in any significant way.
The WEEE Act has been sold to Republicans as a political necessity. But the only real necessity for Republicans should be stop this bill unless the entire section on gender is stripped from it. Alternatively, and perhaps even better, the bill should be amended to include a non-discrimination provision for faith-based organizations and a definition of gender limited only to men and women, as the administration has done for the military. Without these changes, McConnel should not let this bill go anywhere.