A new Congress, a new hope to end hunger and poverty


By Sergio Mata-Cisneros

The election is over. The people have spoken, electing the former Vice President Joe Biden to become our nation’s 46th president and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as the next Vice President and the first Black woman and first Indian American. 

We congratulate President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and all newly elected officials in Congress.

In this election, more than 160 million Americans cast their ballots in the midst of a global pandemic—many over mail-in ballots or early voting, setting the highest voter turnout in more than a century. In particular, young adults turned out to be higher than in previous elections in response to climate change and racial justice issues.

The new session of Congress whose members take office in early January will be the most diverse in history, with a record number of women and LGBTQ people, and more ethnically and racially diverse. Not all races have been called yet, but the Democrats will remain in the majority keeping control of the House. It is unknown which party will control the Senate until the Georgia runoff election, set for January 5. The Republicans currently have the advantage with 50 seats and the Democrats with 48 seats but gaining one seat.  

The next year, with a new administration and Congress, looks to be promising for programs that help people struggling with hunger and poverty. Bread expects bipartisan support in Congress to increase funding for domestic and international anti-poverty programs. The incoming administration has expressed support for expanding household SNAP benefits by 15 percent during this time of economic hardship.

The Senate returned this week to Washington after the election for the “lame duck” (final session), and the House is set to return next week. With not much time left before the next legislative session, Congress must work on passing a spending bill to fund the government by December 11 to avoid a government shutdown before the holidays. 

Also, a new coronavirus relief package is much needed to help those facing hunger and poverty due to COVID-19. The pandemic is disproportionality affecting Black, Indigenous, Latino, and other communities of color. Leaders from both the House and Senate have said that a COVID-19 bill must be done in the lame-duck. 

Bread for the World will continue to prayerfully and vigorously urge Congress in the lame-duck session to meet the needs of people by prioritizing the following in the COVID-19 bill: increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15 percent and providing no less than $20 billion for international assistance for the U.S. global pandemic response.

Next year, with a new president and Congress, we are looking forward to building new relationships and working in a bipartisan way to pass legislation that ends hunger here in the United States and abroad by 2030.

Sergio Mata-Cisneros is an Art Simon Fellow at Bread for the World.

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