Washington Update: Week of August 7

Washington Update

The Senate left for August recess last week. Congress will reconvene after Labor Day, Sept. 5. Fresh Bread will resume a week after Congress reconvenes.

Budget & Appropriations

  • September will be a critical time for Bread for the World’s 2017 Offering of Letters: Doing Our Part to End Hunger. Congress will have until the end of September to raise the debt limit, finalize yearly spending (appropriations) bills, and pass a bipartisan budget deal that raises the yearly spending caps on defense and non-defense spending.
  • The Senate is expected to be pressing forward on a 2018 budget resolution in committee in September, but House Republicans remain divided over cuts to entitlement programs.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants to use the new budget for a tax-code overhaul this fall using a procedure that bypasses the need for a supermajority. The quickest way forward would be for the Senate to mark up its own budget after recess rather than waiting for the House to send one over.
  • The Senate is also expected to take up the State/Foreign Operations appropriations bill in committee in early September. The bill appears to currently have bipartisan support.
  • As for the debt ceiling, House Freedom Caucus continues to push for spending cuts to be attached to a $1.5 trillion debt ceiling increase. The estimated three dozen caucus members would likely vote against a clean debt ceiling increase. It’s possible that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will need to work with Democrats on a clean increase.


  • Last week Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, called for an open bipartisan hearing on health care. Since Congress failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, some senators and representatives are now working on a bipartisan basis to address concerns with the health insurance markets.


  • The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment or RAISE Act (S. 354), introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), will drastically reduce legal immigration to the United States. The RAISE Act will cap refugee admissions and cut total immigration in half by eliminating diversity and cutting family-based visas. It will also create a new visa system that awards points to potential immigrants based on such characteristics as English proficiency and higher education.
  • It will also create additional barriers to immigrants seeking to become naturalized Americans, and preventing those who have used health care or other help with basic needs from becoming citizens and penalizing their sponsors. By punishing families for simply needing health care and other support, the proposal directly contradicts Bread for the World’s immigration principles.
  • We will not support the RAISE Act. Neither will we support it as a legislative vehicle to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act or to bypass protections currently provided for in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act.

Act Now!

Members of Congress have returned to their home states and districts, leaving behind unfinished business such as the budget for fiscal year 2018. What lawmakers hear from constituents like you this month will impact the decisions they make.

Engage your lawmakers while they’re home for August recess! Visit Bread for the World’s Activist Corner for the latest updates and resources.



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