from the ELCA Advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director
Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: April 2021
INFRASTRUCTURE PROPOSAL: The White House announced the first of two infrastructure proposals to Congress in late March. The $2.2 trillion “American Jobs Plan” would make largescale investments in the U.S. and pay for most provisions by raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and closing tax loopholes. Faith advocates in the coming weeks will be critical in ensuring that investments prioritize those of us in the greatest need and are equitably shared among groups who often fail to see the impacts of largescale investments.
Among the proposed investments, The plan includes: $621 billion for transportation and resilience, aimed at constructing infrastructure that can withstand climate change-related weather events; $400 billion toward expanding access to care for the aging and those with disabilities; $100 billion to expand high-speed broadband; $213 billion to build, retrofit and preserve more than two million affordable homes; $100 billion to upgrade and build new public schools; $25 billion to upgrade child care facilities and increase child care in high-need areas; $115 billion to modernize highways, roads and bridges; $111 billion to help rebuild the nation’s water infrastructure. A second infrastructure proposal, “American Families Plan,” is anticipated to be released later this month. As these proposals are deliberated by lawmakers in Congress, ELCA staff will advance actionable items for Lutheran advocates.
CHILD NUTRITION: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extended free summer meals through September 2021, providing nutrition for up to 12 million children. Additionally, USDA has extended critical waivers through the 2021–22 school year, facilitating delivery to children nutrition they need through schools and childcare providers.
During the pandemic, food insecurity has increased significantly as families have lost jobs and wages. We applaud these USDA actions, as children in every community in our nation will face less hunger as a result. As shared last month, the Biden Administration has announced it will stop enforcing the public charge rule. This measure also encourages children in the U.S. have access to nutrition they needs, since public charge rule enforcement discouraged accessing public benefits, including SNAP and school meals, for possible threat to the status of legal immigrants.
MIXED REACTIONS TO REFUGEE ANNOUNCEMENT: The revised Presidential Determination (PD) of 62,500 that was announced as a goal for FY21 by the Biden Administration has still not been finalized. After a disappointing announcement Apr. 16 of retention of the standing record-low admissions cap of 15,000, the administration clarified the intent to set a final raised cap by May 15.
While the memorandum issued on the 16th aims to speed up resettlement and return to regional allocations, keeping the lowest refugee admissions ceiling in history raised concern among many in the resettlement community. The anticipated new PD would expand the categories of eligibility for refugee status numbering up to 62,500 from the earlier 15,000. Letters signed by Presiding Bishop Eaton as well as the ELCA with ecumenical and interfaith partners to the administration urge finalization to prevent further resettlement delays.
UIGHUR HUMAN RIGHTS: Last month the U.S., E.U., Canada, and Britain announced targeted sanctions against certain Chinese leaders and entities over human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minority groups in the northwestern Chinese region of the country. There are about 12 million Uighurs, mostly Muslim, living in north-western China.
The sanctions take aim at four senior Chinese officials involved in designing and implementing of the policy being used to abuse Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, and a public security bureau connected to that policy implementation. The sanctions invoke travel bans and asset freezes for these individuals and their families. The U.S. is among several countries to have accused China of committing genocide and crimes against humanity through its repression of the Uighurs.
FAITH GROUPS AND CLIMATE CRISIS: Ahead of the Leaders’ Summit hosted by President Biden, the ELCA played a key role gathering global interfaith leaders for a US Climate Action Week Side Event. “Faith and Frontline Call to Action: Good Trouble for Justice” called for inclusion of voices, ideas, and expertise of frontline and faith communities alongside career politicians toward climate solutions.
Coalition presenters accented climate-induced migration and displacement, food security, and just transition. People of faith and frontline communities hope to work with the administration in repairing inequities and wealth divide locally, nationally, and globally in connecting climate, economic and racial justice to reimagining resilient, inclusive communities void of poverty and leaving no one behind.