from the ELCA advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director
Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: March 2021
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN: Passage of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed by President Biden on March 12, was shaped by input of many constituents, including Lutheran voices. Thank you for your advocacy!
ELCA federal priorities for advocacy action were emphasized through many individual, leadership and coalition actions. Elements in resulting legislation of critical issues, emphasized in our advocacy for a stronger and more equitable recovery, are expanded in “Provisions in the American Rescue Plan.”
GLOBAL COVID-19 VACCINATION: President Biden recently announced the U.S. will contribute $4 billion to COVAX– a global vaccine initiative which is co-led by the World Health Organization. Two billion of those funds were scheduled for distribution at the end of February, the remaining two billion will be distributed in the coming months and through 2022.
PUBLIC CHARGE RULE BLOCKED: On March 9, the 2019 Public Charge Rule was blocked permanently nationwide. The rule was found to increase the likelihood of families forgoing applying for benefits like SNAP, Medicaid and public housing out of concern for the consequences on a family member’s immigration status application. Many Lutherans shared public comments opposing the rule when it was introduced.
“The 2019 public charge rule was not in keeping with our nation’s values,” said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary. On social media, @ELCAAMMPARO reflected, “No one should have to agonize over whether to apply for needed support, especially during a time like now when we’re steadily working towards a national recovery. Immigrant families can feel safe applying for benefits for which they are eligible.”
EVICTION MORATORIUM: A federal judge in Texas last month ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium issued by Congress is unconstitutional. Though no injunction was set in place, the current moratorium is still set to end this month, impacting millions of families and presenting immense challenge to church shelters already stretched thin nationwide.
The interfaith advocacy community has redoubled efforts. Nearly 2,300 organizations, including the ELCA, and elected officials signed onto a letter urging President Biden to extend the federal eviction moratorium beyond its March 31 expiration and to improve and enforce its protections.
COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS: Community Health Centers (CHC’s) across the country are important access points for affordable and quality healthcare. As part of the federal COVID-19 response, the administration has launched a vaccine distribution program through CHCs to better reach identified individuals experiencing homelessness, migrant and seasonal. farm workers, and people with limited English proficiency.
A list of Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program participants near your congregation or ministry is available from hrsa.gov. These health centers provide care to millions of patients annually in medically underserved rural and urban areas in the U.S., including patients who lack health insurance, minorities, and other vulnerable groups of people. The injection of $7.6 billion for CHC in the American Rescue Plan will expand the capacity of these providers to serve in their communities.