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CR and help for low income Americans.
In 2008’s Offering of Letters, Bread for the World had asked congress to increase funding to poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) by five billion dollars. This year congress was unable to finalize appropriations and will continue their work in next year. We will continue asking our nation's decision makers through this year and on into March of 2009 when the Appropriations Committee gets back to work for a needed increase to keep the U.S. on track with the Millennium Development Goals. September 24th the House passed a $600 billion continuing resolution (CR) for the 2009 appropriations. The Senate approved the measure on September 27th.
There are a few bright spots in the CR.
• The bill includes $5.1 billion for low-income heating assistance (LIHEAP). With soaring energy prices the poor and the elderly will be hard hit this winter by heating costs.
• The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program also got a much needed boost in funding of $6.658 billion although that amount is still not adequate to fund WIC for all of FY09. With increased food prices during this year’s economic downturn, WIC is experiencing growing participation.
• Finally, the CR also provides $163 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). CSFP uses USDA commodities to supplement young mothers and the elderly with nutritious food to their diets.
All these programs depend on annual appropriations. The increases over 2008 levels are necessary as needs in these programs grow, especially as food prices increase. Continuing resolutions keep funding levels for all programs at the 2008 levels until congress finalizes the 2009 appropriations.
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