from the ELCA Advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director
HUNGER TIME LIMITS RULE: To date, the ELCA Advocacy office has received nearly 500 comments from Lutherans to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) opposing efforts to add additional time-limits for receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on women and men without dependents. USDA extended the comment period to April 10th, and the Administration will announce its next steps in the coming weeks. Advocates can share their opinions on adding time limits to food assistance and hunger issues at the ELCA Action Center.
CENTRAL AMERICA TPS: The Trump administration announced last year that it was ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 57,000 Hondurans and almost 200,000 Salvadorans protected by the program. Earlier this month, an updated document on the effects of ending TPS for countries like El Salvador and Honduras was released. The resource, with contributions from ELCA Advocacy and other Latin America Working Group partners, highlights the repercussions of ending the program: from undermining U.S. foreign policy interests to reducing the efficacy of investments in Central America and more. If the practice announced last year is implemented by the administration, those affected will have until early 2020 to return to their native country or risk falling into undocumented status.
GLOBAL FRAGILITY ACT: A bipartisan group of representatives and senators have recently introduced the Global Fragility Act, a bill to address issues of conflict around the world. The bill seeks to improve the capacity of the United States government to identify and address threats to civilians in fragile, conflict-prone regions around the world. In the coming weeks and months, ELCA Advocacy will be working with our partners to build support of the Global Fragility Act in Congress, and we have great hope that the bill will pass if brought to the floor for a vote.
FOREIGN ASSISTANCE FUNDING: For Fiscal Year 2020, significant (at 24%) cuts have again been proposed by President Trump to the International Affairs budget compared to the Fiscal Year 2019 enacted levels. The budget proposal prioritizes defense spending while slashing funds for non-defense agencies such as the State Department, USAID, and other development-focused agencies. It proposes to cut humanitarian assistance funding by 34% despite today’s unprecedented humanitarian challenges.
On March 30th, President Trump directed the State Department to end foreign assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as the administration indicated that these countries have failed to curb immigration to the United States. ELCA Advocacy is monitoring the situation and the impact it will have on the root causes of migration. This a big concern for us. Last year when the president proposed similar drastic cuts to the International Affairs budget, Congress did not go along with that plan. We will be working with Congressional offices to ensure that these proposed cuts do not end up in the final budget bill.
CLIMATE ACTION NOW ACT: Drawing upon the support from a broad constituency including local, state, national and tribal leaders, among them business leaders, consumers, labor and health organizations, House Democrats introduced H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act (Act), on Mar. 27. The Act would prevent federal funds from being used by the Administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Additionally, the Act would call for the president to develop and to make public a plan for the United States to honor pollution reduction commitments made to the international community in 2015.