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Accomplishments as of the May-June 2010 Recess
Tax Credits for Low-Income Persons
We asked Congress to protect and strengthen key tax credits that make a difference to low-income workers and their families: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and the Child Tax Credit.
STATUS: Both the House and Senate are currently developing tax legislation for consideration this summer, which should include both of these important tax credits. See the current alert here.
Catholics across the country participated in a sign-on letter to urge Congress to provide funding for the National Housing Trust Fund as a way to help communities build and preserve housing for people with the lowest incomes, and to create needed jobs.
STATUS: The Housing Trust Fund is part of a bill now being considered in House of Representatives, The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act (H.R. 4213). See the current alert here.
Health Care Reform
President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law March 23, 2010. The new law significantly reforms health care policy in the United States.
STATUS: While the Act does accomplish important goals supported by the bishops, such as providing coverage to 32 million currently uninsured people, the bishops reluctantly opposed the final bill, because of fundamental flaws in the areas of abortion, conscience protections, and fair treatment of immigrants. For detailed information on USCCB’s advocacy efforts and positions on health care reform, visit www.usccb.org/healthcare.
We are urging Congress to make reform of our broken immigration system a priority. Please continue your advocacy efforts ( www.justiceforimmigrants.org ) during the Congressional recess to ensure that comprehensive immigration reform consistent with Catholic teaching moves as soon as possible.
We asked Congress to include emergency relief and long-term reconstruction in Haiti, as well as funds to respond to humanitarian needs in other parts of the world, such as Sudan, in the supplemental appropriations bill. We also asked Congress and the Administration to create a coherent strategy to help Haiti in the long-term.
STATUS: With your support, Congress passed the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP), which is now awaiting the President’s signature. This legislation extends and improves the trade preferences Haiti was granted through the HOPE Acts. Congress also passed the Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery Act for Haiti (H.R. 4573 and S. 2961) and it is also awaiting the President’s signature. This is a real accomplishment. Way to go, advocates!
We asked Congress to support the Conflict Minerals Trade Act (H.R. 4128) and the Congo Conflict Minerals Act (S. 891) in order to stop the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by reducing the use of illicitly mined minerals by militias to finance the conflict there.
STATUS: Both pieces of legislation are moving through Congress and are seriously being considered. We will keep advocates informed and will ask for your support if we need you to weigh in to help this legislation move further along.
We urged Congress and President Obama to exercise strong leadership for Holy Land peace.
STATUS: The United States is now brokering “proximity” or indirect talks between Israelis and Palestinians, but there is a long road ahead. We need to continue supporting strong U.S. leadership.
FY 2010 Supplemental Budget Request
USCCB and CRS asked Congress to approve $2.5 billion dollars for long term relief in Haiti and $1.597 billion for other urgent emergency needs.
STATUS: Thanks to your efforts, it seems Congress will be generous with regards to Haiti and will meet other urgent needs, but final amounts have not been determined. Passage is expected.
FY 2011 International Affairs Budget
In April, USCCB and Catholic Relief Services sent a letter to House and Senate Appropriations committees urging members to approve the Administration’s modest increase in funding, and to approve select increases in other important poverty-focused programs.
STATUS: The Senate may move to cut the overall international affairs budget by $4 billion, which would devastate poverty-reduction programs. Please act on this alert of May 20, 2010.
We asked Congress to evaluate and refocus U.S. policy and assistance to Colombia.
STATUS: While Congress and the Administration have heard our concerns and have been receptive to our message, no concrete actions have yet been taken. Stay tuned for future updates and possible action on this issue.
We asked Representatives to co-sponsor the Global Security Priorities Resolution, H. Res. 278, to reduce the number of and access to nuclear weapons and prevent their proliferation, and to use savings for child survival programs.
STATUS: Thanks to your continuing advocacy, the resolution now has 34 co-sponsors. In the weeks ahead, we hope to see it moved out of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Advocates in California’s 28th Congressional district are urged to encourage Chairman Howard Berman to report the resolution to the floor.
We also urged Senators to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which reduces nuclear weapons in a verifiable way.
STATUS: Senate hearings have begun, but the process of Senate ratification will take some months, so your continued advocacy of strong bipartisan support of the New START Treaty remains timely.
You can find out if your Congresspersons co-sponsored particular legislation, and how they voted on particular legislation, at www.congress.gov. We hope you will visit or contact your Congresspersons during the May 31-June 6 recess to thank them for their support, when appropriate, and to ask for their support on other issues.
Thank you for your continued advocacy in support of human life and dignity!
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