The following is a summary of advocacy efforts during the last two months, what has been accomplished, and what you can do to follow-up with your Congresspersons during the Congressional recess that end on September 12.
Climate Change: We asked you to urge key senators to include and strengthen provisions in climate legislation that would protect poor and vulnerable people, in our country and around the world, from the impacts of climate change and the effects of policies needed to address it. Unfortunately, the Senate will not consider climate legislation this year. When Congress takes up this important legislation in the future we will call on you again to urge your members to strengthen these protections. In the meantime, we will continue to engage the Administration and members of Congress about the bishops’ priorities and to educate Catholics about this important issue.
Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): Due to your successful advocacy efforts, provisions are now included in the financial reform bill requiring large U.S. companies to take steps, including regular audits, to ensure that the minerals used in their products are not financing militia violence in the eastern Congo. The bill also allows companies to label goods as “conflict mineral-free” and directs the U.S. government to develop a strategy that addresses the links among human rights abuses and illegal extraction of minerals from the Congo. Thanks to your advocacy efforts, the prayers of the Church and people in DRC have been answered.
Accountability and Extractive Industries: Thanks to your efforts, the financial reform legislation also now includes a provision requiring large U.S. companies that extract minerals, oil, and gas to publish what they pay to the governments of the countries in which they work. This requirement will make it easier for civil society in those countries to hold their governments accountable for how these revenues are used. Thanks to your successful advocacy efforts, poor and vulnerable people throughout the world will benefit.
Haiti: We asked you to urge Congress to provide much-needed emergency relief and funds for long-term reconstruction in Haiti. Congress passed the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP, S. 3275 and H.R. 5160) and the Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery Act for Haiti (H.R. 4573 and S. 2961) and both pieces of legislation were signed by the President. These are huge victories that will help Haiti to recover and rebuild. We are deeply thankful for your support of Haiti as it struggles to recover from the devastating earthquake.
FY 2010 Supplemental Budget Request: Thanks in part to your advocacy around the Emergency Supplemental, Congress approved $ 2.8 billion for Haiti (our ask was $2.5 billion), of which $1.23 billion went to relief and reconstruction, $943 to debt relief, and $150 million to food assistance. Of the $1.597 billion we requested for global emergency needs, Congress approved $165 million for migration and refugee assistance and $460 million for International Disaster Assistance. Although the amounts allocated for global emergency needs did not reach the levels CRS and USCCB had requested, in these difficult economic times, the additional funds are welcome and will save lives and help protect human dignity.
Peace in the Holy Land: We continue to urge strong U.S. leadership for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—a secure and recognized Israel living alongside an independent and viable Palestinian state. In addition to your grassroots advocacy, Christian leaders, including Bishop Dennis Madden, have met with a high ranking Administration official to urge action for a just peace.
Sudan: We asked you to urge President Obama to do everything he can to support full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and other efforts to promote peace and stability in Sudan. Thanks to your efforts and the recent visit by Bishop Daniel Adwok and Bishop Rudolf Deng of Sudan to meet with key Administration officials and a number of members of Congress, Sudan is getting more attention. A number of members of Congress are now contacting the Administration about this issue. In addition, Special U.S. Envoy Scott Gration met with the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC), of which the Catholic Church is a member, to listen to their concerns.
Reduce Nuclear Weapons and Enhance Child Survival: We urged members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to support the Global Security Priorities Resolution (H.Res. 278) which would use savings from nuclear weapons reductions to secure nuclear materials from terrorists and to support child survival programs in developing nations, a real “swords into plowshares” initiative. The Committee has not yet acted. If your representative is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, please continue to express your support for this Resolution.
You can find out if your Congresspersons co-sponsored particular legislation and how they voted on particular legislation by entering the bill number at www.congress.gov. We hope that during the Congressional recess that ends on September 12 you will visit or contact your Congresspersons to thank them for their support when appropriate and to ask for their support on other issues.
Thank you for your continued advocacy in support of human life and dignity!
Office of International Justice and Peace
Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
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