Washington Update: Week of October 26

Washington Update

Global Food Security Act  (H.R. 1567/S. 1252):  We have new cosponsors! The number of House bill cosponsors now stands at 96 – our goal is 100 cosponsors. The Senate bill holds at 10 cosponsors. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to markup their version of the bill soon – possibly as early as next week. You can see if your member is a cosponsor in the House here, and the Senate here. If passed, the Global Food Security Act would codify the Feed the Future initiative into law and become our nation’s strongest tool to alleviate food insecurity globally.

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. The Senate bill (S. 525) is expected to receive a committee markup – possibly as soon as next week – and has five cosponsors. The bill has not yet been introduced in the House.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization: On Monday, we joined our partners at Feeding America, No Kid Hungry, and others for a national call-in day urging Congress to pass a strong child nutrition bill – and thousands of you responded. Legislation authorizing child nutrition policy has expired, although programs continue to be funded. Neither the Senate nor House committees have produced a bill and addressed the child hunger gap by improving nutritional programs. We ask members to continue to call and email lawmakers, urging them to close the child hunger gap.

Budget: Late Monday night, congressional leaders reached a budget deal with the White House, just days before House Speaker John Boehner was scheduled to leave office. The House voted 266-167 on Wednesday to approve the budget. The Senate is expected to vote this week. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 raises the nation’s debt ceiling until March 2017. It also includes relief from sequestration  – the automatic budget cuts that put anti-hunger programs at risk. Overall, we believe this is a very good deal, adhering to the principles we called for. It provides about 90 percent of sequester relief in fiscal year 2016 and a combined 75 percent relief from sequestration cuts for both fiscal years 2016 and 2017.  The additional funding is split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. No anti-poverty programs were cut to pay for the legislation, but they did cut agriculture subsidies. We are urging the Senate to follow the House’s lead and approve the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Assuming the budget passes the Senate, we’ll need to follow up with Congress to ensure some of the additional funding goes to restoring and investing in efforts and programs that help end hunger.

Tax Credits for Working Families: Congress has until December 31 to extend a series of temporary business tax breaks, which expired last year.  Some expect Congress to simply extend all these temporary tax provisions, known as “tax extenders,” for another year or two. Others really want to make one or two of the tax extenders permanent. If Congress makes even one tax break for business permanent in any legislation, Bread for the World will demand they also make the expiring provisions of the earned income tax credit and child tax credit permanent.

Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S.2123): The bipartisan bill, which takes a first step toward reforming our criminal justice policy, advanced in the Senate last week. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill out of committee with a 15-5 vote. Members voting in opposition were Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Ted Cruz of Texas, David Vitter of Louisiana and David Perdue of Georgia. Bread members should call on their senators and urge them to cosponsor and pass 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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