from the ELCA advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director
Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: May 2021
COVID-19 VACCINE ACCESS | REPARATIONS | UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN AT THE BORDER | JUST TRANSITION PRINCIPLES | AFFORDABLE HOUSING
COVID-19 VACCINE ACCESS: Although a World Trade Organization (WTO) waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, known as the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement, is not finalized, the support for temporary ease of rules announced May 5 by the Biden Administration has potential for India and other nations to increase their access to potentially lifesaving means to stem the spread and severity of this global pandemic.
ELCA Witness in Society staff have been advocating with others to get members of the House of Representatives to also support the waiver allowing increased global access. The ELCA has also signed onto letters urging the U.S. to take this step. More members of Congress in both chambers have publicly expressed their support.
REPARATIONS: H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, is poised for a vote in the House of Representatives – the first time the bill has received a vote since its introduction in 1989. If passed, a 13-person commission would be formed to study the lasting effects of slavery.
That commission would submit its findings, recommendations and suggested remedies to Congress. In 2019, the ELCA Church Council called for action to further “engage in anti-racism and racial justice work, work toward economic justice—including the study of reparations.” The Declaration to People of African Descent adopted by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly that same year offered a public apology to people of African descent which acknowledges that racism and white supremacy are deeply rooted in our history and that the church is complicit. An Action Alert expressing support for H.R. 40 is available in the Action Center, and ELCA staff are continuing to meet with lawmakers in Congress as the bill heads to its first vote.
UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN AT THE BORDER: Though there are fewer unaccompanied children in Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) custody due to more efficient processing, there are still thousands of children in government care waiting to be reunited with family or placed with a foster parent.
Witness in Society staff continue to advocate for highest standards of care for unaccompanied children and families, while advocating against the use of policies such as Title 42 public health order used to expel most migrants. Additional updates are available from ELCA AMMPARO through their @ELCAammparo social media presence and blog.
JUST TRANSITION PRINCIPLES: In work with policy makers, ELCA federal advocacy emphasizes that declining net emissions, while essential to respond to the threat of climate change, are not the only measures that must be considered. Clean energy transition policies should fairly distribute gains and losses.
Some of these themes are explored in the resource “Just Transition to a Sustainable Future” and “Carbon Pricing Basics,” found from ELCA.org/resources/advocacy.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Accessing a safe home is less affordable than ever. The Biden Administration submitted its proposed annual budget to Congress on April 9. Record high numbers of Americans are facing the risk of eviction due to the pandemic, and housing costs are climbing.
As lawmakers negotiate and make determinations for government funding distribution, utilize the ELCA Action Alert facilitating comments to lawmakers in support of funding affordable housing and homeless programs this year.
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