Washington Update for the Week of March 19, 2013
A regular legislative update from Bread for the World's government relations team.Call to Action: Ask the administration and your members of Congress to replace the sequester (automatic across-the-board cuts) with a comprehensive, balanced, and bipartisan approach to deficit reduction. Any package that replaces sequestration must protect programs for hungry and poor people and include increased revenue. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use our toll free number: 1-800-826-3688.
Bread’s 2013 Offering of Letters, “A Place at the Table,” is in full swing. In Washington, D.C., however, several legislative proposals threaten programs that help address hunger and poverty. During the last two weeks, more proposals that would drastically cut anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs have come to light. Below is a list of current proposed legislation affecting programs for hungry and poor people:
Sequestration: The sequester is still in place and poised to cut programs on which vulnerable populations rely. Sequestration will impose a 5 percent across-the-board cut to federal programs, including WIC and PFDA, for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. This is in addition to a small (less than 1 percent) rescission to some discretionary programs, a result of sequestration being delayed by two months. For more on sequestration basics, and a list of anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs that are affected, download our fact sheet "The Consequences of Sequestration" or read this overview of a recent webinar conducted by Bread and our Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs (DHN) coalition partners.
Continuing Resolution: The House and Senate have both approved bills to fund the government through September, the end of the fiscal year. This averted a government shutdown, but both measures will lead to reductions in spending on WIC and many PFDA programs. The Senate passed the bill 73-26, and the House approved it 318-109. It now goes to the president for his signature.
Budget Resolutions: [Update, 3/25/12: Both the House and Senate have passed budget resolutions. See Bread for the World's press release for details.]
Last week, both House and Senate budget committees released their FY14 budget proposals. Both budgets passed on strict party-line votes. Bread for the World released a comparison chart of the two proposals, evaluating them in terms of how they would affect hungry and poor people. The House proposal would drastically cut programs that serve vulnerable populations—66 percent of the cuts would come from programs that serve low-income people— while the Senate version takes a more balanced approach. Read our press release here. The House has passed its budget and the Senate is expected to pass its budget before the end of the week, after about 50 hours of debate.In the Senate, a budget resolution receives special fast-track procedures. Only 51 votes are needed for passage. Senators can offer unlimited amendments, which receive just a few minutes of discussion followed by a series of rapid roll-call votes on each amendment, known as “vote-a-rama.” Members often use these amendments to score political points, and we expect some particularly damaging amendments to appear—many that would cut SNAP or prevent Congress from raising revenues as a part of deficit reduction.
The White House will release its budget on April 8.
Farm Bill/SNAP: Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) recently reintroduced a resolution in support of SNAP, H. Res. 90, along with Reps. Fudge (D-Ohio), DeLauro (D-Conn.), and George Miller (D-Calif.). This resolution is very similar to H. Res. 760, which was introduced last year and had more than 100 cosponsors. Currently, H. Res. 90 has 36 cosponsors and we are urging more members to sign on to show their support for SNAP. To view the latest list of cosponsors, go here. If your representative is not on the list, please invite them to cosponsor.
On the Senate side, we continue efforts to push back against Senator Roberts’ (R-Kan.) SNAP cut bill. The Improve Nutrition Program Integrity and Deficit Reduction Act (S. 458), would cut more than $36 billion from SNAP. This bill is similar to the budget reconciliation bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee and passed by the full House of Representatives in May 2012 by party-line votes. Senator Thune (R-S.D.) and Senator Johanns (R-Neb.) have both signed on to the bill. While we do not expect this bill to become law, it’s possible the full package or individual provisions could be offered as amendments in the Budget Committee markup or in other bills considered by the Senate Agriculture Committee or on the Senate floor.
We now have more than 8,000 signatures on the petition asking President Barack Obama to set a goal and work with Congress to end hunger at home and abroad. If you haven’t already done so, sign the petition today, and encourage others in your network to join you.
Congress is on recess through April 8. Washington update will return when Congress does.
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