The Episcopal Agenda

Today, all day, we'd like to give our readers an opportunity to read and discuss the Episcopal Church's activities on Capitol Hill. This agenda, shaped by our General Convention, is an attempt to do what we pledge to do in our Baptismal Covenant: to "seek and serve Christ in all persons" and to "strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being."

From the Office of Government Relations:

As Congress gets back into gear for the spring, we wanted to give you an update on some of the issues that we will be watching and that you can expect to see in future EPPN Alerts.

[Editor's note: To receive alerts become a member of the Episcopal Public Policy Network. To read previous alerts, visit the archive.]


Federal Jobs Bill: The House of Representatives passed the Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 that includes extensions of unemployment insurance, COBRA subsidies, and Child Tax Credit, grants for youth employment and worker training and placement in high growth emerging industries, and additional funding for AmeriCorps and National Service Trust. The Senate will draft a scaled-down version of the legislation.

Financial Services Reform Bill: The House has passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 which would overhaul the regulatory structure of the financial system and create a stand-alone regulatory agency Consumer Financial Protection Agency to regulate the system. This legislation is pending in the Senate.

Climate Change: The House of Representatives passed a ground breaking climate change bill last year. The Senate is awaiting a new compromise climate change proposal from Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

2011 Federal Budget: The President and Congress will submit proposed FY2011 Federal Budget that will focus on deficit reduction and increased homeland security funding. This may affect human needs funding, and we will keep you informed about opportunities for advocacy.

Tax Bill: This year House and Senate tax committees will have to make a decision on expiring tax cuts which will create an opportunity to advocate for income support programs targeted towards low-income communities, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

2011 Federal Appropriations: The annual appropriations bill will address the range of domestic human needs, including health, welfare, and employment. We will be watching this process closely.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization: This year brings reauthorization of the school lunch and breakfast programs and the Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program.

Reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program: We have worked on this issue in the past, and it is time again for reauthorization of the basic federal welfare program. It will likely be a one-year extension until the Congress can do a comprehensive 5-year reauthorization.

Employee Free Choice Act: The plan to ease the process for electing union representation was put off because of health care reform, and it appears prospects for its consideration are slim at this time.

Immigration and Refugee Policy Reform: Comprehensive Immigration Reform will be reintroduced this year. It will likely include: legalization of undocumented immigrants, reform of visa programs, reform of the family reunification system, and new enforcement of immigration laws.

We will continue to work on humane and just immigration reform that reflects the commitment of the Episcopal Church on this issue. With the 30th anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980 this year we expect legislation directed to reforming the asylum system and the refugee resettlement program.


Foreign-Aid Reform: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs is moving forward with efforts to reform U.S. foreign-aid programs in order to better prioritize the fight against deadly poverty around the world.

The Senate is moving at a slower pace and in a slightly different format, but progress continues to be made. The Episcopal Church has been actively engaged in working with lawmakers in both chambers as this major legislation is shaped.

Jubilee Act: The Jubilee Act, which provides debt cancellation for countries that need it to meet the MDGs, was reintroduced in the House in December. As you may recall, the House passed similar legislation in 2008 but the Senate ran out of time as the congressional session expired.

Haiti: Legislative advocacy for Haiti, in the wake of this month’s devastating earthquake, will be a significant priority for the Episcopal Church. Two significant policy developments have happened since the earthquake. First, the White House granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian immigrants who were in the United States as of January 12. Second, the International Monetary Fund announced a plan for the cancellation of bilateral and multilateral debts owed by Haiti. (This comes on the heels of a decision by the IMF and World Bank last summer to cancel a significant portion of Haiti’s multilateral debt). We will work in coming weeks to ensure that adequate aid is provided to the Haiti relief and rebuilding efforts.

Comments (4)

Nothing for queer folk. No ENDA, No repeal of DADT, no repeal of DOMA, no Federal recognition of State marriages.

Nothing about international couples. Nothing about Human Rights for queer folk.

Nada, Nope, Nothing.

Something about justice delayed?

Thanks, TEC.

Bryant, I could be wrong, but I think this paper deals exclusively with issues that are currently before or likely to come before this session of Congress. It isn't a comprehensive political platform, so to speak. It is a study of the immediate horizon. That may be the reason you don't see some of the items you mention.

I agree, Jim -- it's highlighting what EPPN thinks will come up in Congress.

Which tells me, the Democratic controlled Congress isn't expected to tackle DOMA, etc. -- all things that have not effect on the budget, but do risk reelection, at least for some Democrats.

As far as what the statement does say, I have a few comments.

1. If both parties in Congress were truly concerned about climate control the single most effective thing to do is raise taxes on gasoline and other fossil fuels (and use the tax revenue to fund some of the other objects listed regarding human needs).

2. On immigration reform I would like to see a reform that lowered the barriers to immigration from the poorest countries -- like Haiti.

3. Specific to Haiti, it's worth noting another thing Congress and the President have already done which is to extend deductibility for gifts to Haiti. Details here,

Bryant, the Office of Government Relations follows the decisions of General Convention. Unfortunately, a resolution to put TEC specifically on record as supporting a repeal of DADT was not passed in 2009 (long story as to why).

However, the Convention passed a resolution (2009-C048) supporting ENDA. ENDA is currently pending in committees of both houses of Congress. Previously the OGR has written this about ENDA: "As people of faith who stand for the equality and dignity of all people, we oppose discrimination against all individuals, including gays and lesbians, for the stamp of the Divine is present in each and every one of us."

Note that GC specifically supported gender identity as part of our ENDA resolution, a step forward for TEC support of transgender people. GC also supported transgender civil rights (2009-D012), and OGR, following on that and other past resolutions of GC, supported the Matthew Shepard hate crimes bill that did pass Congress and was signed into law by President Obama last fall.

Also, the 2009 GC passed D076 in support of immigration equality for gay and lesbian couples. I'm sure OGR is well aware of this and will be guided by this statement when attempts to implement this emerge, whether through immigration reform or some other way.

As John Chilton says, the document is highlighting what they think will be on the agenda for Congress in the next period of time. I am interested in their analysis that EFCA (labor law reform) will not be on the plate (GC passed a resolution supporting EFCA.)

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