By Tom Chapman
The summer recess from Aug. 5-Sept. 9 is a great opportunity to contact your member of Congress and ask him to promote human life and dignity in our nation’s agriculture, immigration and budget policies. The quickest way to do so is visit www.capwiz.com/catholicbishops and send a sample message from the U.S. bishops’ conference on the following issues:
We’ve reached a key point in efforts to achieve immigration reform. The U.S. Senate has passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation by a large margin. The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering whether to address immigration reform legislation that can provide significant relief to millions of people and their families.
We support bi-partisan immigration reform that preserves and protects family unity and provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented persons living in the United States. For more details on our principles for reform go to www.justiceforimmigrants.org.
In addition to sending an email, you might keep an eye out for town hall meetings. They are a great opportunity to make sure your congressman hears from you personally about this issue.
The U.S. House has passed a Farm Bill without including the SNAP (food stamp) program. House leaders have sent the bill over to the Senate and it is anticipated that a conference committee between the House and the Senate will work on a compromise.
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is a crucial part of the Farm Bill. We believe that cuts or structural changes to the program that will harm poor and hungry people should be opposed. The program helps relieve pressure on parishes, charities, food banks and other emergency food providers who struggle to meet the needs of hungry people.
The current Farm Bill expires Sept. 30 and there is some hope the chambers will agree on a compromise.
We support replacing the sequester with a “circle of protection.” It’s time to remind both your Senators and Representative that the federal budget is a moral document with human consequences. The budget for FY 2014 should replace the sequester with a fair and just budget that reweaves a circle of protection around those programs that provide vital services to poor and hungry people at home and abroad.
It may be “under the radar,” but the sequester (automatic across-the-board cuts to federal programs) is hurting people living in poverty. Cuts to programs such as Head Start and Meals on Wheels are keeping families from meeting their basic needs.
Hope in a time of poverty
In order to promote a deeper understanding of the Church’s social teaching in this time of global economic crisis, the U.S. bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development is releasing a series of messages on poverty in the U.S. and today’s economy. The messages are available at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/economic-justice-economy/hope-in-a-time-of-poverty.cfm.
(Chapman is executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference.)