Advocacy, Catholics Confront Global Poverty

Election Season Advocacy Update

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in our work to confront global poverty! Following the August recess, Congress returned to Washington, DC in mid September to wrap up business before the November election. Here is an update on the issues you’ve been working on:

The Good News: Poverty-focused International Assistance Funded Adequately for Next 6 Months
Congress passed legislation that continues funding U.S. government expenditures until March 27, 2013. Known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), funding levels for all programs-including poverty-focused international assistance-was increased by 0.6%. Thank you so much for working so tirelessly to protect poor and marginalized people by fighting for this lifesaving and life-changing aid.

The passage of the CR is good news for our brothers and sisters around the world who will continue to receive vaccinations for their children, access to clean water and sanitation and basic education that will help lift them out of poverty. Thanks in part to your calls and e-mails you demonstrated that there is wide support for poverty-focused international assistance.

The Bad News: 2012 Farm Bill Remains up in the Air

Congress adjourned before finishing its work on the Farm Bill, which expires on September 30, 2012. While the Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill in June, the House of Representatives did not consider its version before recessing because cuts to the domestic food stamp program (known as “SNAP”) proved too divisive.

As for international food assistance programs authorized by the Farm Bill, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) maintains that all existing programs that fight hunger overseas will be fully funded until the CR expires next March. However, there are questions about whether or not new anti-hunger programs will be able to launch as of January 1, 2013, including those that respond to hunger emergencies brought on by natural disasters.

We are seeking guidance on these issues with congressional offices and the Administration to ensure that people who are hungry get the food they need to survive. We expect Congress to consider Farm Bill-related legislation after the November election. Stay tuned for more to come on this issue as your voice will certainly be needed to speak out for our brothers and sisters who are hungry and poor.

Looking Ahead

After the election, it is also likely that Congress will take up issues related to “sequestration,” a process that requires significant cuts to U.S. discretionary spending, including poverty-focused international assistance. We will continue to urge Congress to take bipartisan action to address future unsustainable deficits that considers revenue, defense and other unnecessary spending, and just and fair entitlement reform rather than disproportionate cuts to programs that serve poor and vulnerable people here at home and overseas. Stay tuned and ready to act.

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