from the ELCA advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Senior Director
Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: December 2021
“HUMAN INFRASTRUCTURE”: The President signed into law the long-awaited Jobs and Infrastructure bill. This paves the way for movement in the Senate on the now House-passed Build Back Better budget reconciliation package with investments of $1.75 trillion in “human infrastructure.” Those investment areas include climate change, housing, paid leave, universal pre-k, expanded child tax credits, immigration reforms and international investments to name a few. Many priorities of the ELCA to create opportunities to overcome poverty, promote peace and dignity, preserve God’s creation and promote racial and gender justice would be advanced.
HOUSING IN FEDERAL BUDGET: As this fiscal year continues with ‘flat level funding’ and no formal budget in place, certain programs, notably housing and homeless assistance programs, will begin to experience constraints on existing vouchers due to rising inflation, housing costs and contract prices. When funding for the federal government was poised to to expire on December 3, and the absence of a prepared budget for Fiscal Year 2022, Congress passed another stop-gap resolution to keep the government open through early next year – the second measure taken since October. Action Alerts encouraging Congress to move now and pass appropriation bills for certain programs are currently active from the ELCA Action Center. As Congress operates through another stopgap measure, it is a critical moment to tell lawmakers that postponing budget talks impact those of us in the greatest need the most.
CLIMATE RISKS: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP26) accomplished a key objective for completing the Paris Agreement rulebook by issuing the Covered Decision, which maintains the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. COP26, also for the first time, began to address loss and damages (those impacts of climate change that cannot be addressed by mitigation and adaptation measures). It established a means for providing technical expertise, knowledge and resources to assist vulnerable developing countries in addressing climate risks via an entity known as the Santiago Network, which is to be funded by richer countries.
CUBA POLICY: With advocacy partners, our advocacy is encouraging an appeal to President Biden urging him to implement a U.S. policy towards Cuba that addresses Cuban humanitarian and economic crisis and restores a policy of engagement between our two countries. Cubans are currently experiencing severe distress related to food and basic medicine shortages, as well as shortages on vital materials to support their efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
IMMIGRATION POLICY PROVISIONS: The House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act includes important immigration provisions. One part of the bill looks to recapture unused visa applications and improve processing, helping immigrant families and American employees. Another would provide undocumented immigrants temporary protection from deportation and work permits, both renewable up to ten years. ELCA advocacy staff joined the interfaith community in urging bold Congressional action on permanent legislative solutions. Senators continue to negotiate and debate the details of the immigration provisions.
In mid-November, President Biden met with Mexico and Canada’s leaders for the North American Leaders Summit (NALS). The meeting reaffirmed a shared interest and approach to regional migration pressures. Emphasizing human rights, leaders committed to protect and expand safe and orderly pathways to migrate whilst investing in human security and livelihoods. These commitments stand in contrast to ongoing punitive and unfounded pandemic-era expulsion policies, like Title 42. Despite profuse advocacy, the Remain in Mexico (MPP) is also expected to restart in early December. ELCA advocacy firmly supports restoring access to asylum and terminating the harmful Remain in Mexico program.