National Human Services Assembly

Johnson Amendment Timeline

Johnson Amendment Timeline and Updates

January 3, 2017 – Legislation to repeal the Johnson Amendment is introduced in the House (H.R. 172).

February 1, 2017 – Legislation to significantly weaken the Johnson Amendment is introduced in both the House (H.R. 781) and Senate (S. 265).

March 1, 2017 – National Council of Nonprofits launches campaign to protect the Johnson Amendment and requests organizations to sign the Community Letter in Support of Nonprofit Nonpartisanship. The National Human Services Assembly joins the campaign as a collaborative partner.

April 5, 2017 – The community letter is delivered to leaders in the House and Senate with signatures from more than 4,500 social sector nonprofits, private foundations, and religious institutions. National Human Services Assembly CEO, Lee Sherman, issued a statement to members.

May 4, 2017 – The House Committee on Government Oversight convenes a hearing to examine the “free speech rights of churches.” On the same day, President Trump issues an Executive Order intended to limit the protections of the Johnson Amendment for religious organizations. Many commentators and civil rights advocates correctly argue that the order does not carry much legal significance.

June 29, 2017 – The House Financial Services Subcommittee approves the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Act of 2018 with an extraneous policy rider (Section 116) that would effectively prevent the Internal Revenue Service from enforcing the protections of the Johnson Amendment against churches.

July 3, 2017 – Americans United for the Separation of Church and State lead grassroots effort to protect the Johnson Amendment during July recess.

July 12, 2017 – National Human Services Assembly joins 108 national nonprofits and religious organizations in signing a letter opposing the Johnson Amendment provision in the FSGG Appropriations Act of 2018.

July 13, 2017 – The full House Appropriations Committee votes to approve the FSGG appropriations bill with the rider to weaken the Johnson Amendment, sending it to the House floor. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) unsuccessfully offers an amendment to remove Section 116 from the bill, which receives bipartisan support, but ultimately fails.

July 19, 2017 – National Human Services Assembly, and the collective partners, relaunch the campaign to protect nonprofit nonpartisanship with the goal of reaching 10,000 organizational signers.

August 7, 2017 – National Human Services Assembly releases talking points to advocate for keeping the Johnson Amendment intact to assist organizations as they meet with their policymakers.

September 14, 2017 – Johnson Amendment rider in the FSGG appropriations bill is included in the omnibus appropriations bill passed by the House.

October 30, 2017 – The National Human Services Assembly participates with other nonprofits in a Johnson Amendment day of action.

November 3, 2017 – The National Human Services Assembly joins letter from national nonprofits to House Ways & Means Committee leadership asking them not to include language to repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment in the tax legislation.

November 9, 2017 – House-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes provision to exempt all nonprofits from certain political activities, including endorsing or opposing individual candidates. The collaborative partnership engages in action campaign encouraging members of the Senate to exclude the Johnson Amendment language in the House bill from the Senate version.

December 14, 2017 – Language to weaken the Johnson Amendment is stripped from the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

February 8, 2018 – The National Council of Nonprofits issues a press release urging Congress to protect the Johnson Amendment, in response to a call from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise at the National Prayer Breakfast to repeal the protection. The release quotes National Human Services Assembly CEO Lee Sherman, along with several other leaders from the Collaborative.

February 26, 2018 – A look at the Johnson Amendment with Amanda Tyler and Tim Delaney reviewing the current threats and expectations  going forward about how lawmakers will approach the Johnson Amendment.

March 21, 2018 – Congress passes the 2018 Omnibus appropriations bill without language weakening the Johnson Amendment.

June 13, 2018 – the House Appropriations Committee votes in favor of a version of FSGG appropriations bill that includes a provision (Section 112) that effectively shields churches and other houses of worship from enforcement of the Johnson Amendment.

July 16, 2018 – the National Assembly joins statement in opposition to the Rules Committee’s decision not to allow a vote on two amendments that would strip the anti-Johnson Amendment rider from the FSGG appropriations bill.