Success Paves Way for 2012
Bread’s 2011 legislative work
Much of Bread for the World’s 2011 legislative work focused on two tracks—urging Congress to protect annual funding for programs that are vital to hungry and poor people, and influencing the Super Committee’s decisions for reducing our federal deficit.
The efforts of thousands of Bread activists around the country were critical to our successes so far in preventing major cuts to these programs.
Track 1: On Dec. 16, 2011, Congress approved the fiscal year 2012 omnibus bill. Within that omnibus, funding for poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA)—including funding for food aid that passed in November as part of the agriculture appropriations bill—fared well. Total base funding for PFDA in FY12 was $21.3 billion, compared to $21.5 billion in FY11.
“We are very pleased with the level of PFDA funding. It’s a testament to the impact Bread members had in calling for a circle of protection around poverty-focused development assistance,” said Bread president David Beckmann.
U.S. foreign development assistance will continue to save millions of lives by providing medicines to prevent infants from being born with HIV, bringing safe drinking water to poor communities, and preventing millions of children from being malnourished during the critical 1,000-day window from pregnancy to age 2.
Total funding for State Foreign Operations Appropriations and overseas civilian operations in frontline states was $53 billion. These accounts include funding for PFDA. Funding for this account, and subsequently PFDA, continues to be vulnerable.
Track 2: The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee, was charged with reducing our deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The committee had until Nov. 23 to make its recommendations, but it was unable to come to any agreement. So what happens now?
Under the Budget Control Act passed in August, the absence of a deal means we will see automatic cuts for the next nine years. These cuts will total $1.2 trillion and begin in January 2013—over a year from now.
But because of the great work by Bread members and activists, some important programs for poor and hungry people are exempt from the automatic cuts—including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit, child nutrition programs, and Medicaid, among others.
However, other vital programs have no protections—such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), food aid, and international poverty-focused development assistance. These programs are already facing cuts because of the 10-year budget caps Congress enacted in August and are vulnerable under the automatic cuts.
“We’ve won significant victories so far in the bruising budget deficit battle,” said Beckmann. “But we need to continue to protect what we’ve gained—and prevent more cuts to anti-poverty programs in 2012.”