Partial content* expanded from Advocacy Connections: November 2020
ELECTION 2020 AND ELCAvotes: In synods and congregations, through leaders and members, and with ELCA advocacy tools, faith-informed civic engagement has been lively in this unique 2020 election season. ELCA Advocacy staff continues monitoring post-election activity as states with narrow margins could see recounting efforts, protests or litigation over the coming days. Following election season, staff will prepare engagement plans with newly elected members of Congress and will finalize policy priorities for the 117th Congress in 2021.
In social media, blog posts and webinar participation, the ELCAvotes initiative with various collaborators has shared important, non-partisan sourced messages, including encouraging young adult voters, raising awareness of state deadlines for registering and early voting, promoting healthy polling practices, providing response tools for potential voter intimidation and lifting up counting every vote.
COVID-19 STIMULUS AND OTHER “LAME DUCK” SESSION ACTIVITY: An additional COVID-19 relief package urgently must be decided by lawmakers before the holidays and adjournment as a bulwark against economic and health hardships for vulnerable and hungry people. Use our Action Alert to use your voice! All appropriations bills are also now being considered by the Senate.
The clock is ticking to see if appropriation decisions will be moved to the 117th Congress by continuing resolution. Another notable to-do item for the 116th Congress to be revisited before the end of the 2020 session is passing a budget by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown.
OFFICIAL PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT WTIHDRAWAL: On Nov. 4, the U.S. officially left the Paris Climate Agreement. “By exiting the Agreement, the current administration has abdicated its responsibility to work with the rest of the world to tackle the climate crisis,” reads a statement from We Are Still In with which the ELCA participates.
We regret the U.S. decision but resolve to be accountable to God and continue our work as stewards of creation. The incoming Biden Administration has announced its intention to rejoin soon after the inauguration.
ATROCITY PREVENTION: The ELCA continues to advocate within the U.S. government for strengthening of atrocity prevention programs. Use your voice to advocate for the Safe from the Start Act particularly, which expands the ability of the U.S. government to prevent gender-based violence at the onset of humanitarian emergencies.
Recently, advocacy staff participated in a consultation with the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, where we provided feedback and key issue recommendations. Use Action Center tools to urge advancement of policy pieces like the Safe from the Start Act.
PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION ON REFUGEES: President Trump signed a Presidential Determination on refugees on Oct. 27, authorizing a goal for FY21 of only 15,000 people. The new admissions goal is an 18% reduction from the FY20 goal of 18,000, an 80% cut from the historic norm and the lowest target in the history of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
The formal identification followed a Sept. 30 announcement. The new goal was set after significant commentary from refugee advocates and resettlement agencies, including Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and the ELCA, which implored the president to raise the ceiling and allow for greater numbers to be admitted and resettled in the U.S. An Action Alert from LIRS is available at votervoice.net/LIRS/campaigns/77949/respond to add your voice to those objecting to the figure and the impacted lives it represents. More at blogs.elca.org/advocacy/raising-the-refugee-ceiling/.