What a year it’s been! You are an investor in America’s future and in the conservative movement. Thank you once again for your support of The Heritage Foundation and for all our achievements in 2018!

• Among the many Heritage national defense recommendations followed by the Trump Administration is the suspension of U.S. aid to Pakistan, a supporter of the Taliban and other terrorist networks.
• Heeding the advice of Heritage Senior Fellow Mike Gonzalez, the U.S. Census Committee announces it will not create a new ethnic category in the 2020 Census (Middle East North Africa or “MENA”). This clandestine effort would have divided America along yet another ethnic line and fanned the flames of identity politics.

• The University of Pennsylvania announces that in its study of 7,815 think tanks around the world, The Heritage Foundation ranked No. 1 in terms of impacting public policy. The UPenn study also ranks Heritage No. 2 for “Think Tanks to Watch in 2018” and No. 4 for “Best Use of Social Media and Networks.”
• Vice President Mike Pence appoints Heritage Senior Fellow Dean Cheng, Heritage’s expert in Chinese military thinking and strategy, to the new U.S. Space Council Advisory Committee.

• Amid liberals’ anti-gun fervor in the wake of the tragic Parkland, Fla., school shooting, Heritage holds a successful “School Safety Teach-In.” The event brings together young people, teachers, mental health professionals, and policy experts to talk about solutions that could actually prevent school violence.

• A grassroots campaign by Heritage Action for America to get senators to confirm President Trump’s judicial nominees results in another great confirmation: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
• Heritage President Kay Coles James is interviewed by Fox News’ Chris Wallace as the “Power Player of the Week” segment. This comes on the heels of similar features on James in Politico Playbook’s “Women to Watch” Power List and CQ’s “18 to Watch in 2018.” These interviews are part of Heritage’s renewed effort to take the conservative message to more women, minorities, and young people.
• An idea first conceived by The Heritage Foundation’s Will Skillman Fellow Lindsey Burke—Education Savings Accounts for children from military families— is introduced as legislation in Congress. Heritage Action delivers to Capitol Hill a letter of support signed by 2,000 military connected families.

• Using talking points straight out of commentary by Heritage Senior Fellow Jim Phillips, President Trump announces U.S. withdrawal from the dangerous Iran nuclear deal. This is a move Heritage has urged since the deal was signed.

• Heritage celebrates a streak of pro-liberty decisions by the Supreme Court; decisions in which Heritage was involved in messaging and legal strategy. The Court upholds Trump’s travel ban, protects religious freedom in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, affirms the right of pro-life pregnancy centers not to advertise abortion, and defends the right of non-union members to refuse to pay mandatory union dues.
• Ambassador Nikki Haley chooses Heritage to deliver an internationally covered speech on the United States’ withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council. The decision to withdraw from the anti-Israel U.N. Human Rights Council was heavily influenced by the writings of Heritage’s Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs Brett Schaefer.
• On June 20, The New York Times Magazine ran a lengthy article highlighting Heritage’s extensive work on the 2016 Presidential Transition and highlighting Heritage’s work on recommending personnel for the Trump Administration.

• Heritage Action’s grassroots network of Sentinels pressures House members to vote against a “compromise” amnesty bill. The bill would have given amnesty, and a pathway to citizenship, to millions of illegal immigrants and would have been a disaster for American immigration enforcement and policy.
• Klon Kitchen, Heritage’s new senior research fellow for science, technology, and national security, has a meeting with Facebook executives to talk about their suppression of conservative voices. The media—from far right to far left—take notice of the meeting and of the growing respect that Facebook and Google have for Heritage.

• Recognizing the depleted state of America’s military, as highlighted in Heritage’s Index of U.S. Military Strength, Congress passes and the President signs an encouraging 2019 National Defense Reauthorization Act. The new NDAA puts renewed emphasis on modernizing America’s missile defenses and provides new authorities and funding to rebuild the nation’s military.
• Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions take action on an issue Heritage has been speaking against for years: affirmative action in college admissions. DeVos and Sessions reverse seven such discriminatory regulations from the Obama era.

• The House passes a package of three tax reform proposals, nicknamed “Tax Reform 2.0,” that follow Heritage guidance for expanding and making permanent key elements of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
• Rigorous campaigns by Heritage and Heritage Action help Judge Brett Kavanaugh to overcome a vicious smear campaign and become America’s newest Supreme Court justice.
• President Trump voices his intent to withdraw the United States from the bi-lateral Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia—a treaty Heritage has sharply criticized for decades.

• The New York Times once again takes notice as Heritage’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies launches a new academy to train and hone the constitutional insights of those who have accepted federal judicial clerkships in 2019.
• Heritage hosts 20 of the newly elected members of the House at its 2018 New Member Orientation. Attendees include former Navy Seal Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-TX, whose guest appearance on Saturday Night Live (in which he called for both political parties to respect civil discourse) went viral.

• A federal judge rules Obamacare unconstitutional because its individual mandate penalty—which was set at $0 under the Heritage-shaped 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—becomes a mute “tax” that no longer advances a compelling government interest. The unexpected ruling lays the groundwork for Heritage’s free-market “Health Care Choices” proposal in 2019.
• The Trump Administration rescinds President Obama’s harmful 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter, warning schools that racial disparities in their suspension rates would trigger a federal investigation. Heritage spent the year explaining how this guidance sheltered violent students and made schools more dangerous.
• The most significant criminal justice reform bill in a generation is signed into law. Following many ideas espoused by The Heritage Foundation, the First Step Act gives judges more discretion to impose appropriate sentences for low-level, non-violent offenders—and equips inmates with skills they need to become law-abiding, productive citizens upon release.

On Friday morning, President Trump declared a national emergency to confront the humanitarian and security crisis on the southern border. He will direct up to $8 billion for border-wall funding in order to stop an inflow of drugs, human trafficking, and illegal immigration into the United States.

Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James released a statement on the decision.

“Conservatives are disappointed in Congress and frustrated that its failure has led to today’s action by the president,” she said. “The omnibus legislation coupled with today’s announcement is an unacceptable resolution to a genuine national crisis.”

Trump declared the national emergency after Congress passed a spending deal that included $1.375 billion for new border wall funding—far less than the $5.7 billion that the president requested.

Read Heritage President Kay Coles James’ full statement here.

Now that Heritage has reacted, what’s your take on President Trump’s National Emergency Declaration?

Under the devastating socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro, Venezuelans have no food, medicine, or opportunity. But recently, hope has sprung, and Venezuela’s people have a chance to oust Maduro and his regime for good. On Monday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, spoke at an event hosted by The Heritage Foundation and the International Republican Institute to discuss the latest political developments in Venezuela, Interim President Juan Guaidó, and next steps for U.S. policy.

Read more about the event highlights on The Daily Signal

Watch the event at Heritage.org

Listen to the “Heritage Explains” podcast to get up to speed on the evolving crisis

Heritage’s Ana Quintana has been following the situation in Venezuela for a long time. Read her recent article: Maduro Must Go: Venezuelans Deserve a Functioning Democracy

After the event, Rubio spoke with Heritage Action’s Executive Director Tim Chapman to discuss the future of the conservative movement.

Watch Rubio’s interview with Tim Chapman

Given that Venezuela’s collapse is destabilizing the region, what should the United States do to prevent the crisis from spreading?

Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that resulted in the deaths of 17 students and staff members. Since the shooting, lawmakers across the country have been working to find a solution to make our schools safer. Heritage recently released new research that examines the intersection of mental illness, violence, and firearms.

“We must ensure that policy decisions regarding Second Amendment rights reflect an accurate understanding of the role mental illness does and does not play in gun violence, as well as an accurate understanding of why the United States is suffering from a crisis of untreated serious mental illness,” write Heritage experts John Malcolm and Amy Swearer.

Read the new report on mental illness, violence, and firearms

Learn about Heritage’s School Safety Initiative

Now that you’ve heard from our experts, what else can we do to make our schools safe?

Hawk Newsome, right, founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, speaks at South Bronx Community High School with Nick Cannon, a rapper, actor, and comedian. (Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In 2017, Black Lives Matter of Greater New York founder Hawk Newsome went to protest at a pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C. Then the unexpected happened: he took the stage—and won over the crowd. “They went from booing to cheering us on, in a matter of three minutes,” said Newsome.

Heritage’s Rob Bluey interviewed Newsome in the South Bronx to learn more about the man who is working to find common ground among Americans of all stripes. “If we really want to make America great, we do it together,” said Newsome.

Read more about Rob’s interview with Black Lives Matter leader Hawk Newsome

Listen to the full interview on The Daily Signal podcast

A large number of Heritage readers reacted to this story:

“Dear Daily Signal: Thanks for your interview with Black Lives Matter activist Hawk Newsome. It’s about time someone reached out and focused on what unites us. Reaching out creates bonds and decreases hate, and most importantly, helps all of us focus on politicians and hold them to account. We should be initiating these opportunities.I spent many years leading a nonprofit, The Food Project, which trains and places teens and young adults at the center of creating sustainable, local food systems. At its heart is bringing teens and young adults together from low income, mostly minority urban communities, with suburban, mostly white, middle class and wealthy communities. The teens and young adults learn how to work across race and class and also navigate the urban and suburban cultural divide. Powerful relationships across differences blossom because we provide structured opportunities in safe spaces for individuals to share and listen to each other’s personal stories. It’s on that level of sharing deeply personal experiences and seeing that in spite of vast differences, basic values are held on common. That’s when minds and hearts are changed. “
Pat Gray, Lincoln, Mass.

“Thank you so much for the interview with Hawk Newsome. We can’t be afraid to listen and talk. Regular media won’t do it; they need to have the deck “stacked.”I appreciate hearing this young man. He needs to be heard. Please do follow ups.”
Catherine Anderson, Walla Walla, Wash.

“This is a wonderful interview with Hawk Newsome. It’s helpful to see how this man thinks instead of all of the stereotypes we see in mainstream news and blogs—on both sides. We need more understanding of our common humanity. Please do more of these interviews—they will help heal the division and save our beloved nation.”
Mary-Jo Schumburg

Our goal for 2019 is to speak to more Americans outside of the “conservative bubble” and build bridges to different communities. Who do you think Heritage should speak with?

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