Washington Update: Week of November 9

Washington Update

Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567/S. 1252):  We have over 100 cosponsors in the House! Thanks to your persistent advocacy, 103 of your representatives have cosponsored – so far. The Senate bill holds at 10 cosponsors. Last week, during a Feed the Future progress briefing on Capitol Hill, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said the food security initiative was important for U.S. national security. He also noted that evidence shows the programs reduce hunger. “It’s already paid dividends for women and smallholder farmers in developing communities,” he said, ”and the Congress needs to pass the Global Food Security Act to ensure this life-saving works is expanded and improved upon.” You can see if your member is a cosponsor in the House here, and the Senate here.

The Food for Peace Reform Act (S. 525): Reform of U.S. food policy would increase the reach of life-saving food to millions more in need at no additional cost. We are still hoping to see a markup soon in the Senate (S. 525), which has five cosponsors. The bill has not yet been introduced in the House.

The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 3766 / S. 2184): Bread for the World’s 2009 Offering of Letters aimed to make foreign assistance more transparent and effective at reducing poverty. The letters you wrote continue to bear fruit and have helped as we worked behind the scenes on legislation. The transparency bill is moving quickly; just this week, it cleared both House and Senate committees. We hope to see the bill on the floor for a vote in both chambers soon.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization: Legislation authorizing child nutrition policy has expired, although programs continue to be funded. However, we need to continue to push Congress and tell them the status quo is not enough. We updated our email and ask lawmakers to close the child hunger gap; first, by cosponsoring marker bills that reduce summer hunger. Your advocacy is paying off; in the House, we had 27 new cosponsors of the Summer Meals Act (full list for House here and Senate here) in the past two weeks, and 16 new cosponsors to the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act (full list for House here and Senate here).

Budget: Congress passed a 2-year budget deal that raised the debt ceiling until early 2017, and included relief from sequestration – the harmful cuts that were poised to take place. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 established the size of the pie (overall funding) but now appropriators are hard at work, dividing up the available dollars among all the discretionary spending programs. That’s where you come in.  We updated our email to Congress and are urging a tidal wave of messages before the December 11 deadline – the date Congress must pass an omnibus appropriations bill or face a government shutdown.  Programs serving families struggling with hunger and poverty are competing against programs backed by special interests and corporate lobbyists.

Tax Credits for Working Families: We expect to see the earned income tax credit (EITC) and the child tax credit (CTC) extended as part of the tax extenders bill by December 31. The tax extender bill – a popular business and individual tax policy extended each year – must be passed by December 31. Lawmakers may try to make a few popular tax breaks for businesses permanent as a part of that tax extenders legislation. If Congress makes even one tax break for business permanent in any bill, they must also make provisions in EITC and CTC permanent – a message they must hear from advocates. The new chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), will lead the House negotiations. He replaced the former chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is now the new speaker of the House.

Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S.2123): The bipartisan bill, which would reduce overly harsh sentences, alleviating some of the harmful and hunger-promoting consequences that come with long prison sentences, has been gaining support. Bread members should call on their senators and urge them to cosponsor the bill.

Call to Action: Members of Congress must hear from faithful advocates on all of these issues repeatedly. Go to Bread’s action page (www.bread.org/write) and email your members of Congress. Contact your regional organizer for ideas on how to build momentum in your community or set up an in-district meeting.



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