from the ELCA advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Senior Director
Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: September 2022
INFLATION REDUCTION ACT: The president signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, which is the culmination of months of advocacy on important priorities with Lutherans and partners from every corner of our networks. In addition to significant climate provisions, the Act will make health care more accessible for more people by continuing the Affordable Care Act subsidies and allowing the government to negotiate prices for prescription drugs in the Medicare program. It also makes changes to current tax credits that impact some homeowners and car buyers as well as shifts some longtime tax policy, particularly for some large corporations, provisions which also aim to address inflation.
As a result of our sustained advocacy, the ELCA was represented by invitation to the White House by John Johnson at a reception on Sept. 14 celebrating the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Virtual relationships were deepened at this in-person event, including with staff of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
FISCAL YEAR ENDING: The government fiscal year ends on October 1. Should a fully passed budget be absent, lawmakers are preparing a Continuing Resolution to keep federal programs funded. Extended flat funding levels will hurt low-income assistance and housing programs particularly hard due to inflation and the rising costs of housing nationwide.
A Continuing Resolution extension will keep funding levels flat from the previous fiscal year. Hundreds of Lutherans have already contacted their lawmakers in Congress over the past year, urging them to prioritize passing a budget with renewed investments in homeless and housing programs. As October nears, advocates are encouraged to continue taking action with the Action Alert to urge lawmakers to prioritize those investments as soon as possible.
U.S. DISASTER RESPONSE IMPROVEMENTS: The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act (S. 2471) has been included by budget appropriators in Congress as an amendment to a greater FY23 budget bill. It would authorize Community Disaster Block Grant programs, one of the top policy asks of an ELCA Action alert over the last year, among other substantial improvements.
This comes as multiple communities are facing several natural disasters, such as wildfires and hurricanes, and others have failed to see adequate recovery assistance over the last year from the federal government. Though included for now, the inclusion of the amendment is expected to face challenges as the FY23 budget comes to a vote. Advocates are encouraged to take action to ensure the legislation meets final passage.
REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT: The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program has historically been an important foreign policy and migration policy tool, ensuring that the U.S. can receive its share of the global displaced population. So far, the United States has resettled just 20,000 refugees out of a goal of 125,000. The FY23 refugee admission target still needs to be authorized by Congress.
It is expected to retain a goal of 125,000 in FY23. Not including the 20,000 refugees resettled via USRAP in FY22, the country has admitted over 50,000 Ukrainians on a temporary basis through the Uniting for Ukraine initiative and over 79,000 from Afghanistan, many through humanitarian parole. With humanitarian parole, migrants are not guaranteed permanent status or access to many of benefits from other processes. Humanitarian parole has re-emerged as the most used policy option given constraints affecting USRAP and following extraordinary displacement crises like Ukraine and Afghanistan.
WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON HUNGER: In 2020, 38.2 million Americans, including 11.7 million children, lived in homes in which they were unable to always afford enough food. A White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health is scheduled on Sept. 28 presents an opportunity to make ending hunger a national priority.
This is only the second time a conference focused on ending hunger has been held by the White House, following one more than 50 years ago. It has been organized to bring together Americans from all walks of life to accelerate progress in fighting hunger, diet-related diseases and health disparities. Sign up to watch the livestream from https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/white-house-conference-hunger-nutrition-and-health/ .