Congress Protects Many Anti-Hunger Programs, Fails to Act on Unemployment
Yesterday, Congress passed a $1.1 trillion broad spending bill that replaces the sequester for two years while maintaining a circle of protection around many international and domestic programs that help people living in poverty and experiencing hunger. (Read Bread for the World's press release on the measure: "FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Sets Tone for Future Bipartisan Negotiations" for more information.)
Legislators did the right thing by acting to both restore some of the cuts sequestration imposed on anti-hunger programs, and increase funding for important anti-poverty programs, such as Head Start. Still, members of Congress haven't yet extended unemployment insurance—and every additional week that they fail to act, another 72,000 unemployed workers will continue to lose their assistance .
“This bill does a great deal to help hungry people in this country, but we are disappointed Congress didn't use this opportunity to help millions of job seekers,” Bread for the World President David Beckmann said today. “If we are truly committed to making progress against hunger, lawmakers will extend unemployment insurance as soon as possible.”
Although the U.S. economy is improving, there are still 1.3 million fewer jobs today than at the beginning of the Great Recession nearly 6 years ago, and many Americans are struggling to find work. “It’s very nerve-wracking and I’m very anxious,” Clarissa Garcia Jewett, a nurse in Miramar, Fla., told CBS News last week. She lost her job in May and recently lost her extended unemployment benefit as well. “I really don’t know where to go, because what little income we had coming in is gone. I don’t know what we’re going to do. You go from it being bad to being dire. What do I do?"
The spending bill passed yesterday is an important move—one that signals that members of Congress are able to put aside partisan politics and work together—but our legislators must also restore help for the long-term unemployed. For people who are looking for work, receiving an unemployment check means they're able to continue to put food on the table and keep their homes during a difficult and stressful time.
Call (800-326-4941) or email your members of Congress today, and tell them to extend unemployment assistance without delay.
Photo: At Our Daily Bread Employment Center in Baltimore, people line up for the Hot Meal Program, held seven days a week (Jim Stipe).
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