Congressional Update – 3/29/2011

March 30, 2011 at 5:40 am Leave a comment

Washington Update on the 112th Congress

Inside Washington

  • Congress was in recess last week and has now returned to work in Washington.
  • Members of Congress continue to focus on issues surrounding government spending for the remainder of FY2011.
  • The federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that expires April 8, 2011.

Bread’s Issues

Protecting Hungry and Poor People in Budget Decisions

  • Bread for the World is a leader in a new coalition of organizations urging Congress to form a “circle of protection” around programs for hungry and poor people as legislators address budget deficits.
  • On March 28, David Beckmann, president of Bread; Tony Hall, director of the Alliance to End Hunger; and other advocacy leaders began a weeklong, water-only fast to draw attention to the harm that indiscriminate cuts to non-security discretionary spending would cause hungry and poor people.
  • Beckmann said, “The debate about the federal deficit is really a debate about national priorities. We invite God to reshape our personal priorities and the priorities of our nation.”
  • Bread members and other people of faith and conscience are invited to participate in fasting, other acts of personal sacrifice, and prayer from March 28 to April 3, to urge members of Congress to avoid creating additional hardship for vulnerable people as they make decisions on deficit reduction and other spending issues for 2011 and 2012. For more information, visit www.bread.org/lent2011.
  • About 40 organizations and 4,000 activists have joined the fast. In addition to Bread and the Alliance to End Hunger, they include groups such as Sojourners, NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and Universities Fighting World Hunger.

FY2011 Budget

  • The administration and several congressional leaders have said that the current short-term extension of spending authority should be the last. Congress must reach an agreement that covers federal government operations from April 9 through the end of FY2011 on September 30, 2011, or the government will shut down.

Other Budget Concerns

2012 Budget

  • Work is beginning on the 2012 budget. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has indicated he will release his budget the week of April 4.

Debt Ceiling

  • The U.S. Treasury reports that the United States could reach its debt ceiling (the country’s credit limit) as early as April 15.
  • Once the debt ceiling is reached, the Treasury Department would not be able to borrow money to pay its current obligations—such as interest on the national debt—until Congress raises the debt limit. This has never happened in U.S. history.
  • Many members of Congress have said, however, that they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless it is accompanied by significant spending cuts or controls.

Deficit Reduction Commission

  • A bipartisan group of six senators is working to develop a comprehensive deficit reduction package based on the December 2010 recommendations from the President’s Fiscal Commission.

Act Now

Call your representative and senators and tell them that in reaching a compromise budget for the remainder of FY2011, they must stand firm against budget cuts to programs for hungry and poor people.

Points to Make:

  • In the wake of the economic downturn, these programs are more important than ever.
  • Domestic programs such as WIC, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and Head Start make up only a fraction of the budget. Cutting them will not reduce the deficit and will only create further hardship for millions of families.
  • Global hunger and poverty programs in developing countries account for less than 1 percent of the total budget. These vital humanitarian and development programs save lives and help alleviate the underlying causes of global hunger and poverty—all of which also contribute to greater stability and prosperity at home and abroad.

Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Save the Date!

Please hold the dates for Bread for the World’s National Gathering 2011: June 11-14, 2011, in Washington, DC. We have something new for the National Gathering: an international meeting with experts on reducing malnutrition among the world’s children. Lobby Day on June 14 will also be part of the National Gathering.

Please put June 11-14 on your calendar now.

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Entry filed under: Legislative Updates.

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