November’s Conference Call and Webinar: "Time is Running Out"
Watch this informative video on sequestration, "Stop the Cuts," created by NDD United, a Bread for the World partner organization.
"Enough is enough," said Amelia Kegan, Bread for the World senior policy analyst, during November's grassroots national conference call and webinar.
Sequestration – the automatic cuts enacted by default because Congress was unable to negotiate a budget last year – is harming Americans and increasing the numbers of families that experience hunger. Recent cuts to SNAP (food stamps), the program that helps 49 million struggling Americans put food on the table, will be felt just days before a national holiday that celebrates abundance. And immigration reform, which could boost the economy and decrease hunger for more than 11 million undocumented workers, languishes in a "new normal" of delays and partisanship bickering.
Kegan's frustration with Congress makes sense – it's likely a feeling many of us share. It is frustrating for Christians to watch this Congress act to reverse the automatic cuts that inconvenienced air travelers, while our seniors who depend on Wheels on Meals, and mothers who participate in the WIC nutrition program, continue to suffer. It sends a message that reducing wait times to board airplanes trumps the alleviation of hunger and poverty.
But the efforts of compassionate advocates have helped keep many cuts at bay. The next couple of weeks will require a vocal outpouring of protest from anti-hunger advocates. We must tell Congress that we have had enough.
"Time is running out," Kegan told participants on the call. Congress must pass a 2014 budget and finalize the farm bill before the end of the year, or we face the possibility of another government shutdown. The budget conference must provide a compromise by Dec. 13, which means they have fewer than 10 legislative days to reach an agreement. Kegan worries legislators will be in such a hurry that they may not reach a compromise that protects SNAP, reforms food aid, and replaces sequestration with a balance of revenue and smart cuts.
Kegan highlighted the report "Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Have Made Us Sicker, Poorer and Less Secure," which tells the stories of people who have been affected by these cuts. We forget that federal investments maintain the health and wellbeing of our communities. Sequestration – now lauded by some in Congress as efficient deficit reduction – has had profound costs for individuals, communities, and our nation, creating a drag on the economy and hampering job growth.
An increase in jobs is the economic boost this country needs – an idea that is central to the 2014 Hunger Report, which will be released Monday. Immigration reform with a path to citizenship will also help the economy and take a bite out of hunger. Many organizations, including Bread for the World, are participating in Fast for Families, a movement to pressure the House to act on immigration reform.
Every month, we hold a conference call and webinar to update our members. The next call will be Dec. 17 at 4 p.m. EST. Slides from this week’s call can be seen below.
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