USCCB POSITION: On March 3, 2006, Bishop Skylstad wrote to members of the Budget Committees in each House of Congress urging them: to give priority attention to the needs of poor and vulnerable people both here and around the world. As President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I want to remind you that budget decisions reflect not only economic policies, but moral choices as well. When setting national priorities, the Congress should seek genuine bipartisan commitment focusing on the common good of all, and especially the essential needs of the poor and vulnerable.
PROSPECTS: It appears highly unlikely that a budget agreement will be reached this year. In mid-March the Senate passed a budget that include a USCCB supported Specter-Harkin Amendment that increases the money available for spending on social service programs by $7 billion. The House on the other hand, is greatly divided and is struggling to come up with a budget document that can pass the chamber which then must withstand both a House-Senate conference committee and further votes in both chambers. The absence of a budget, however, does not necessarily end the budgeting process. The Appropriations Committees (those committees that decide the funding levels for the various federal agencies) can begin drafting appropriations legislation beginning May 15 even if a budget agreement is not reached.
As the budget and appropriations processes unfold, we will be sending you action alerts asking for your assistance and focusing on domestic and international priorities of the U.S. Catholic bishops.
For more information on the budget process, contact Thom Shellabarger: firstname.lastname@example.org.