Governor Bob McDonnell

Responding Where The Left Goes Unchallenged

One of the great challenges of The Family Foundation is to be a voice of reason in a world where the media carries the message of the left without any challenge to its lack of logic. Within the past few days, I've encountered a number of these opportunities.

In an interview with a clearly biased reporter, which she indicated would be about abortion center safety standards, I was asked to respond to the 18 percent drop in the abortion rate over the last five years. Without more specific information, I respond that many common sense abortion laws had been passed in addition to the great work done in the area of foster care and adoption. But this response doesn't match the reporter’s narrative. The official narrative, her narrative, was that any drop in abortion must relate to contraception.

Basic knowledge of biology says that only a drop in the pregnancy rate, not the abortion rate, can be directly attributed to contraception. For simplicity sake, consider this example: Let's say 1,000 women got pregnant in 2007 and 25 women chose abortion, but in 2011, 1,000 women got pregnant and only 20 women chose abortion. In this example, the number of conceptions has not changed (still 1,000) and thus tying the decrease in abortion (25 to 20) to contraception is illogical. Rather, it means that five women made alternate choices from abortion regarding their pregnancies.

With this in mind, I found it interesting when the reporter next began to challenge me on contraception but never told me anything about the pregnancy rate or even the "unintended" pregnancy rate during the five year period.

What is known is that even the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the abortion industry, acknowledges:

In six [countries] — Cuba, Denmark, Netherlands, the United States, Singapore and the Republic of Korea — levels of abortion and contraceptive use rose simultaneously.

To get a more accurate picture of what is actually happening in Virginia, one would need the birth rate, abortion rate and the number of children given up for adoption over time. Without that, both sides of this debate can guess at a reporter's questions and the reporter can angle her story in whatever direction she chooses.

A second opportunity to be a voice of reason took place when I was asked to respond to a Washington Post poll of Virginia voters and their views on various social issues. Prior to the interview, I requested to see the poll. The response from the reporter was "I'm afraid we don't normally share the poll." Seriously? I'm supposed to listen to the reporter's summation of the results and draw conclusions based on her conclusions? Yes, that's their hope because the assumption is that like dumb sheep, the right can be led into a ditch. The reporter was obviously dismayed that I challenged nearly all of the poll's assumptions.

As an example of the problem opining without data causes, the reporter asked me if the Republican Party ought to change its position to attract more voters as a result of the alleged shift on same-sex marriage. This question required me to presume the rest of her poll that I had not seen. I mentioned that if this poll matched any other poll on this matter, then the reporter would know that minorities support traditional marriage. She seemed surprised that I would draw this distinction but fully acknowledged that my point was well taken, was supported by the details of the poll and that changing a position on same-sex marriage wasn't going to attract the minorities the Republican Party is desperate to reach. (Oh, and shockingly, no questions about the Kermit Gosnell trial or the nearly 300 health and safety violations in Virginia's abortion centers. Then again, why ask about what you refuse to report?)

This interview leads me to the final difficulty of trying to present reason in a world where narratives are predetermined. Two days ago, I received a call at home from Quinnipiac asking me to take a political survey. I readily agreed but discovered just what I feared. When asked my top issue for determining how I vote, I was given approximately 10 choices, none of which were values issues. Similarly, I was asked about the Star Scientific situation regarding both Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli but was never asked about Terry McAuliffe's false claims regarding green technology and jobs. Zero questions about the abysmal conditions found in Virginia's abortion centers. Even funnier, I was asked if I consider myself "Born Again," "Evangelical" or "None of the above." I'd love to meet someone who is "Evangelical" but not "Born Again." When the questions are this biased and misinformed, it's hard, if not impossible, for a polling company to get a clear sense of the electorate.

But then again, if the purpose of the poll is to reinforce a predetermined narrative, the pollsters, nor the media, are interested in the sense of the electorate. They are trying to steer the electorate. Which is one reason why, despite not knowing all the details, I do these interviews. If there isn't a voice of reason included in the story, the media wins without a fight.

Student Rights Bill Goes To Governor!

The Senate of Virginia yesterday passed a priority for The Family Foundation, legislation that protects the free association rights of students on public college campuses. HB 1617, patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock), ensures that religious and political organizations will not be discriminated against because of their beliefs and values. The bill passed 21-18 with several Democrats joining Republicans to pass the legislation. The bill already passed the House, so it is now on its way to Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature. Participating in groups and organizations with missions that match their religious or political beliefs is a longstanding tradition for college students. Unfortunately, in the name of "tolerance," a few universities in Virginia (and even more so around the country) have begun enacting the so-called "all-comers" policies, which prevent these groups from being able to set criteria for members and leaders. Under these policies, student groups recognized by the university, receiving funding from it or using campus facilities are prohibited from having any kind of requirement that members or leaders actually share the beliefs or believe in the mission of the group!

Opponents to the legislation claimed that the bill allows student groups to "discriminate" using "taxpayer funding" (never mind that many such clubs are funded by activity fees charged to the students in addition to their tuition). Such a position implies that simply choosing to freely associate with people of similar ideas and beliefs is inherently discriminatory. Free association is a foundational constitutional principle but, as we know, those kinds of freedoms are slowly being reduced. The win is so significant that even the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (a bipartisan group of Congressmen) took notice.

The companion Senate legislation, SB 1074, patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), should be heard in the House Education Committee tomorrow.

Breaking News: Governor McDonnell Releases Statement On Senate Democrats Blocking Budget For Third Time

Following Senate Democrats unprecedented partisan rejection of the Virginia state budget, again, Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement:

Today, Senate Democrats cast the most fiscally reckless vote I have witnessed in my 21 years in office. They have killed an $85 billion state budget that benefits all Virginians, for one earmark regarding an 11.4 mile rail project in one district of the Commonwealth. That is extremely irresponsible. Senate Democrats, again, put partisan politics ahead of the needs of 8 million Virginians. They brought their political agendas to the Senate floor, and in the process have put at risk a Bristol teacher’s paycheck, a Chesterfield sheriff’s salary, healthcare for a senior citizen in Hampton, road projects in Richmond, and the fiscal soundness of the entire Commonwealth. Unfortunately, this is not the first time they have done so.

When the General Assembly convened in January, Senate Democrats were clear that they wished to use the state budget as a means to gain more committee assignments. As one Senate Democrat wrote at the time, “the real reason the Senate Budget must lose — at this point — is so the power balance in Richmond can be adjusted.” For the 60 days of the regular session, they refused to pass any budget, despite multiple individual meetings, letters and conversations with them. They voted down two budgets.

Last month, Senate Democrats gave a few policy reasons to explain their obstruction. They were met with broad accommodation by Senate Republicans. They sought more funding for healthcare and education. They gained it. In fact they gained nearly $170 million in reallocated funding for the issues they identified as priorities for their caucus. Throughout budget negotiations, Republican legislators and this office worked strenuously to ensure that Senate Democrats were heard in the budget process. Only after these compromises were achieved did Senate Democrats turn, in the last days of session, to a third reason for opposing a budget: toll abatement on the Dulles Toll Road.

Since 2009, when Governor Tim Kaine signed the deal on the tolls and the rates were publicized, and no state funding was provided, Senate Democrats were silent. They offered no objections to the tolls for nearly three years. Then, at the very end of this session, after killing two budgets on the floor, Senate Democrats decided that they would make that their next issue. This will have serious consequences for all Virginians.

Budgets are a tapestry of compromises. No legislator ever gets everything he or she wants in a governing fiscal document. Nonetheless, all involved can get much of what they seek if there is cooperation and civility in the process. The budget killed by Senate Democrats today was a positive document. This budget made historic investments in our higher education system so more Virginia students can access and afford our great colleges and universities. It reduced unfunded liabilities in our retirement system by nearly $9 billion by 2031, an historic achievement that ensures our dedicated state employees will receive the retirements they have been counting on. The budget combined accountability and innovation with over half a billion dollars in new funding for our K-12 system. It improved public education in the Commonwealth. And this budget provided fiscal liquidity and stability for Virginia as we continue to navigate a very uncertain economy. Now, Senate Democrats, continuing a trend, have killed a budget for a third time. They will have to answer to every single Virginian. This vote will have real consequences in creating uncertainty and chaos for local governments, school boards and countless agencies and individuals.

I encourage all Virginians to contact the members of the Senate Democratic Caucus today to let them know that this vote is unacceptable. First, the members killed the state budget to make a point about committee assignments. Then, they demanded more funding for healthcare and education, which they received. Then, they brought up an entirely new reason for voting against the budget, an earmark for am 11.4 mile rail project in one area of the state. Teacher and sheriff salaries are now at risk. Local governments and school boards do not know what level of state funding they will receive. Road and other state projects will have to be stopped in every single region in the near future. All because Senate Democrats continue to obstruct the passage of the state budget. They even killed the ‘caboose’ budget for the remainder of FY 2012, which has absolutely nothing to do with the Dulles tolls. This is an incredibly disappointing development. This is the kind of conduct we’ve come to expect out of Democrats in the U.S. Senate, where no budget has passed for over 1000 days. It is not the conduct we would expect from Democrats who serve in Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol. Senate Democrats need to hear from all Virginians about the direct and immediate impact their partisan posturing will have on the citizens of this Commonwealth.

Breaking News: Senate Dems Shock Virginia Media And Political Establishment By Rejecting Budget AGAIN, But Not Us. We Told You It Would Be Like This!

Governor Bob McDonnell just released a long and justifiably angry statement confronting Senate Democrats on their third budget obstruction in about six weeks. It pretty much hits on every conceivable point regarding Senate Democrats' highly partisan and obstructionist tactics that still leave the commonwealth without a two-year spending plan. (See next post for the statement.) But I can't resist three resonant "We-told-you-so's" reported/predicted on this blog not read many places elsewhere. First, as we commented during session, Senate Democrats were never serious about crafting a budget. They preferred to grandstand about "social issues wasting time and not dealing with the real issues," even as those bills were debated and voted upon in the normal legislative calendar while they actually did waste time and effort by feigning approval as long as their budget amendments were agreed to.

Second, as the governor points out, despite their protestations otherwise, Senate Democrats are obsessed with committee power, despite their loss in last November's elections, exacerbated, perhaps, by the now-minority leader's bravado that they would gain seats while not rubbing it in too much on the GOP (sentiments made before he could even find anyone to run, aside from his incumbents and newbies in safe districts, and needing to talk one senator out of his retirement). But there is one committee in particular they care about, one whose lust to rule keeps them up at night — Education and Health. The minority leader admitted as much, as we broke here, and for one plain, simple, raw reason — to serve as the blocking back for its benefactors at Planned Parenthood and the Virginia Education Association, in order to prevent protections for life and needed education reforms.

Third, during the third week of March, the mainstream media, unwilling to dig into any subterranean rumblings, much less semi-overt controversies, precipitated by the Senate's minority leadership, gleefully reported that there was budget peace, naively reporting with glee a unanimous Senate Finance Committee vote to approve a Senate budget. We outlined why there was no "peace in the valley" and expressed shock that so many media types pushed the budget issue to the back pages as if a deal was a formality when there were any number of reasons Senate liberals were ready block a final version with the House, none of which were ever going to be resolved in their favor: ultrasound funding, higher taxes, committee assignments, transportation earmarks. Some gave incredible credence to the hope that Senator Charles Colgan, the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee and senior member of the Senate, would break ranks, somehow shocking the GOP majority we his vote fell through (see Washington Examiner). It's as if after two months of political neon sign flashing by the Senate's left, the media, pundits and even political pros, thought they'd taken a chill. But it's not only the weather that's been unseasonably warm this year.

Pick your metaphor here, but given the centennial hype over it, I'll say a budget deal then was about as secure as the Titanic making its way at night under a clueless captain. Tonight, at the Virginia General Assembly, the lifeboats are deployed.

Urge Support Of Abortion Center Safety Regulations

Late Friday afternoon, the Department of Health released its proposed regulations for Virginia's abortion centers. The regulations are now available for public review by clicking here (scroll to page 25). The Board of Health will vote on the proposed regulations at its meeting September 15.

It is imperative that you contact the Board of Health and urge them to pass the regulations!

While we understand that this is only the first step in a long process, we believe that the regulations presented to the Board of Health by medical experts at the Department of Health would sufficiently improve the health and safety of Virginia's abortion centers.

The proposed regulations would improve the health and safety standards by providing for regular and unannounced inspections of abortion centers. Until now, abortion centers operated outside the mainstream of the medical community with little or no state supervision. The regulations also require standards regarding medical personnel like requiring that the doctor stay on premises until a woman is actually ready to be discharged, improved sanitary conditions, and emergency equipment for cardiac arrest, seizure, respiratory distress and other critical medical situations. Abortion centers would also have to be built, or improved within two years, to meet medical standards appropriate for the procedure. If these regulations threaten Virginia's abortion centers, one has to wonder just how bad things have been. Abortion centers will also have to report deaths of patients resulting from abortion procedures.

Of course, the abortion industry has responded with hyperbole, misinformation and fear tactics (see Washington Post). Planned Parenthood and NARAL are urging pro-abortion Virginians to contact the Board of Health to vote against these reasonable, common sense measures. They are well motivated and unified in their opposition to any and all regulations. It is essential that the Board hear from pro-life Virginians!

It is important to remember that the abortion industry just this year rejected legislation that would have required only licensing, inspections and emergency equipment. It is clear from its rejection of that legislation and these common sense regulations that they oppose any and all efforts by the Commonwealth to ensure women's health and safety in their abortion centers. Their predictable and short sighted response reveals that they do not take the health of women in Virginia seriously.

Please contact the Board of Health and please forward this information to as many of your pro-life friends as possible! The Board of Health needs to hear from you. It is important that our e-mails to the board be reasoned and thoughtful. Let's leave the harsh rhetoric to the supporters of the abortion industry.

Anyone wishing to submit written comments for the public comment file may do so by mail, e-mail or fax to Joseph Hilbert, Director of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs, 109 Governor Street, Richmond, VA 23219, or 804-864-7022 (fax); or e-mail by clicking here. Written comments must include your name and address. In order to be considered, comments must be received by the last day of the public comment period, which is September 15.

Orwellian: Saving Babies Is An "Attack On Women's Health"

The pro-abortion forces in Virginia are nothing if not masters at hyperbole. That, or downright Orwellian. Today, they held a news conference at the General Assembly Building to reinforce their message of choice since their stunning defeat on the abortion center regulation bill: That limiting abortions, and thus saving the most innocent among us, is "an attack on women's health." Among attendees were a who's who of the General Assembly pro-abortion crowd: Senators Donald McEachin and Mary Margaret Whipple; and Delegates Patrick Hope, David Englin, Jennier McClellan, Scott Surovell, Adam Ebbin, Onzlee Ware, Vivian Watts and Charniele Herring — the so-called "Reproductive Health Caucus." They were joined not only by Planned Parenthood and NARAL, but by the ACLU and the League of Women's Voters, whose representative enthusiastically gave herself a shout-out when Delegate Herring failed to recognize her. What abortion "rights" has to do with registering women to vote is anyone's guess, but that moment was the most exciting thing at what had to be the most uneventful news conference in General Assembly history — nothing more than introductions, a statement by Delegate Herring, and a story by a woman whose situation was not relevant to the exchanges. Not even a question by one of the two or three members of the press who attended. Even the distributed prepared press statements were boring. Sorry, but no video, excerpted quotes, nor links worth citing. Even Planned Parenthood's e-mail alert left a lot to be desired. An indication that the tide is turning? We'll find out tomorrow when our electeds vote to sustain or reject two pro-life amendments passed down by Governor Bob McDonnell: One, to HB 2434, to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion in the new state health insurance exchanges mandated by the federal healthcare law; and another, a budget amendment, restoring abstinence education funding that former Governor Tim Kaine eliminated.

These votes promise to be very close in the Senate tomorrow during the "Veto Session." Please contact your senator Wednesday morning and ask him or her to vote for each.

Click here if you know your senator and need his or her phone number.

Click here if you don’t know who your senator is.

Meanwhile, here's more coverage on the health insurance exchange amendment, from the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot (here) and below, from WTVR-TV/CBS6 in Richmond. Both feature comments from Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb.

Support Governor McDonnell's Pro-Life Amendment To Health Exchange Bill

Last week, Governor Bob McDonnell added a pro-life amendment to an ObamaCare induced bill — Delegate Terry Kilgore's HB 2434, that directs the Commonwealth to set up health insurance exchanges in accordance with the new law. (Under ObamaCare, if states don't act to establish their own exchanges and rules, the federal government will do ti for them.) The governor's amendment would restrict the proposed and mandated health insurance exchanges from covering abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk. Without such change to the bill, pro-life citizens will be coerced into funding the unethical destruction of human life. His amendment also would prohibit insurance companies from selling optional riders that cover those same abortion services. Typically, NARAL went ballistic (see the Washington Post VIrginia Politics Blog, a Post news article and the Richmond Times-Dispatch; we're quoted in all three), although the amendment reflects decades-old federal policy under the Hyde Amendment. Now, the General Assembly must accept the governor's amendment at next Wednesday's veto session. During this year's General Assembly session, similar health insurance abortion funding opt-out language was passed by the House of Delegates twice with overwhelming majorities, but was defeated in the Senate. The Senate voted on a procedural motion, at the end of session, to strike a bill almost identical to Governor McDonnell’s language. It succeeded on a 22-18 party line vote. Since the governor's language strictly is a policy vote, not a procedural vote, we hope to urge at least two pro-life Democrats to support the amendment.

Of course, this is nothing new. Whether it is a widely-passed bipartisan House bill or a governor's amendment, the Senate remains the body that blocks nearly every pro-life effort, and has done so for several years. Over the last several days, The Family Foundation has mobilized citizens across Virginia to contact key senators so that they know Virginians want this amendment passed. It is clear that it will not be until the Senate reflects the values of Virginia that we will see many victories. The opportunity to make those changes is quickly approaching, as all 40 Senate seats are up for election in November.

We believe the key to sustaining the amendment lies with five key senators: Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian), Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell). Contact these senators now and urge them to vote yes on Governor McDonnell's abortion funding opt-out amendment for health insurance exchanges on HB 2434.

You can contact them by calling their district offices (numbers below) or by clicking on their names for their e-mail addresses:

Senator Quayle: 757-483-9173

Senator Watkins: 804-379-2063

Senator Reynolds: 276-638-2315

Senator Colgan: 703-368-0300

Senator Puckett: 276-979-8181

Governor McDonnell Gives Republican Response Today: Targets ObamaCare

Governor Bob McDonnell today gave the national Republican response to the weekly presidential radio/Internet address. After thanking our military personnel for its bravery in Libya and humanitarian assistance in Japan, as well as its ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, he went after Washington for its unsustainable spending and debt, and the increasing costs of Medicaid, which is rapidly accounting for as much as a fifth to a quarter of states' budgets. He then cited Virginia as an example of balancing budgets through spending reductions. He also keenly noted that while Washington liberals were in a tremendous hurry to push through ObamaCare (it became law one year ago this week), which will add more to the national debt and state obligations, it is dragging its feet in determining its legality by blocking, stalling and delaying the legal process, costing us yet more millions of tax dollars. Governor McDonnell concluded by enumerating proposals by Republican governors that actually would reform health care without the new mammoth and oppressive bureaucracy that is ObamaCare.

"It's also unconstitutional. ... But now, the very same administration that was in such a rush to pass the bill is in no hurry to find out if it's legal. ... Shockingly, the Obama administration opposes an expedited appeal to the Supreme Court."

Okay. Maybe not so shockingly.

Healthcare Lawsuit Update From Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli

Yesterday, we published the official statement of Governor Bob McDonnell regarding the one year anniversary of the federal healthcare law. In it, he mentions that more than half the nation's governors support Virginia's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case directly (although the 20-plus states that won in Florida Federal District Court are, for now, content to resume battle with the feds in Appeals Court). Today, we post a mildly abbreviated version of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's update of the case's status, as sent to supporters earlier today.

Virginia is on a 'dual track' in the case at the moment. We have a motion to expedite the case pending in the U.S. Supreme Court and at the same time we are briefing the case for presentation to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals — the appellate court that covers Virginia.

We have asked the Supreme Court to expedite the case under its Rule 11. They only do this for one or two cases per decade, so don't bet a lot of money on this one; however, the nature and cost of the healthcare law is the type that they have expedited in the past, so we'll see what they do.

We submitted the final brief on expediting this week. The Supreme Court will consider our request on April 15th. We could see a decision by the Supreme Court as soon as April 18th. ...

Under Rule 11 of the Supreme Court, Virginia has requested that the Supreme Court pull the case out of the Court of Appeals and hear it directly. This could cut almost a year off of the case, resulting in ENORMOUS savings to both state governments and the private sector if the law is found unconstitutional and stricken. And why go through all the hoops of getting ready to implement a law that may be stricken anyway? Oh, I'm sorry, there I go thinking logically again . . . naturally the Obama administration is opposing this effort . . . I know you're shocked.

You might ask yourself, "Won't the Supreme Court want to hear from Appellate Court judges?" And the answer is "maybe." Remember this case is pure legal argument. There are no documents or other discovery to consider, no trial witnesses, in fact there was no trial at all. So, we are re-arguing the same pure legal arguments from the district court again in the Court of Appeals. Also, five different judges have addressed the merits of the case, with more to come. So, there are going to be an unusual number of judges' opinions to look at — should the Supremes so choose — without even getting to the appeals courts.

Thus far, we are the only state requesting that the Supreme Court exercise its discretion to expedite the case. Whether or not the Supreme Court decides to expedite the case is entirely within their discretion, so it's hard to tell what may happen. ...

At the same time, we are about to submit our first of two briefs in the appellate court. In their opening brief, the feds made essentially the same arguments that they made in the district court. And while we adjust our presentation to include elements of other cases, our arguments will be the same as in the district court.

We will argue our case on May 10th before a three judge panel of the 4th Circuit (assuming the Supreme Court does NOT expedite the case, thereby taking it out of the appeals court). We will not know who those three judges are until the day of the argument.

Following our hearing, it would then be reasonable to look for a ruling around mid-July. I expect each side to react differently depending on who wins.

If Virginia wins in the 4th Circuit, I expect the federal government to ask the full 4th Circuit to rehear the case en banc (i.e., with all 14 judges of the 4th Circuit participating). This would be consistent with their efforts to drag the case out, as that may add several more months in the 4th Circuit, at which point, whichever side loses en banc will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the feds win in the 4th Circuit, I expect that we will immediately appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Once we get to the Supreme Court, I would expect to brief and argue the case during the next term of the Court. The next term of the Court will run from the beginning of October 2011 through the end of June 2012.

I would then expect that a final decision in our case will most likely be made (best guess) toward the end of June 2012. I think it will be very hard for the Obama administration to drag the case beyond June of 2012.

Obviously, that is very interesting timing in light of the Presidential race. And it further baffles me as to why the President would want to drag the case as close to Election Day as possible. ...

While Some May Want A Truce On Social Issues, Governor McDonnell Says Press On

While some Republicans, in Virginia and nationally, think the time has come and passed on "social issues" (i.e., preserving life and marriage), and that elections can be won only from the "center," Governor Bob McDonnell has some news for you. Social issues matter and they are worth the fight. Charlottesville television station NBC29's RichmondReport conducted an interview (read here) with the governor and posted the video online today. He was asked if there should be a "truce on social issues," perhaps in response to Indiana governor and potential GOP presidential candidate Mitch Daniels, who created headlines last year when he said there should be a "truce" on social issues (i.e., throw in the towel, traditional marriage supporters and pro-lifers). Last week, Governor Daniels reiterated that position unapologetically in The Hill.

Equally unequivocal, Governor McDonnell said that while people tend to think first about jobs and fiscal issues during a tough economy, there are certain issues that must always be discussed because they go to the core of our founding, most especially life. He added that issues regarding the family are a significant aspect of public policy and government has a place in looking for solutions to problems affecting families and in making them stronger.

From the interview:

I believe that’s very much what the focus ought to be on right now, but to say we’re not going to discuss any social or values issues because they’re controversial, I don’t think is the right thing to do. ...

There are (issues) regarding life and marriage and family that there are public policies that I think the government needs to set. ...

No truce here, carry on: Governor McDonnell affirms the importance of life, marriage and other "social issues" in public policy that some politicians prefer to ignore.

Abortion Center Safety Passes Senate On Lt. Governor Bolling’s Tie-Breaker Vote!

After a long and passionate Senate floor debate that spanned a few hours over two days, the Virginia Senate voted 20-20 this afternoon to direct the Department of Health to promulgate regulations for abortion centers. After a brief pause for the Senate clerk to announce the vote, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling cast his constitutionally authorized tie-breaking vote in favor of the bill. It now will go to Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature. After more than two decades of hiding behind a veil of political secrecy, abortion centers in Virginia will face greater scrutiny and better health standards. It was the first time ever that such legislation has even reached the Senate floor, despite numerous bills passed by the House. Each year, including earlier this session, the Senate kills the legislation in committee. But all 18 Republicans held together and two brave pro-life Democrats, Senators Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) and Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), resisted pressure from their caucus' leadership.

While the session has gone according to script this year, with the House passing and the Senate Education and Health Committee killing pro-life legislation, a dramatic turn occurred only a few days ago, in last days of session. SB 924, patroned by Senator Ryan McDougle (R-4, Hanover), which directs the Board of Health to promulgate regulations for certain health care facilities, passed the Senate and went to the House of Delegates. Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg) offered an amendment to add abortion centers. Liberals challenged its germaneness, but after consulting with his parliamentarian, House Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Stafford) ruled it in order and the House passed it overwhelmingly. That change required it to return to the Senate where the GOP caucus began to coalesce around the amendment. The vote was scheduled yesterday, but after a half-hour of debate it was passed by until today. Senate Democrat leaders pressured its two wayward colleagues, but at the outset of the tenor of today's 90-minute debate it was apparent there were no cracks in the coalition.

Unfortunately, opponents devoid of logic but full of less-than-genuine arguments, demagogued the issue. At one point Senator Janet Howell (D-32, Fairfax) mocked Senator Mark Obenshain's (R-26, Harrisonburg) recitation of federal court decisions upholding abortion center regulations, even though he was replying to her colleagues' calls for proof of legal precedent. It prompted this exchange. Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) told his colleagues to "get a life!" if they thought the bill was about women's safety, ignoring his own colleagues' faux concerns for the constitution.

Senator John Edwards (D-21, Roanoke) repeatedly claimed the bill was unconstitutional with wild assertions and vague stretches of case law, all of which were refuted by Senator Obenshain, who cited federal appeals and U.S. Supreme Court decisions. One was Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which Senator Edwards said ruled such regulations illegal. Senator Obenshain replied that "standing up and saying so doesn’t make it so," and read from the court’s opinion which plainly disproved Senator Edwards' assertions.

Several liberal senators predicted horrors such as back alley abortions even though states such as South Carolina regulate abortion centers with no such reports and Virginia regulated abortion centers until 1983. They also claimed first-trimester abortions were among the "safest procedures" despite absolutely no corroborating evidence because there are no reporting requirements mandated in Virginia. Senator Dave Marsden (D-37, Fairfax) even compared the bill to the poll tax and efforts to keep minorities from voting in the Jim Crow era.

Another desperate aspect of the debate was the demand by several liberal Democrats that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issue an opinion, perhaps the first time they've wanted his advice. Of course, it was a tactic to delay and kill the bill. Senator Edwards sarcastically said the attorney general would love to defend the bill if it became law because of the other legal actions he’s pursued. But the fact was, and they knew it, he issued an opinion in August in support of the constitutionality of such regulations. He even accommodated senators with a letter composed during a Senate recess — which added to the longevity of the debate.

Opponents' arguments, so twisted, inevitably contradicted each other, with Senator Howell's unwitting admission that abortion is, in fact, used for contraception when she said the bill would take away one method of "determining the size of families."

This was a monumental vote and a historic day. The forces of life, after years of pursuit, finally won an incremental and commonsense victory. Thank you to all who contacted their senators on this important issue! We now look forward to working within the regulatory process to ensure the regulations by the Board of Health ensure abortion centers are safe for women who make the unfortunate choice of abortion.

A Great Day With The Lt. Governor And My Blogger Brethern

Wish I had more time to write about this. Wish I had more time to participate today, but I was wearing my other hat (as lobbyist) — and even ended up lobbying my fellow bloggers to blog about the big property rights vote: But it was a tremendous day at Lt. Governor Bill Bolling's 4th Annual Bloggers Day At The Capitol, capped off with a terrific reception with the LG and Governor Bob McDonnell at the Executive Mansion in the early evening. Thanks a million Lt. Governor! Thanks also to my bloggers in arms. I wish only that I could've solely focused on the fun of talking blog shop and not slugging it out in the legislative trenches with friends and foes (some of which was going on just outside the doorway where where the afternoon bloggers' briefing took place). Oh, what I wish I could blog about!

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Small Business Tax Relief!

A funny thing happened Friday afternoon on the way to some much needed tax relief for small and family-run businesses: HB 1437, patroned by Delegate Mark Cole (R-88, Spottsylvania), which would grant localities the power to keep or discontinue the dreaded BPOL Tax, was recommitted to the Senate Finance Committee from the Senate floor even though that committee earlier in the week passed in unanimously!

Now, we need your help. Please contact senators, on the Finance Committee, and ask for their vote tomorrow morning to report this bill back to the Senate floor!

Here's what happened: Early last week the bill passed out of the Finance Committee unanimously and went to the full Senate in the "uncontested bloc." That’s where bills without dissenting committee votes go and almost always are passed, without controversy, in a group. However, on the bloc's "third read" Friday — the vote which would've sent HB 1437 to Governor Bob McDonnell — Senator Charles Colgan (D-29, Manassas), who chairs the Finance Committee, pulled it out of the bloc and his motion to "recommit" the bill to his committee did not meet opposition.

We're not sure why this bill was sent back to the Finance Committee, where no interest groups spoke in opposition it. It passed the House 94-5, but we've seen in the past that big, bipartisan margins in the House mean nothing in the Senate.

The BPOL Tax was established to fund the War of 1812. Not only has it outlived that purpose by 199 years, it is inherently unfair, taxing Virginia businesses on gross receipts rather than profit. That means companies that lose money still pay a tax! It punishes many small, family-run businesses that run on tight profit margins. In this down economy, government should do all it can to encourage job growth. The BPOL Tax kills jobs and stunts the growth of small businesses — which create 75 percent of all jobs in America.

This bill is entirely permissive. Localities, as unfair as it is, may still keep the BPOL tax if this bill becomes law. However, it allows them to tax businesses at the Virginia Taxable Income rate instead, which is entirely fair. Plus, this bill would return more decision-making authority to government closest to the people. Denying localities the option to end this tax after 199 years is indefensible. This option would give localities an edge in attracting new businesses and encourage the start up of new locally-owned businesses as well. 

State government should do all it can to help businesses thrive. Instead, we hear stories all the time, such as the small business owner in Norfolk who lost $70,000 last year, covered the loss with his savings, and still had to pay $4,000 in the BPOL Tax! Is that how we create jobs in Virginia?

A Shocking Day: Chief Justice Hassell's Untimely Death, Webb Won't Run For Re-election

I was in the Senate Finance Committee this morning watching, thankfully, two good bills, which may lead to some much needed tax reform, fly through. The committee agenda was short, normal right after "crossover," and only six bills were heard, all passing on unanimous voice votes. Can't be much simpler than that. At what should've been a quick bang of the gavel to dismiss, committee Chairman Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) made the announcement, the first one in public as it turned out: Former Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leroy Hassell, Sr., died, unexpectedly, at age 55 (WTVR.com). He previously stepped aside as chief justice, but remained on the court.  Governor Bob McDonnell ordered that the flag of the commonwealth be flown at half-staff on all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds (WTVR.com). New Chief Justice Cynthia Kinser was scheduled to be sworn in officially this week. There is no word on the status of that ceremony at this point. She will be the first woman Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice.

(Updated 4:45 p.m.: The governor has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff until his burial on all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds in Virginia. Additionally, Justice Hassell will lie in state in the Virginia State Capitol prior to burial. See his official statement honoring Justice Hassell)

Chief Justice Hassell was the first black person to serve in that position. He was a native Virginian, and proudly so. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli included this 2003 quote in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in his statement honoring Mr. Hassell:

I do not wish to serve, however, because I happen to be black. Rather, I desire to serve because I am a Virginian by birth who has a strong affection and love for the commonwealth and its people.

He will be missed. He was a man of great faith, intellect, warmth, stature and humility.

Later in the morning, a bombshell e-mail from a political consultant friend: U.S. Senator Jim Webb will not run for re-election in 2012 (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). Though not totally unexpected, the timing (through no fault of Senator Webb) was strange, so soon after the sad news about Justice Hassell. Mr. Webb had not actively engaged in fundraising and many thought from the beginning he would term limit himself, given the flukish nature of his election — and a possible Defense Secretary appointment in a potential Obama second term.

Now, the attention turns to who the Democrats will nominate. Early speculation ranges from everyone from former Governor Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe (if he can be pulled away from running for governor) to former Congressmen Rick Boucher and Tom Periello, to Krystal Ball, who unsuccessfully challenged Republican Rob Wittman in the first district last year.

A Precious Time To Reflect: Happy Thanksgiving From The Family Foundation, A Proclamation For The Commonwealth

Thanksgiving is a special time of year. More than a prelude to a crass commercial time, it celebrates a recognition of God not only in the creation of our nation, but in its exceptionalism and all the freedoms and responsibilities entailed in maintaining such graces. It calls on us to pause and give thanks to all present and past who have sacrificed for our nation, our states and our families. It is a time to give thanks to the Almighty for the many and great blessings of America, just as our Founders did, the colonists who preceded them and every generation since, no matter how bountiful or bleak the times. It may be coincidence, but the peaceful late fall couldn't be a better time for such a weekend. The quiet of the streets, the briskness of the air, the tint of the sky and the remaining foilage all are perfect accents by which to reflect. Having dear friends and families with which to reunion makes it a more precious time still.

On behalf of the board, staff, volunteers and grassroots activists across the commonwealth, The Family Foundation of Virginia wishes all Virginians a safe, happy and bountiful Thanksgiving weekend. In recognition of this uniquely American holiday, and Virginia's role in it, we commend to you Governor Bob McDonnell's proclamation recognizing November 25 as Thanksgiving Day in Virginia.

WHEREAS, the first permanent English speaking settlement in the New World was established in Virginia at Jamestown in 1607, as Captain John Smith led a group of settlers across the Atlantic on a voyage that would entail much hardship over the coming years, including disease and starvation; and

WHEREAS, to show their appreciation for the colony’s success and to take stock and give thanks for their own gifts and blessings, and in spite of tremendous adversity, the settlers in Virginia found time to celebrate the first Thanksgiving in America at Berkeley Plantation on December 4, 1619; and

WHEREAS, while reflecting upon the actions taken by the colonists at the first Thanksgiving, we also honor the Indian peoples, for without their presence, the survival of the colonists would have been ever more difficult; and

WHEREAS, American leaders and citizens have recognized a day of Thanksgiving since our first president, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789, stating “it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor”; and

WHEREAS, it is a Virginia tradition for our citizens to come together in unity on Thanksgiving Day and give thanks for the great level of serenity, harmony and abundance with which we, as citizens of a free nation, have been blessed; the rule of law by which we peaceably govern ourselves and by which our civil and religious liberties are guaranteed; and the brave servicemen and women of our armed forces who risk their lives to defend the freedoms and blessings we cherish;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize November 25, 2010 as THANKSGIVING DAY in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens; and

FURTHERMORE, I encourage all Virginians to give thanks to our Creator for our plentiful blessings, including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the unwavering strength of our families and communities.

HHS Attempted To Coverup Its Own Research: Abstinence Education Works

The reaction to Tuesday's announcement that Governor Bob McDonnell has applied for federal funds for abstinence-centered education has been intense (see Washinton Post Virginia Politics Blog). As you would suspect, Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia have opened rhetorical fire on the governor, as have several leftist blogs and commentators. If you read the comments at the end of newspaper articles (and unless you have a thick skin I wouldn't) you would think the decision to help our teenagers delay sexual activity until marriage is a conspiracy to bring back chastity belts. You may be running into some of the same misinformed rhetoric in your circles, much of it based on false claims or outright deception. Of course, those who profit from risky sexual behavior, Virginia's abortion industry, are viscerally opposed to the idea that teenagers can control themselves. One legislator who works closely with Planned Parenthood and NARAL carried this message (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot):

The reality is with teenagers their hormones come into play, and abstinence-only doesn't always work.

Then again, if they can be taught effective ways of postponing sexual activity it cuts into the abortion industry's profits.

But the primary argument has been that "abstinence education doesn’t work," "parents don't support abstinence education," or "it’s naive to think that teenagers can be abstinent." None of those arguments, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are correct. In fact, this year a study paid for by HHS, and its own recent survey, found that abstinence education is highly effective and widely supported by parents and teenagers (Washington Post).

The HHS survey released late last month (see here) found that 70 percent of parents agreed that it is "against [their] values for [their] adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage" and that "having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do." Adolescent beliefs, according to the survey, were similar.

More interestingly, HHS buried the survey results and was forced to release it to the public only after a deluge of Freedom of Information Act requests (as reported by Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential). Why, one must ask, would HHS not want people to know the results of taxpayer funded research — results that show Americans want and support abstinence before marriage?

Let’s face it, the battle over sex education is indeed a battle of worldviews and a battle for the hearts, minds, and bodies of our children. The fact is that abstinence centered programs do work and they are making a difference — science is showing that. It’s up to us to get the word out.

We hope that if you haven't already, that you please thank Governor McDonnell for taking this strong stand on abstinence education funding by clicking here to e-mail his office. Abstinence opponents are well-funded and are on the attack. We have to show the governor that the families of Virginia appreciate his action. Please contact him today.

After Years Of Roadblocks, Are The Days Over For Unregulated Abortion Centers In Virginia?

As we noted yesterday, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued an opinion Friday that clearly explains the legal basis on which the Commonwealth of Virginia can regulate abortion centers absent legislation by the General Assembly. While laws are more lasting, his advisory opinion —sought by Senator Ralph Smith (R-22, Roanoke) and Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) —  means that abortion centers operating in Virginia can be regulated by the executive branch through the state's normal regulatory process. Providing safety standards for Virginia's abortion centers have been a legislative priority for The Family Foundation for many years. Until the mid-1980s, abortion centers in Virginia were regulated. Unfortunately, the administration of then-Governor Chuck Robb repealed those regulations due to constitutional concerns. Since that time, however, as the attorney general's opinion notes, federal appeals courts have ruled that such regulations are constitutional. Yet, in Virginia, abortion centers continue to be regarded by the state as doctors' offices, which require no emergency equipment for resuscitation or hemorrhage, despite the fact that abortion is a major invasive surgical procedure. 

The Family Foundation has worked for years in the General Assembly for common sense legislation to improve safety standards in abortion centers to equal those required for ambulatory (outpatient) surgery centers. Of course, the abortion industry in Virginia — Planned Parenthood and NARAL — fight with all their political muscle against these safety standards for women in their abortion centers. Each year its allies on the Committee of Death (Senate Education and Health Committee) reject simple requirements such as an annual inspection and having a defibrillator on site.

They argue that the abortion procedure is safe, despite the fact that the state doesn't have any reporting requirements for complications due to abortion (also fought against by the abortion industry), so there is no way to really know. They also argue that abortion centers shouldn't be "singled out" for regulation.

What they don't say is that other outpatient surgery businesses are self-regulated through respected, national accreditation organizations that require significant safety measures for their seal of approval. No such respected accreditation group exists for abortionists.

The Attorney General's opinion gives Governor Bob McDonnell's administration the opportunity to create necessary regulations for abortion centers without approval from the General Assembly. Since state agencies such as the Board of Health already have the power to regulate medical facilities this is not a new policy or a policy change that should require legislation. Previous governors simply have not acted on this ability. This opinion now clears the legal path to such needed action.

Government Reform And Restructuring Commission Schedule

Starting tonight, Governor Bob McDonnell's Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring will criss-cross the commonwealth hosting a series of Town Hall meetings (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog) seeking citizen input on key issues of government reform and cost savings. It kicked off the series in early May in Richmond (see transcript from Richmond Times-Dispatch) and had its second in McLean last week at the Capital One HQ. Tonight the road show continues at Christopher Newport University and goes full tilt through the 19th. After it completes its report, the governor will hold his own series of town halls in August.

We encourage you to attend and offer ideas on how government can be streamlined, cut back, made more efficient or, where appropriate, eliminated altogether. Please take advantage of your own experiences to offer the commission thoughts, comments and ideas on how to save your fellow Virginia families their precious hard-earned tax dollars. After all, we taxpayers are the bosses and it's good to see state government — our employees — seeking our advice on reducing the size and scope of government, which in turn expands our freedoms. As believers of limited government, and witnesses to the utter failure of the age of government-as-savior, it's our opportunity duty to put our imprint on the function of the people and institutions that serve us. Don't let it pass you by.

Government Reform and Restructuring Commission Town Hall Schedule

» July 13, 5:30-7:00 p.m., Christopher Newport University, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Music & Theater Hall, 1 University Place, Newport News

» July 14, 5:30-7:00 p.m., Augusta County Government Center, Board Meeting Room, 18 Government Center Lane, Verona

» July 15, 5:30-7:00 p.m., Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Grand Hall, One Partnership Circle, Abingdon

» July 16, 1:00-2:30 p.m., Southside Planning District Office, 200 South Mecklenburg Avenue, South Hill

» July 19, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Sandler Performing Arts Center, 201 Market Street, Virginia Beach

A Floor Not A Ceiling: Governor McDonnell Explains Withdrawal From Race To The Top

Last week, Governor Bob McDonnell withdrew Virginia from the federal government's Race To The Top program (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot), which provides millions of dollars in grant funding to public education. However, the inevitable federal strings come with those millions. In this case, the deal breaker was the adoption of federal academic standards that are weaker than our own Standards of Learning. As the governor told Joe Scarborough on MSNBC yesterday, standards should be a floor, not a ceiling. Of course, the federal government's involvement in local education is a problem in and of itself — good intentions and incentives aside, it shouldn't bribe states and localities with other people's tax dollars for a one-size-fits-all approach. (Instead, how about letting the states — the people — keep the money to begin with, or using the money to balance the budget?) Here's the governor explaining his reasons himself:

Governor McDonnell: Virginia won't be bought off by the feds, not even for a couple hundred million dollars!

McDonnell's First 100 Days: The View From The Family Foundation

The Washington Post ran a recent Sunday edition story that suggested a chasm has developed between Governor Bob McDonnell and social conservatives. According to the article, some have become disheartened and feel the governor has let them down while others are more willing to be patient and give the governor time. So, what does The Family Foundation think of the governor's first 100 plus days? Understanding the context of events is always key to accurate analysis. So let’s remember that for the past eight years social conservatives in Virginia have been isolated from the governor's office. Both previous governors were at times openly hostile to traditional values issues. Governor Mark Warner gave $25,000 to the Commonwealth Coalition, the organization that opposed the Marriage Amendment, and regularly opposed our agenda (hear in his own words what he thinks of Christian conservatives). Governor Tim Kaine openly campaigned against the Marriage Amendment and also opposed much of our agenda (though he did work with us on several marriage initiatives). Add to that the fact that in November 2008 Virginians voted for Barack Obama for president, and political pundits (as usual) proclaimed social conservatism dead. Any candidate who wanted to win had to disavow  caring about the unborn and marriage and stick to one thing and one thing only — money (well, the economy).

Enter Bob McDonnell. A long time friend of social conservatives and leader on many of our issues, values voters were energized by a candidate they could call "one of us." While campaigning, candidate McDonnell steered clear of social issues unless asked, focusing on exactly what the "experts" said he had to focus on — the economy. Some social conservatives expressed frustration that McDonnell wasn't more vocal on abortion and other social conservative causes, but many understood that the political climate was such that the majority of voters were most concerned about their personal well-being with an economy in recession and a federal government spending us into oblivion.

On Election Day, social conservatives voted for McDonnell in droves. Exit polling showed that nearly half of McDonnell's voters were self-identified evangelicals. Clearly, they believed that Bob McDonnell was going to be their guy in the Governor's Mansion. As with any constituency, those votes did not come without expectations, and they were high expectations at that.

Once sworn in, he went to work on his campaign promise to bring Virginians a balanced budget without higher taxes, and job development. Most agree that the governor has largely fulfilled those promises — though some are concerned with increased fees in the budget. During his administration's first General Assembly session the governor was relatively quiet on social issues, though his administration did vocally support abortion center safety legislation in the Senate Education and Health Committee. He also renewed an executive order concerning non-discrimination in state hiring practices, but did not include "sexual orientation" as had been done by the two previous governors (though Governor Warner did it in the last month of his administration).

Of course, things didn't go perfectly for the new administration. Social conservatives were particularly disappointed that he chose to issue an "executive directive" concerning hiring practices that included "sexual orientation," and we explained those concerns to him both publically and privately. He did, however, sign the Health Care Freedom Act, the first legislation of its kind in the nation that hopefully will protect Virginians from being forced by the federal government to purchase health insurance. He also protected Virginians from being forced to pay for low-income elective abortions (a major pro-life victory) and ensured that Planned Parenthood can't use the money they make off of their new license plate to perform abortions.

Now, we are just passed the first four months of his four-year term, and some conservatives are expressing disappointment, even outrage, with the governor's actions thus far. Interestingly, I was interviewed for the Post article long before its publication date, and at the time, we were encouraging the governor's office to take a more pro-active approach on social conservative issues. In particular, the discussion surrounded the pro-life budget amendments the governor chose not to introduce — defunding Planned Parenthood and failed embryonic stem cell research. On that issue I said to the Post:

We want him to do more, and we will continue to ask him.

I stand by those words. Once something is in the budget it is difficult to remove it. While we trust that Planned Parenthood will not receive any taxpayer money during this administration, we continue to believe that adding such language to the state budget will protect taxpayers in future years.

But remember the context of my Post interview:

In between my interview with the Post and the article's publication — several days — the governor fulfilled an extremely important campaign promise and reversed the Kaine administration's discriminatory prohibition on prayers offered by state police chaplains. In a press release I said we were "thrilled" with the governor's action, and we are. This was an important and courageous action and Virginians are better off for it. We also asked you to contact Governor McDonnell and thank him as well.

So, how is the governor doing? (Honestly, I think social conservatives need to take a deep breath, and remember that there are still three years and seven months left in this administration. We have to remember the victories he has delivered, while knowing that there is still a lot to be accomplished. But we are confident that the governor understands the concerns we have. There are pressing issues facing our commonwealth and the governor needs to address those issues. At the same time, the culture of Virginia must also be a priority for this administration. We will continue to encourage him to take the lead on family issues that are the foundation to the very economy he is trying to fix (see more of my comments in another article on this topic in the Richmond Times-Dispatch).

The Family Foundation is determined to be strategic in our efforts. We understand the political climate is hostile and we have to accept that incremental victories are victories nonetheless. Those who demand "all or nothing" tend to receive nothing. We are encouraged by the recent actions of Governor McDonnell and continue to believe he will fulfill his campaign promises.