Washington Update for the Week of April 15, 2013
A regular legislative update from Bread for the World's government relations team.
Call to Action: Ask members of Congress to stop procrastinating and include taxes as part of a big budget deal. Urge your senators and representative to enact a deficit-reduction deal that replaces sequestration, raises sufficient revenues, and addresses entitlement spending. 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 and the impact of your letters and phone calls is already being felt in Congress. Below is a list of current proposed legislation affecting programs for hungry and poor people.
Budget: As previously reported, the House and the Senate passed their respective fiscal year 2014 budget resolutions earlier this month. The White House released its FY2014 budget last week. Both the Senate’s and president’s budgets would replace the sequester. The president’s proposal includes his last offer to House Speaker John Boehner during the fiscal cliff negotiations for a grand bargain, which raises revenue and reforms entitlements.
The president’s budget proposal also includes a proposal for food aid reform that could enable up to 4 million more people to be reached with comparable resources. Bread for the World welcomes the reforms, and has joined other organizations in issuing a statement of support.
The House and Senate are now negotiating the conference process whereby a single compromised version of the budget is agreed upon by both chambers. While it’s unclear if the chambers will actually conference a FY2014 budget resolution, this could provide a path for the grand bargain and a replacement of the sequester.
Sequestration: The sequester is still in place and poised to cut programs on which vulnerable populations rely. Sequestration will impose roughly a 5 percent across-the-board cut to federal programs, including WIC and poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA), for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. This is in addition to a small (less than 1 percent[H1] ) rescission to some discretionary programs included in the final funding bill for 2013, 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. "
Taxes: The idea that cutting effective programs is necessary in order to reduce deficits is false. Our government could bridge the gap with more revenue. Bread for the World advocates for slight increases in revenue balanced by responsible spending cuts.
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, the committees with jurisdiction over the tax code, are both moving on tax reform. Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has issued a series of overhaul proposals over the past two years and has promised legislation for comprehensive rewrite by the end of the year. The Finance Committee is putting together options for tax reform. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), also eager to see tax reform, has been holding meetings with Camp and other Republicans. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) have been topics of discussion within both committees. Bread for the World sent a letter to the Ways and Means Committee, stressing the importance of these refundable tax credits. The letter urged Congress to protect these credits, make the 2009 improvements permanent, and strengthen the credits for low-wage workers.
Bread members who have senators and representatives on those committees will need to be especially persistent in messaging their members as we continue to urge Congress to include revenues so we can adequately fund programs that help people who are hungry or living in poverty.
Farm Bill/SNAP: Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) recently reintroduced a resolution in support of SNAP, H. Res. 90. 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 102 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.
Both the House and Senate agriculture committees are expected to begin markup of their bills within the next two weeks. As dates are firmed up, we will let you know via Bread Blog when it is time to contact your members of Congress.
Immigration Reform: Bread for the World will act as an ally on immigration reform, mobilizing people of faith and aligning with partners who seek reform that respects the dignity of immigrants in the United States while addressing poverty and hunger overseas. To learn more about Bread for the World’s priorities for immigration reform, please visit www.bread.org/immigration.
The Senate “Gang of 8” on immigration reform—Sens. Rubio (R-Fla.), McCain (R-Ariz.), Flake (R-Ariz.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Bennet (D-Colo.)—released its immigration reform proposal this week. The Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearings on immigration reform legislation today and will continue into next week. The House will go through an independent process.
We now have more than 10,000 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.
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