from the ELCA advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Senior Director

Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: August/September 2023



FEMA FUNDING CRUNCH:  As August comes to a close, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) finds itself confronting a dire situation. The agency, responsible for responding to natural disasters in the United States, is on the verge of running out of critical funding – with the strain of coping with an overwhelming series of hurricanes, wildfires and floods pushing resources to the brink.

Witness in Society staff are collaborating with Lutheran Disaster Response colleagues to advance advocacy strategies to raise this as an urgent priority in Congress. As reported by Axios, “FEMA’s disaster fund is projected to fall into the red in late August because of tens of billions of dollars already committed to prior disasters, as well as anticipated costs for disasters that may strike this year. The fund’s deficit may grow to $4.2 billion by mid-September if Congress does not replenish it, according to FEMA’s latest monthly budget report.” This news preceded the devastation and aftermath of the wildfires in Maui.


CLEAN ENERGY TAX CREDITS FOR CHURCHES:  In a July meeting with religious leaders, the Department of Energy announced that billions of dollars in tax credits and grants are available from the U.S. government for churches and other nonprofits to help them become more energy efficient. The money comes primarily from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, but there are also funds from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the 2022 CHIPS [Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors] and Science Act.

Internal Revenue Service information on how churches can take advantage of clean energy tax credits using new options can be found at The Lutherans Restoring Creation network has been referencing “Federal Funding for Energy Work at Houses of Worship” from Interfaith Power & Light. Similarly, the Friends Committee on National Legislation updated in July 2023, “Inflation Reduction Act: Benefits for Houses of Worship.”


ELCA FARM BILL ACTIVITY:  ELCA advocacy has focused Farm Bill efforts on the Pennsylvania delegation, leveraging ELCA presence in the Commonwealth to bring priorities to key decision-makers. All seven Pennsylvania ELCA bishops signed on to a letter to the chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture. The letter to Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15) calls on members of Congress to protect and enhance the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during the Farm Bill reauthorization. Additional letters from the bishops were also sent to Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), and Senators Bob Casey Jr. and John Fetterman of Penn. The 2018 Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of September 2023.


AFGHAN ADJUSTMENT ACT:  The Afghan Adjustment Act (S. 2327/H.R.4627) was reintroduced on July 14. With bipartisan support, the Act now has even more support than when first introduced thanks in part to everyone’s advocacy. The bill supports the ability of Afghans benefitting from temporary humanitarian status to apply for lawful permanent residency and builds on efforts to help other at-risk Afghans. Urge your member of Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act using the Action Alert.

Many faithful people have taken the Bible’s message to welcome the stranger to heart and in action by accompanying migrants and seeking justice for their neighbors near and far. The experience of asylum seekers and vulnerable youth, and borderland conditions, are samples of situations where U.S. policy can demonstrate our values. ELCA faith leaders have provided invaluable insight and support in search of meaningful change.


HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS PROPOSES INTERNATIONAL CUTS:  The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations recently released their FY24 budgets for international programs. The House bill cuts topline funding by 12% in contrast to FY23. The Senate funding bill looks much better overall. The House and Senate will need to reconcile the two bills in the coming weeks. Staff are meeting with various congressional offices asking for protection of funding for anti-poverty and relief programs.

In another development, the State Department has announced that it will provide $61 million in additional humanitarian assistance to support Rohingya internally displaced in Burma as well as Rohingya refugees and their host communities in Bangladesh. The Rohingya rely on dozens of nongovernmental organizations present in the camps to address humanitarian needs, including Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS) Bangladesh, a longtime partner of the ELCA, reports Living Lutheran (6/20/23).


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