Summer has officially begun, and we hope you’re enjoying the longer days and warmer weather. And before we know it, the 4th of July Independence Day holiday will be here. In the midst of celebrating the birth of our nation, don’t forget that your members of Congress will be home from Washington D.C. for the holiday recess. It’s a great opportunity for you to visit their district office and let them know that you care about our brothers and sisters who are poor and marginalized.
Not sure who your elected officials are? You can easily find them here, and while you may not be able to meet with your Senator or Representative directly, you should be able to meet with a staff member who can relay your message to your legislator. Research from the Congressional Management Foundation has shown that constituent visits carry a great deal of weight when legislators are making decisions about how to vote. For some basic guidelines on how to set up a visit, please refer back to the USCCB website. It’s simple to do and is one of the great parts of our democracy. You can also call your regional CRS office for assistance.
The past few weeks have seen a flurry of legislative activity around the Farm Bill. Following passage in the Senate earlier this month, the House of Representatives took up their version of the bill last week. The bill included a very important amendment proposed by Representatives Royce of California and Engel of New York that would have reformed the Food for Peace program to address inefficiencies related to monetization and boost cash available for food aid funded programs, reforms that CRS and USCCB have long supported. Many of you contacted your Representative asking them to support the amendment. Thank you for taking the time to raise your voice, but unfortunately the amendment did not pass. There was a bright side though: it was a pretty tight vote of 203 members in favor and 220 members against the amendment. This is good news because it showed that there is substantial bipartisan support for reforming the Food for Peace program, and when this issue comes up again, we can build on this already substantial support.
The House of Representatives voted last Thursday not to approve reauthorizing the full Farm Bill for the next five year period. As it stood, the bill proposed a devastating cut of $20.5 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which the Catholic community opposed. In addition, several harmful amendments to SNAP were attached to the bill. With the failure of the Farm Bill to pass in the House, the future of the legislation is uncertain. The House and Senate must reach an agreement on the Farm Bill before September 30 when the current law expires, or a temporary fix will have to be enacted. Stay tuned for more updates as the Farm Bill heats up on Capitol Hill this summer.
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