Please visit your Senator or Representative in the home office and ask them to consider the following issues (for more information on each issue, click on the link):
Issue: Reauthorization of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). [House-passed bill HR 4737; Senate Finance Committee bill awaiting floor action]
- With increasing state budget deficits and new national-security related demands on the federal budget, it is important that work on reauthorizing and improving TANF programs and setting funding levels, especially for child care, be completed this year.
- Stress the importance of passing a bill to improve and reauthorize TANF this year to Senators and Representatives. The Senate Finance Committee's version of TANF Reauthorization (The Personal Responsibility, Work, and Family Promotion Act of 2002i.e., the WORK Act) is expected to come to the Senate floor in September. Urge Senators to support additional resources to meet the child care needs of low-income families, while maintaining the WORK Act's work provisions, and to provide full restoration of benefits eligibility for legal immigrants.
Issue: Faith-Based Initiative, i.e., The Charity Aid, Recover and Empowerment Act (CARE Act)(S. 1924)
- The CARE Act seeks to provide crucial resources to the faith-based and secular charities that serve our needy brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, the Senate was not able to take up the bill before leaving for the August recess.
- Stress to your Senators your belief that it is important to take action on the CARE Act as soon as possible when the Senate returns in September, and urge them to deliver that message to Senate Leadership.
Issue: Minimum Wage (S 2538)
- Senator Kennedy's bill (S 2538) would raise the minimum wage in three steps from $5.15 to $6.65 by January 2004. But without broad support from U.S. Senators, the bill will not be scheduled for a vote.
- Call your Senators and ask two (2) questions: 1) Do you support raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.65 per hour? 2) Will you work to get a vote on S 2538 in this session on Congress? Final step: call or write Thom Shellabarger about the outcome of this conversation: 202-541-3189, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Issue: Innocence Protection Act (a bill to curtail the use of the death penalty). (HR 912, S486)
- Contact Senators to enlist their support for the IPA when the bill comes to the Senate floor in September.
- Solicit support from all of the members of the House Judiciary Committee who are co-sponsors of the legislation and urge them to schedule a vote on the IPA soon after the August recess.
Issue: National Housing Trust Fund (HR 2349)
- The original Housing Bill (HR 3995) goes to the House floor without the National Housing Trust Fund: instead, it offers a new authorization for a dollar-for-dollar match to local housing trust funds.
- However, we anticipate that an amendment to establish a national housing trust fund will be debated on the House floor when HR 3995 comes to a vote in September. Urge your representatives to support the National Housing Trust Fund (original bill: HR 2349) as an amendment to HR 3995.
Issue: Cuba Sanctions/Embargo (HR 5120, S 2740)
- Contact your Senators and urge them to retain the language of the House bill on the easing of travel restrictions, agriculture sales and remittances when the Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill is voted on next month and;
- If any of the conferees (see attached or website: www.usccb.org/sdwp/august) are from your district/state, please make an effort to reach them and reiterate the message to keep the House language when the bill goes to conference.
Issue: HIV/AIDS and Debt Relief
Both houses of Congress will be considering bills for debt relief and foreign aid appropriations in September. Consistent with the bishops' concerns in these areas please urge your Senators and Representatives to:
- Provide at least $3.3 billion over two years to address the health crisis (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria) which is devastating many poor countries in Africa and elsewhere;
- combat HIV/AIDS in a manner that will support and promote behavioral change and responsible and respectful relationships;
- provide for deeper debt reduction so that all countries currently eligible for debt reduction under the HIPC initiative would limit their annual debt payments to no more than 10 percent of government revenues, or in the case of countries suffering a public health crisis, no more than 5 percent of government revenues.