Policy Focus: Make Sure that Hungry People Have a Place at the Negotiating Table
Bread’s 2013 Offering of Letters, “A Place at the Table,” is in full swing and your letters and phone calls are influencing Congress. Below is a list of current proposed legislation affecting programs for hungry and poor people.
In April, the House and the Senate passed their fiscal year 2014 budget resolutions and the White House released its budget. Both the Senate’s and president’s budgets would replace the sequester, the automatic across-the-board cuts that started to take effect in March. For more on sequestration basics, see the graphic on the back page of this newsletter and download our fact sheet “The Consequences of Sequestration” from the Bread website.
President Obama’s proposal is based on his last offer to House Speaker John Boehner during the fiscal cliff negotiations. It raises revenue while cutting some entitlements. The president’s budget also includes a proposal for reforming food aid, which could enable up to 4 million more people to be reached with comparable resources while saving approximately $500 million over the next 10 years.
The House and Senate are now negotiating a process whereby a single compromised version of the budget is agreed upon by both chambers. This could provide a path for the grand bargain and a replacement of the sequester.
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee are both moving on tax reform. House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has issued a series of overhaul proposals over the past two years and has promised legislation for a comprehensive rewrite by the end of the year. And Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has been holding meetings with Camp and other Republicans.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) have been topics of discussion within both committees. Bread for the World has sent a letter to the Ways and Means Committee, stressing the importance of these refundable tax credits. Bread members who have senators and representatives on those committees will need to be especially persistent in contacting their members as we continue to urge Congress to increase revenue so we can adequately fund programs that help people who are hungry or living in poverty.
The House and Senate Agriculture Committees are busy drafting their respective farm bills. Both committees are aiming to mark up their bills by mid-May. It is very likely both committees will include cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Last year, the Senate proposed to cut SNAP by $4.5 billion over ten years and the House by $16 billion over ten years. International food aid programs are also at risk. Last year, the Senate included much needed reforms to the programs while the House cut food aid quality programs by over 95 percent. Now is the time to reach out to members of Congress on the Agriculture Committees to voice our support for these vital programs.
Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) recently reintroduced a resolution in support of SNAP, H. Res. 90. This resolution is very similar to H. Res. 760, which was introduced last year and had more than 100 cosponsors. Currently, H. Res. 90 has 102 cosponsors and we are urging more members to sign on to show strong support for SNAP as the Agriculture Committees work on their farm bills.