I believe my values are shared with most Mississippians. As a Southern Baptist, I am a strong supporter of Christian family values. I do not support gay marriage and believe in the traditional definition of marriage.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced legislation to cut through the federal government’s existing bureaucratic red tape and expand adoption options for Mississippians.
“We should be making it easier for adoptive parents to welcome children into their homes. Unfortunately, bureaucratic red tape makes the process difficult for adoption agencies and minimizes opportunities for Mississippians to pursue,” Senator Wicker said. “The one-size-fits-all accreditation standard doesn’t work. Agencies can navigate different paths to reach the same outcome. Our bill reverses course, is pro-family, and puts more children in loving homes.”
“Local adoption agencies help children around the world find the loving homes they deserve. But too often, families struggle to find accredited adoption service providers to assist them through the process,” Senator Klobuchar said. “By creating a new pathway for providers that offer critical services like background and home studies, our bipartisan legislation ensures that families have trusted local agencies to help them navigate the adoption process and give children safe, stable homes.”
Current federal government regulations require any organization wishing to provide international adoption services to be accredited under a single standard. This forces adoption agencies to jump through additional, unnecessary accreditations to keep their doors open.
The “Voluntary Limited Accreditation for Adoption Services Act” would provide adoption agencies the flexibility and multiple avenues they can pursue to receive the necessary accreditation.
Senators Wicker and Klobuchar’s bill would modify the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 to allow for a voluntary limited accreditation for adoption agencies for the following services:
- Performing a background study on a child in an outgoing case and reporting on such a study.
- Performing a home study on the prospective adoptive parent(s) in an incoming case and reporting on such a study.
- Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption, including preparing post-placement reports.
The full text of the legislation can be found here.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., joined Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and U.S. Representative August Pfluger, R-Texas, in filing an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Supreme Court considering initial “approval irregularities” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its 2000 approval of chemical abortion drugs.
Seventeen U.S. Senators and 92 members of the House of Representatives signed the amicus brief, including U.S. Representatives Trent Kelly, R-Miss., Michael Guest, R-Miss., and Mike Ezell, R-Miss.
Americans United for Life authored the brief in support of the Conditional Cross Petition filed by Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. The cross petition asks the Supreme Court to consider the FDA’s 2000 drug approval should the court decide to hear challenges to a Fifth Circuit Court stay of the FDA’s 2016 and 2021 actions to broaden access to chemical abortion drugs.
“As pro-life elected representatives, Amici are committed to protecting women and girls from the harms of the abortion industry. By approving and then deregulating chemical abortion drugs, the FDA failed to follow Congress’ statutorily prescribed drug approval process and subverted Congress’ critical public policy interests in upholding patient welfare,” the brief stated.
“Amici support the Fifth Circuit’s reinstatement of common-sense patient safeguards, which include in-person dispensing of mifepristone as well as an in-person follow-up examination to ensure a woman has not suffered complications or retained fetal tissue. Accordingly, Amici support Cross-Petitioners’ opposition to the FDA and Danco’s petitions for a writ of certiorari, which have asked this Court to reconsider patient safeguards that protect women and girls seeking chemical abortion drugs,” the brief continued.
The lawmakers’ brief makes these arguments:
- The FDA exceeded its Subpart H authority by approving mifepristone.
- The FDA misclassified pregnancy as a “life-threatening illness.”
- Chemical abortions do not provide a “meaningful therapeutic benefit” over surgical abortions.
- The FDA’s approval of mifepristone subverted patient health and safety safeguards within federal laws.
- The FDA’s failure to adhere to the FDCA’s drug approval process has created grave health and safety risks to women and girls.
- The FDA endangers pregnant adolescents seeking chemical abortion drugs by subverting the pediatric study requirement.
Organizations supporting the amicus brief include Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, March for Life, Students for Life of America, National Right to Life, Live Action, Catholic Vote.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., are among 27 senators demanding that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) rescind its policy of paying the travel expenses of those servicemembers and dependents seeking abortions, including late-term abortions.
The Mississippi lawmakers signed a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that outlines how the policy exceeds any authority granted to DoD by Congress. The letter, initiated by U.S. Senator Ted Budd, R-N.C., called on Austin to, “Do the right thing. Rescind the Policy now.”
“Congress never authorized the Department to expend funds to facilitate abortions and, until the Policy was issued, the military never facilitated abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother would be endangered if the unborn child were carried to term. Now taxpayers—many of whom have deeply-held religious and moral objections to abortions—are on the hook to facilitate the very abortions they fundamentally oppose,” the senators wrote.
“Rather than respect the Supreme Court’s decision, you decided to engage the Department, and our men and women in uniform, in a policy debate properly reserved for the legislature. You did so by claiming that Dobbs had ‘readiness, recruiting, and retention implications for the Force.’ By your own officials’ admissions, however, the Department has no data to support that claim, and few servicemembers or dependents have utilized the Policy,” the letter continued.
In addition to Wicker and Hyde-Smith, the Budd letter was signed by U.S. Senators Mike Lee, R-Utah, Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Mike Rounds, R-N.D., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Rand Paul, R-Ky., Pete Ricketts, R-Neb., Katie Britt, R-Ala., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rick Scott, R-Fla., Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Eric Schmitt, R-Mo., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, John Cornyn, R-Texas, John Boozman, R-Ark., John Thune, R-S.D., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.
Read the signed letter here and below.
You have broken your promise to the American people not to politicize the military, and your actions have harmed and threaten to further harm institutional norms within our democracy. On June 28, 2022, four days after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, you issued a memorandum to senior leaders in the Department of Defense (“Department”) stating that the Department is authorized to pay for government funded, official travel for active duty personnel to receive abortions outside of the state in which they are stationed.
On October 20, 2022, you issued the memorandum Travel for Non-Covered Reproductive Health Care Services, properly referred to as the Department’s abortion travel policy (“Policy”), which directed the Department to pay travel expenses not only for active duty personnel to receive abortions, but for their dependents to receive abortions as well. Importantly, on July 19, 2023, at a hearing on the Department’s abortion travel policy, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness confirmed that this policy extends to late term abortions.
All legislative power is vested in Congress, and the Executive branch is responsible for implementing and enforcing the law. While the Department may issue regulations, it can only do so under the laws authorized and enacted by Congress. But, Congress never authorized the Department to expend funds to facilitate abortions and, until the Policy was issued, the military never facilitated abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother would be endangered if the unborn child were carried to term. Now taxpayers—many of whom have deeply-held religious and moral objections to abortions—are on the hook to facilitate the very abortions they fundamentally oppose. Indeed, a Marist poll in January 2023 found that 60% of Americans strongly oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for an abortion, consistent with polls taken throughout recent years.
Rather than respect the Supreme Court’s decision, you decided to engage the Department, and our men and women in uniform, in a policy debate properly reserved for the legislature. You did so by claiming that Dobbs had “readiness, recruiting, and retention implications for the Force.” By your own officials’ admissions, however, the Department has no data to support that claim, and few servicemembers or dependents have utilized the Policy.
After multiple inquiries from Congress on this question, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness finally confirmed that “The Department does not have any data on women being deterred from joining the military for fear of being stationed at an installation or base in a state or nation that has restrictive abortion laws.” Finally, a recent letter from the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee revealed that only 12 women have taken advantage of the Policy since its inception, which undercuts your argument that Dobbs has significant recruiting and retention implications.
Our men and women in uniform deserve Senate-confirmed leadership but the current situation began with your original sin of promulgating the Policy. Much has been made in the press about one Senator’s decision to try and stop your egregious wrongs, without acknowledging the Senate Majority Leader’s refusal to bring general and flag officer nominations to the floor until forced to by Republicans. Seeking to circumvent the Senate prerogative of the informal “hold” practice without addressing the underlying causes—the novel Policy and the subsequent refusal of the Majority to bring these nominees to the floor—will not ultimately reconcile this matter. It could create a toxic precedent with lasting negative effects on future military nominations.
Your decision to issue the Policy politicized the military and placed the wants of a few over the needs of the entire nation.
Do the right thing. Rescind the Policy now.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has called on the Secretary of Defense to support claims made by the Department of Defense regarding their policy of using taxpayer money to fund travel for service members who want to have abortions.
Recent unconfirmed reports have suggested that only 12 service members have used the authorities provided by the new abortion policy, despite earlier claims from the Department that reversing the rule would have “significant implications” across the services.
“To date, we have yet to receive any substantive data to support these assertions,” Wicker wrote. “I now ask again for the specific data considered by the Department of Defense.”
Wicker urged the secretary to end the policy and shift his focus back to deterrence within the military.
“The United States is at a pivotal moment for national defense, and there is no time for distractions. When the Department of Defense becomes sidetracked by divisive political sideshows, the missions of deterrence and readiness are the first to suffer,” Wicker wrote. “The Department of Defense’s focus should always be our national defense, not on circumventing Federal law to facilitate abortions. I ask you to rescind these policies immediately.”
Read the whole letter here or below. Read more about Wicker’s efforts to keep the military focused on deterrence here. Read previous correspondence with the Department of Defense on their dubious readiness claims related to abortion here and here.
Honorable Lloyd J. Austin III
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Austin:
I request information on the use of the abortion policies concerning reimbursed travel and authorized absence that your department implemented in February 2023. I received information that the total number of women who have been granted administrative absence and reimbursed travel pursuant to this policy is approximately 12. Can you please confirm whether this information is correct? If not, please provide me the number of women who have been granted administrative absence and reimbursed travel pursuant to the policy.
Additionally, I request information on the potential use of this policy to facilitate late-term abortions. Through a plain reading of the policy, it appears that an eligible woman in the eighth month of her pregnancy could travel at the expense of the Department of Defense from a state such as Mississippi and obtain an abortion in a state such as Oregon where abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy. Is this interpretation correct? If not, please clarify how I have misinterpreted the policy.
Finally, in our letters dated July 17, 2022, November 21, 2022, and March 1, 2023, my Republican colleagues and I asked you for evidence to support the Department of Defense’s claim in a June 28, 2022, memorandum that the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization would have “significant implications” for the “readiness of the Force.” To date, we have yet to receive any substantive data to support these assertions. I now ask again for the specific data considered by the Department of Defense in arriving at the above claim.
As I have previously stated, the United States is at a pivotal moment for national defense, and there is no time for distractions. When the Department of Defense becomes sidetracked by divisive political sideshows, the missions of deterrence and readiness are the first to suffer.?The Department of Defense’s focus should always be our national defense, not on circumventing Federal law to facilitate abortions. I ask you to rescind these policies immediately.
In a series of rulings last month, the Supreme Court strengthened Constitutional protections on important American values, including religious liberty, the rule of law, and equality. These decisions reinforced important principles like separation of powers, personal responsibility, and individual conscience. They reversed disturbing left-leaning trends and restored key components of our Founders’ vision.
Strengthening Freedom of Speech and Religion
In one of the most-watched cases of the term, the Court decided that business owners could not be forced to create messages that violate their religious beliefs. Six of the nine justices sided with the owner of 303 Creative, a designer who could not in good faith build a website for a same-sex wedding. The Court got it right on religious liberty and freedom of speech. As Justice Gorsuch wrote for the majority, “The First Amendment prohibits [the government] from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs speaking messages with which the designer disagrees.” In other words: All Americans should be free to pursue their careers without sacrificing conscience.
Blocking Biden’s Overreach
A second case dealt with President Biden’s unfair and expensive student loan forgiveness scheme. The Court recognized that the plan, which would have cost the taxpayers over $400 billon, had no legal footing.
If the president had prevailed, he would have transferred the financial burden from student loan borrowers, who willingly took out loans, to the general public, including many lower-paid workers who never had the opportunity to attend college. The Court rightly ruled that President Biden simply did not have the authority to do this. Our Constitution gives Congress, not the Executive, the power of the purse. The separation of powers is a central principle in our republic, and I am relieved to see it reinforced. The result also promotes personal responsibility by holding people to their obligations.
Merit, Not Race, Matters Most
Perhaps the most divisive case of the term dealt with the use of affirmative action in college admissions. In a 6-3 decision, the Court barred colleges from using race in their evaluation of student applications. Chief Justice Roberts authored the majority’s opinion, saying every “student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual—not on the basis of race.” The Court thus moved us closer to a colorblind society that prioritizes individual achievement, not ethnic group membership.
Continuing the Work
These cases signal three steps in the right direction for the Court. They follow last year’s major decisions on religious liberty and the sanctity of life. Such safeguards are essential, especially as liberal activists continue their attack on American values.
During the term, I signed legal briefs on behalf of the website designer and against President Biden’s executive overreach. Now that those issues have been decided, conservatives should seize the opportunities the Court is making possible. In my work as the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am advancing legislation like the Merit Act. That bill would require Pentagon leadership to focus on the skills – not the race – of those seeking military promotions. In this and other legislation, Republicans should continue building on victories achieved at the Supreme Court.
Religious freedom is a hallmark of our American way of life. Since our nation’s founding, we have been a safe haven for persecuted believers from all over the globe, inspiring other nations to follow our lead. As a U.S. Senator, I have fought to advance religious freedom at home and abroad, including for Christians who fled Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover in 2021. In the coming days, I will co-chair the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington to raise awareness of the challenges confronting faith communities worldwide. Unfortunately, religious freedom is also coming under attack here in America as left-wing government officials seek to impose their will on people of conscience.
Biden Continues Obama’s War on Religious Freedom
In 2011, President Obama declared war on religious freedom when his Administration tried to force religious schools, businesses, and even Catholic nuns to pay for abortion-inducing drugs in their health insurance plans. Subsequent judicial rulings made clear that the Administration had overreached. Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned business, sued the Obama Administration and eventually prevailed at the Supreme Court. Religious freedom later found a strong ally in the Trump Administration, but President Biden is now picking up where Mr. Obama left off, attempting to steamroll those who do not share his values.
During Mr. Biden’s first months in office, his Administration created a radical new policy on par with the Obama mandate. This policy required religious doctors and nurses to violate their consciences and medical judgment to perform life-altering “gender reassignment” surgeries on children – something that millions of Americans find appalling. Thankfully, the Administration was stopped when two federal courts blocked the policy. Yet there is no sign the President will let up in his attacks on people who wish to live out their faith freely.
Religious Freedom Threatened in Liberal States
Unfortunately, some states are showing just as much disregard for religious freedom as the President. In Ohio and Virginia, Christian teachers have been fired for refusing to use transgender pronouns in class. In Washington State, a florist was fined and forced to pay damages to a same-sex couple because she declined to provide flowers for their wedding, which she could not in good conscience support. Similarly, in Colorado, a Christian cake shop owner named Jack Phillips was sued multiple times by the state for declining to make custom cakes celebrating a same-sex wedding and a “gender transition.” He ultimately prevailed twice in court – once at the Supreme Court – but he is now being targeted a third time by state officials. Mr. Phillips summed it up well: “Colorado just seemed to be looking for opportunities to punish me for my faith.”
We should all take these threats to religious freedom seriously, and I have actively sought to use my influence as a U.S. Senator to defend this basic liberty. During the pandemic, I authored an amicus brief in federal court supporting the right of a Baptist church in Washington, D.C., to gather in person – and the church ultimately prevailed. I also recently signed an amicus brief supporting Lorie Smith, a Colorado web designer who recently went to the Supreme Court to defend her right to make websites only for weddings she can endorse. In addition, I pushed vigorously for a religious freedom amendment to a recent marriage bill in Congress. And I have voted to confirm hundreds of conservative judges in the Senate who are now on the front lines protecting our constitutional rights. I will always stand with those who defend one of our most sacred traditions and keep the right to religious freedom unimpeded.
Eden was born into a dire situation. Like so many unwanted young girls in India, she was abandoned as an infant and left for dead. By the grace of God, she was rescued and taken to a local hospital for life-saving care. That same month, Robby and Jess Followell, a young couple in Clinton, Mississippi, felt led to pray for a young orphan in India who might one day become their daughter.
As it turned out, the child they had been praying for came to their attention through an adoption firm called Children of the World. They learned that Eden had suffered a rare condition in the womb that left her hands and feet malformed. Although doctors said she might never be able to walk, the Followells were not deterred. Moved by compassion, they completed a home study with New Beginnings, an adoption firm in Tupelo, and traveled to India to adopt Eden as their own. Once in America, Eden received surgery, leg braces, and physical therapy – and she defied the odds. She learned not only to walk, but also to run and to climb. And she received a constant playmate and companion in her older sister, Meg.
Today, Eden is nine years old and thriving. She is one of more than 150,000 children adopted from overseas who today are growing up in American homes. Unfortunately, her story is increasingly rare.
Red Tape Makes Adoption More Difficult
In recent years, red tape in Washington has made it harder for adoption providers like New Beginnings to stay open. Many providers specialize in one or two parts of the adoption process, such as vetting and advising parents. Yet since 2008, the State Department has required all intercountry adoption providers to pursue an expensive accreditation that goes far beyond the scope of their work. This costly requirement has forced many providers to close their doors. Between 2008 and 2021, the number of agencies involved in intercountry adoption fell by nearly two-thirds, from 300 to 108. This decline has resulted in higher prices, making adoption simply unaffordable for many who are eager to welcome a child.
All of this has led to fewer orphans finding a loving home. In 2004, Americans adopted 23,000 children from foreign countries. By last year, that number had shrunk to fewer than 2,000. This is a shame given that there are some 153 million orphans around the world and thousands of Americans seeking to adopt. Government should be making it easier, not harder, to welcome a child. In 2020, Congress unanimously passed my legislation providing prospective parents with better information to pursue overseas adoption. I am now pushing legislation to help save adoption agencies from the crushing regulatory burden they continue to face.
Helping Adoption Agencies Survive
This past week, I introduced S.5101 to help save our nation’s adoption providers. The bill would allow agencies to be accredited in their own areas of expertise without having to be certified in other areas. This would lead to lower costs, allowing more agencies to stay open. Ryan Hanlon, who leads the National Council for Adoption, recently said that without this legislation we will continue to lose adoption providers nationwide, resulting in fewer orphans being able to find a home.
Americans are a compassionate people who have a heart for orphans. Like Eden Followell, countless former orphans are today experiencing love, support, and opportunity because of the miracle of adoption. I am committed to ensuring future generations of Americans can show the same compassion toward children in need, both at home and abroad.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today voted to oppose legislation that would codify same-sex marriage, citing his concerns that the legislation would erode the First Amendment rights of Americans who have sincerely-held religious beliefs.
“I have always believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and I have grave concerns this legislation does not sufficiently protect the First Amendment rights of Americans who have a sincere religious objection to same-sex marriage. For these reasons, I cannot in good conscience vote to support this legislation.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Amy Klobuchar D-Minn., today introduced a bill to help save adoption agencies serving American families. The legislation, titled the “Voluntary Specialized Accreditation for Background Studies and Home Studies Act,” would help to remove barriers to intercountry adoption by increasing flexibility for adoption service providers and providing a new track for accreditation for agencies providing specialized services.
“There are countless children around the world with no parents or family to care for them, yet Americans who want to adopt these children are finding fewer adoption agencies available to help,” Wicker said. “This bipartisan bill would lower barriers for intercountry adoption, making it easier to welcome children into loving families.”
“Local adoption agencies help children around the world find the loving homes they deserve. But too often, families struggle to find accredited adoption service providers to assist them during the adoption process,” said Klobuchar. “By creating a specialized accreditation for small and medium-size providers that offer background and home studies, our bipartisan legislation ensures that families have trusted local agencies to help them navigate the adoption process and give children safe, stable homes.”
Current regulations require any organization wishing to provide adoption services to be accredited under a single standard. This rule means that specialized agencies that provide only a limited range of services have to pursue a costly accreditation that goes far beyond the scope of their work.
This bill would enable agencies that only offer “home studies” or “background studies” to be accredited in their area of expertise without having to be certified in other areas. This would allow specialized adoption agencies to continue operating and would lower the cost and time needed to stay accredited.
Adoption advocates also praised the bill.
“Without this legislation, we’d lose even more accredited agencies, resulting in fewer American families being served by accredited providers who have met the training and oversight requirements for intercountry adoption,” said Ryan Hanlon, President and CEO of National Council For Adoption. “When this legislation passes, it also means that accredited agencies who are only providing limited services do not need to participate in practices that are not applicable to their agency.”
“This legislation means agencies can stay accredited to serve those in the states where they’re licensed, even without an intercountry placement program,” said Tom Velie, President of New Beginnings Adoption & Family Services. “More families will have accredited providers to provide training and support, and more agencies will remain accredited.”
In 2020, Wicker and Klobuchar introduced the Intercountry Adoption Information Act, which proposed major updates in how the federal government procures data on global adoption trends to ease access for American families. The bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate and became law.
See the full text of the legislation here.
VICKSBURG, Miss. – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., yesterday visited the Vicksburg Warren School District’s Academy of Innovation where students presented him with individually-made ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree in his Washington, D.C., office. This is the fourth time that Wicker has invited a Mississippi school to create ornaments for his Washington office.
“I am looking forward to showcasing the work of these talented students from Vicksburg and Warren County,” Wicker said. “Their creations display the important skills and techniques they have learned and help tell the story of Mississippi’s rich history and culture.”
The 7th and 8th grade students combined art, digital media, and technology to create ornaments based on the theme “Illuminated Innovation, A Chronicle of Culture and Creativity in Mississippi.” Each ornament depicts a Mississippian who made a valuable contribution to society, including artists, athletes, writers, innovators, and musicians.
Wicker credits his wife, Gayle, with the idea for the Christmas celebration. The project began as a way to affirm the importance of creative and visual arts in education.