Category Archives: Budget

Legislative Update: Housing is Infrastructure

Housing is Infrastructure

Jarrett Smith
October 18, 2021

On Tuesday, October 12, I extended my support to Representative Maxine Waters (CA-43) Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee by attending their press conference on housing investments in the Build Back Better plan. During her remarks, Rep. Waters stated: “For decades we have put off making the [housing] investments we needed and just like a bridge that crumbles without maintenance our housing safety net is at its breaking point.”

Of the original $3.5 trillion dollar package, $327 billion is allotted for housing. This transformative housing investment would connect millions of families with the housing assistance they need. Investing in housing is our once-in-a-generation chance to help close the widening racial wealth gap.

With only one in four families eligible for housing assistance actually receives it, homelessness and housing insecurity are becoming a reality for more families in the United States every day. We have a moral call to ensure that every person has stable, affordable housing. As Pope Francis said when he visited the United States in 2015, “we can find no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing.”

Rep. Johnson listed a few of the programs that the Build Back Better Act could fund, including:

  • • $90 billion for rental assistance (Housing Choice Voucher and Project-Based Rental Assistance)
    • $80 billion for public housing repairs
    • $40+ billion for Community Development Block Grants and the HOME Investment Partnership Program

With the Build Back Better plan approaching the October 31 deadline Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer have set for its passage, congressional leadership is considering cuts to the plan to bring the final cost down, but it is unclear which programs’ funding will be impacted.

This week, Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) led 125 lawmakers in sending a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The letter urged them to keep $90 billion for rental assistance, $80 billion for public housing repairs and $37 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund in the final version of the bill.

It is critical to maintain these transformative housing investments in this final Build Back Better package.

Take Action

There is no time to lose. Urge your legislators to keep the proposed housing and community development funds in the final bill.

Call your Representative at 888-738-3058 and tell them to support a bold Build Back Better plan

Watch Live: Keep the Faith, Build Back Better

Watch Live: Keep the Faith, Build Back Better

Right now, what’s happening in Congress is complicated but we are firm in our values and moral vision. Congress has an opportunity to pass a once-in-a-generation investment in our families, communities, and futures. Build Back Better is our chance to rebuild and repair our communities devastated by COVID-19’s impact and decades of under-resourcing.

The next few weeks are critical for both ensuring the Build Back Better legislation is shaped to meet the daunting challenges of our time and that it passes to become law. Right now, your Representative and Senators are in their districts and states until October 18th and they need to hear from YOU! We invite you to join people of faith across the country in taking action while your elected leaders are back home and in the coming weeks.

Advocacy Outreach Ideas:


1. Drop the Build Back Better summary off at your members of Congress offices. Take a photo and share on social media to voice your support for Build Back Better.  Use the hashtag #BuildBackBetter and tag your elected officials when you post the photo on social media.

​2. Write and pitch a letter to the editor at your local paper. Check out this resource  for a step by step guide and messaging to write your letter.

3. Call your Representative to tell them you support big, bold, faithful investments in our communities and to pass Build Back Better. Call 888-738-3058 to be connected to your Representative’s office!

4. Talk to your community about the importance of Build Back Better. This package encapsulates a wide range of policies and can feel overwhelming, so we want to provide you with a concise overview of the faithful priorities in the Build Back Better bill so that you can confidently talk about these priorities with your friends, neighbors, and Members of Congress. Check out this resource for members of Congress to guide your conversations.

Still Advocating a Pathway to Citizenship

Still Advocating a Pathway to Citizenship

Virginia Schilder
September 22, 2021

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee approved the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship in the upcoming budget reconciliation bill. This pathway would allow an estimated 8 million undocumented neighbors — including Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farmworkers, and other essential workers — to apply for permanent residency in the U.S. Without this pathway, there is no way for those 8 million people, who already live and work in the U.S. under threat of deportation, to change their immigration status.

In order to pass through the budget reconciliation process, the Senate parliamentarian must agree that the immigration provisions have a direct fiscal effect. On Sunday September 19, the parliamentarian rejected Democratic leadership’s initial proposal to include the pathway to citizenship, on the grounds that its impact goes beyond the budget — even though that’s true of everything in the bill! This news is frustrating, but not the end of the line for establishing the pathway to citizenship. As we hope the parliamentarian will realize in the forthcoming meetings, the status of immigrant workers and families is acutely relevant to the budget. Moreover, the Senate (even when it has been Republican-controlled!) has included immigration provisions in the budget reconciliation before.

The COVID-19 public health crisis has made our nation’s reliance on immigrants and their labor even more visible than before. More than 5 million undocumented immigrants have been risking their lives as “essential workers” throughout the pandemic.  To call immigrant workers in front-line jobs “essential” to the functioning of the U.S., while failing to provide them with the basic safety and dignity of a secure immigration status, is hypocritical, exploitative, and unjust.

Yet the necessity of creating a pathway to citizenship is about more than labor: it is about human dignity. The millions of undocumented immigrants in our communities have a right to protection not because of their valuable economic contributions, but because of their invaluable humanity. Pope Francis (himself the son of an immigrant) affirmed this in his message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees:

“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women, and men who leave or are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”

Catholic teachings have long affirmed the rights of immigrants and refugees and the responsibility of nations like the U.S. to welcome and support them. Pope Francis and the U.S. Bishops, alongside Catholic Sisters and laity in the U.S., have made responding to unjust immigration policies a priority of the 21st century. Our call to protect immigrants and their families draws not only from Church teaching and lived tradition, but also from the myriad scriptural references to the treatment of migrants:

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (Leviticus 19:33-34, NIV).

At the core of our faith is the command to love our neighbors as ourselves — and immigrants are our neighbors, integral to the fabric of our communities. Immigrants and their families are made in the image of God, with loves, hopes, and rights, and deserve according treatment. No one should have to live in constant fear of being ripped away from their family, home, job, and community. As human beings, we all have a right to safety, and those with security have a particular obligation to ensure the security of others.

Creating a path to citizenship is a moral imperative, full stop. But passing a budget reconciliation bill that offers a way to citizenship for many immigrants will also boost economic growth, create jobs, and increase wages for all people in the U.S. This makes clear that promoting the good of our immigrant neighbors promotes the good of everyone. Catholic Social Justice, especially the principle of the common good, teaches us that we live in an interconnected society in which individual and communal flourishing are inseparable. Pope Francis expressed this idea directly to U.S. lawmakers during a joint session of Congress in 2015:

“Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”

When we treat our immigrant neighbors as human beings with intrinsic and immeasurable dignity — which includes taking structural action to ensure their care and protection — our society becomes more humane for everyone.

After the recent federal district court ruling in Texas threatening DACA, the need to create a path to citizenship is increasingly urgent. Luckily, an overwhelming bipartisan majority of voters — including Independents and Republicans — support Congress creating a pathway to citizenship. What’s more, the budget reconciliation process only requires 50 Senate votes to pass.

NETWORK calls on all Senators to support including a pathway to citizenship in the recovery package. If we are truly committed to protecting workers, families, and those who are most marginalized by our systems and structures, then we must pursue just immigration policies. Including a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation will help ensure that our recovery is equitable and humane. Now is the time to align our policies with our values and enact a path to citizenship.

Read NETWORK’s press release following the release of the Senate Parliamentarian’s initial guidance.

Increasing Access to Health Care for Millions in Build Back Better

Increasing Access to Health Care for Millions in Build Back Better

Julia Morris
September 22, 2021

This week, Congress is negotiating increasingly urgent policies to extend access to health care as part of the Build Back Better plan. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care is a growing concern for many living in the United States, especially the tens of millions of people who are uninsured. In communities already facing long-standing health disparities: low-income, elderly, Black, Brown, and Native American – increasing access to healthcare will save lives.

Access to health care is a moral issue; with some moderate Democrats and most Republicans looking to cut large portions of this bill it could result in adding to the toll of needless lives lost in the pandemic. Congress must include all of the healthcare provisions in the Build Back Better plan to ensure all people living in our nation have access to quality, affordable, and equitable health care.

Here are key policies to keep your eye on:

Extending Healthcare Subsidies in the American Rescue Plan

Coverage under the Affordable Care Act is too expensive for many families, especially with many in the U.S. seeing lower earnings in 2020. By extending the American Rescue Plan’s cost savings, we can lower health care costs for those getting coverage through ACA.

Medicaid Expansion in Four Key Areas

Millions of Americans, especially low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities rely on Medicaid. Expanding Medicaid in these four areas is key to addressing long-standing racial and economic disparities in coverage and access to care.

Non-Expansion States

A large portion of those who rely on Medicaid are spread throughout 12 states who have refused to expand Medicaid. This leaves two million people without insurance, in spite of support from a majority of states’ residents and overwhelming evidence that expansion will create significant improvements in coverage, health outcomes, and financial security.

Providing Medicaid Coverage for Incarcerated Individuals

Giving states the ability to expand Medicaid programs to cover incarcerated individuals 30 days before their release would tackle the disproportionately high rates of mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and chronic physical health conditions seen in people who have experienced incarceration. Closing care gaps would provide stability during this important transitional period.

Closing the Gap in Medicaid Funding to the U.S. Territories

Territories do not receive Medicaid funding, instead they are given a fixed block grant that often does not cover their healthcare needs. Congress needs to renew Medicaid funding in territories to ensure that everyone in the United States can access quality, affordable care no matter where they live.

End the Waiting Period for Immigrants to Access Medicaid and CHIP

Lawfully present immigrants must live in the U.S. for five years before being able to access Medicaid and CHIP. This harmful waiting period prevents millions of people and families from having access to quality, affordable care. We should not put limits on who is or is not deserving of health care.

Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act Investments

Historic investments from the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act will save lives, build healthy families, end racial and ethnic maternal health disparities, and further birth equity in the United States. The Momnibus Act aims to do this by strengthening federal maternal health programs, will make federal funds permanently available for states to spend on expanded postpartum Medicaid and CHIP coverage to one year in every state, with full state plan benefits throughout pregnancy and the yearlong postpartum period.

Expanding home-based care options

Providing funding for home-based care options impacts the elderly community and people with disabilities. Expanding home-based care options also aims to address our nation’s growth in its elderly population — failing to invest in care will strain an already understaffed workforce of caregivers; stress children trying to care for their loved ones; and complicate retirement for millions.

As Pope Francis said: “A health service that is free and guarantees good service accessible to all … This precious good should not be lost. It must be maintained and everyone should be committed to this. Because everyone needs it … ” Failing to ensure that these healthcare measures make it through Congress would be detrimental to the lives of millions. Building back better after the incredible loss of the last two years is going to push us to reject thinking that encourages us to ignore the suffering of others.

Passing a Faithful Recovery Package to Build Anew

Passing a Faithful Recovery Package to Build Anew

Allison Baroni
August 4, 2021

On July 13, 2021, the Senate announced that it had reached an agreement on a $3.5 trillion recovery package to be passed through the budget reconciliation process. This package, which is based on President Biden’s Build Back Better vision, together with the $1 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the gross inequity and lack of federal investment in our communities and infrastructure.

Congress has a responsibility to meet the moment, respond to the needs and demands of the people, and make a once in a generation investment in our public infrastructure. To do so, Congress must include the following priorities in a bold, faithful recovery package:  

  • Ensure any national paid family and medical leave program has progressive wage replacement, job guarantees and anti-retaliation language, inclusive definitions of family, and centers women of color in all decisions to ensure racially equitable access.  
  • Make the new Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit expansions permanent and ensure all immigrants, regardless of legal status, can access the Child Tax Credit and human needs programs.  
  • Establish a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants including Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and essential workers.  
  • Enact a set of federal standards for Unemployment Insurance (UI) including mandatory 26 weeks of benefits, adequate replacement wage levels (i.e. 75% of wages up to 2/3 of the state’s average wage), and ensure that unemployed workers’ access to benefits is racially equitable. 
  • Provide resources for multi-year rental assistance and address the ongoing unmet need for affordable housing by building affordable housing units. 
  • Make the broadband subsidy permanent to increase access to health care and other critical needs in communities across the country. 
  • Close the Medicaid coverage gap for non-expansion states and provide Medicaid to people who are incarcerated. Finance health expansions by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. 

As always, we will hear critiques that these priorities are too costly. Yet the human cost of not making these needed policy changes is far higher than $3.5 trillion could ever be. Far from a simple policy decision, the choice to include or reject these policy priorities has far-reaching consequences for the lived experiences of those in the United States. For every refusal to include these policy priorities, families in the U.S. face dire circumstances and decisions. 

 Behind all the political rhetoric, lies a simple and important question that we as a nation must answer: who are we beholden too? In Pope Francis’s most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, he reminds us of the answer to that question. Reflecting on the story of Cain and Abel, he writes:  

“Cain kills his brother Abel and then hears God ask: ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ (Genesis 4:9). His answer is one that we ourselves too often give: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ (ibid). By the very question he asks, God leaves no room for an appeal to determinism or fatalism as a justification for our own indifference. Instead, he encourages us to create a different culture, in which we resolve our conflicts and care for one another.” (57)   

We are at a tipping point. As our nation races toward devastating income inequality, inadequate access to health care, and a dearth of quality affordable housing and living-wage jobs, the breadth and depth of the policy response necessary can at times seem daunting. It can be all too easy for us to turn away from the task, to absolve ourselves of our responsibility to one another.  

But, as Pope Francis says, if we are to build a culture of care, it must be done. Congress cannot afford to pretend that bold and immediate action is not necessary to improve and protect the lives of everyday people: the neighbor whose home is in danger of flooding, or the one who never had one to begin with. The parent struggling to pay childcare and the relative unable to access health care.  

These everyday struggles are the result of policy choices. The question facing Congress can be reduced to this: Will we choose to be a nation that refuses to take care of its own, one that accepts poverty as inevitable? Or will we challenge that lie, asserting that no cost is too high to take care of each other? If we listen honestly to God’s question to Cain, we will find that there is only one answer! 

 

Allison Baroni is a rising senior at Villanova University where she studies Peace and Justice & Theology. Allison is a member of the NETWORK Government Relations team this summer. 

NETWORK Calls for Just Response to COVID-19

NETWORK Calls for a Just Response to COVID-19

This webpage will be updated with the latest developments as the United States faces the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge all elected officials to prioritize those who are most vulnerable and those at the economic margins as they respond to this crisis.

Share your story with NETWORK

Tell us what you, your family, and your community are going through. We will make sure our nation’s elected officials know what families across the country are experiencing, and advocate for policies that heal our nation, not further harm.

Friday, April 24, 2020
President Trump Signs Coronavirus Package Aimed At Small Businesses

Today, President Trump signed the latest COVID-19 related legislation, the result of negotiations between Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Schumer. The agreement provides nearly $500 billion in interim funding to small businesses, to hospitals, and for COVID-19 testing. NETWORK supports this funding, but there is still significantly more work to be done to make our nation healthy.

Read NETWORK’s press release after the agreement was reached. Also, continue signing up to “meet” with your Senators’ offices to communicate our priorities for additional legislation — including more funding for SNAP, unemployment insurance, and more!

Monday, April 20, 2020
Take Action: Congress Is Home, Working On Additional COVID-19 Legislation

While Members of Congress remain in their districts, there is still much that remains to be done to address the suffering caused by COVID-19 in the United States. Our priorities for the next legislative package include: protections for immigrants and additional support for individuals experiencing homelessness, incarceration, or food insecurity.

Now, we need to communicate those priorities to our Senators. Sign up here to schedule an in-district phone meeting with your Senator(s) or their staff.

Monday, April 6, 2020
NETWORK Webinar: The COVID-19 Response

On this webinar, NETWORK’s Government Relations team will review the three packages and explain what Congress still needs to do to ensure that all people are cared for and receive access to the medical and financial assistance they need.

Friday, March 27, 2020
Congress passes Coronavirus Economic Package

After critical negotiations, both the Senate and the House have passed the $2 trillion bailout package for workers and hospitals. This package will begin to provide security for many in this time of crisis, while ensuring that no tax-payer dollars go to corporate stock buy-backs or executive raises and bonuses.

Read NETWORK’s press release responding to the legislation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Senate Nearing Vote on Economic Package

NETWORK urges all Senators to vote yes on S.3548, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, immediately. We are pleased this bill includes many of NETWORK’s recommendations and approves much needed funds for hospitals, state, and local governments; extends unemployment insurance for workers; and puts conditions on business assistance, in the interest of workers and the economic stabilization and financial security of their families. In short, this bill puts people first

Read the letter NETWORK sent to Senators.

Monday, March 23, 2020
Political Leaders Still Have Not Reached Agreement on Economic Stimulus Plan

Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue negotiating a $1.6 trillion-plus emergency rescue package, hoping to reach agreement and pass a bill before the end of the day. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is releasing her own plan today.

Read more from Politico.com.

While the negotiations continue, NETWORK and our advocacy partners supported Members of Congress who signed onto a letter written by Representative T.J. Cox (CA-21) calling for immigrants to be included in access to COVID-19 testing and treatment regardless of immigration status.

Read the letter.

Friday, March 20, 2020
Economic Stimulus Negotiations Continue

Following Senate Republicans’ release of their proposed economic stimulus package yesterday, Senators from both parties were in negotiations to come to an agreement before midnight tonight. This afternoon Senate Finance Democrats proposed their own legislation. Negotiations are ongoing — call your Senators now using the phone number above and tell them to support workers and families in this economic stimulus package!

NETWORK calls for Congress to:

  1. Issue full value cash assistance to low- and moderate-income individuals and expand the EITC and Child Tax Credit to more low-income households;
  1. Strengthen, expand, and modernize Unemployment Insurance in order to provide higher benefits and greater flexibility, account for the changing workforce (such as the gig economy), and cover workers who may lose their jobs or face new caregiving responsibilities due to the virus;
  2. Boost nutrition benefits and flexibility for all households receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  3. Increase Medicaid funding for states by fulling covering the state share to adequately address the increased demand for health care and related costs;
  4. Increase homelessness assistance funding. Individuals experiencing homelessness are at increased risk of serious infection because they often live in congregated communities (like shelters and encampments), cannot self-quarantine, and often lack access to running water and other methods to prevent infection;
  5. Expand paid sick leave for every person, regardless of employer or employer size;
  6. Give special care and attention to individuals at increased risk of infection, including incarcerated individuals, immigrants and children in detention, tribes and Native communities, and people experiencing homelessness;
  7. Require funding for corporations to be focused on ensuring that people continue to be paid and receive benefits. Strong guardrails need to be in place to ensure that families and those who need it most get assistance and that companies in the future do not recklessly profit off of taxpayer funding at the expense of workers; and
  8. Expand federal funding for Tribes and Tribal Organizations for robust health services access in Indian Country.

Additionally, regarding the individual payments proposed in the Republican plan, ITEP estimates that only 20% ( $215 billion) out of a $1 trillion bill would be spent on individual payments, demonstrating that the Republican stimulus chiefly benefits businesses.
Read more from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Thursday, March 19, 2020
Third Package Negotiations Heat Up

The Senate is rapidly writing their third response package and needs to hear from you now.  Please call using the phone number above. Right now, Senator Mitch McConnell is leading the GOP in the Senate in developing the “economic stimulus” package. Our concern is that they are not correctly viewing what KIND of stimulus is needed since this is not a “normal” market crash and will have unknown, long-term impacts on peoples’ lives.  They need to understand that people oppose another big-business bailout predicated on trickle-down economics.

While the need to address industry-wide economic fall-out is important, stimulus aid must have conditions attached to ensure that workers are supported rather than only subsidizing financial markets or corporate profits. In 2008, the federal government provided hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street to respond to the financial crisis, with no strings attached. The results for Wall Street were tremendous – a quick return to profitability, large executive compensation packages, major stock buy-backs, and more. The results for working families were disappointing, and most never fully recovered. Financial support this time should be targeted and contingent upon maintaining protections for workers.

Direct benefits to low- and moderate-income households is a powerful and effective economic stimulant. We support a targeted measure to support households most in need. A payroll tax cut does not make sense for this crisis, but refundable tax credits targeted to low- and moderate-income individuals and families could have a powerful stabilizing effect. Expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit would give families and individuals additional relief over time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
NETWORK Priorities for Third Coronavirus Package

After finalizing the first two packages responding to coronavirus, the Senate focuses on a third package, an “economic stimulus” package. NETWORK supports including the following financial supports in this economic stimulus. Read all of NETWORK’s recommendations for an economic stimulus package here.
To support people:

  • Target rebate checks and refundable tax credit to low- and moderate-income individuals
  • Strengthen, expand, and modernize Unemployment Insurance and paid medical and family leave
  • Boost nutrition assistance
  • Increase homelessness assistance funding
  • Halt evictions and foreclosures
  • Give special attention to at-risk communities

To support states, municipalities, and health care:

  • Increase Medicaid funding for states and stabilization funds for Community Health Centers and critical related programs

To support business:

  • Ensure federal funds given to support businesses reach workers
Senate Passes Families First Coronavirus Response Act, President Trump signs it into law

The Senate voted to approve the Families First Coronavirus Response Act with a 90-8 vote. President Trump signed the bill into law Wednesday evening.

Read more from www.nbcnews.com.

Monday, March 16, 2020
NETWORK Recommends Senators Vote Yes on H.R.6021

At the conclusion of a 3-day Senate recess, NETWORK sent the following vote recommendation to U.S. Senators calling on them to pass H.R.6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Read NETWORK’s Senate vote recommendation.

Saturday, March 14, 2020
House Passes Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R.6021)

In a letter to all Members of Congress, NETWORK urged Congress to ensure coronavirus testing is affordable, expand paid sick leave, increase assistance for low-income workers and families, and give special attention to groups with increased risk of infection in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Read NETWORK’s letter to Congress.

President Trump’s Budget Fails to Mend the Gaps… Again

President Trump’s Budget Fails to Mend the Gaps… Again

NETWORK Government Relations Team
February 14, 2020

We believe the budget is a faithful, moral document that should reflect our values as a nation. Unfortunately, the President’s FY2021 budget that came out earlier this week does not do this. President Trump’s budget proposes$4.8 trillion in drastic cuts to non-defense discretionary spending for vital federal agencies, including a 37% spending cut for the Department of Commerce and a 15% cut for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This will increase the gaps between the wealthy and the impoverished in our nation.

President Trump’s budget abandons the most vulnerable in our nation by reducing funding for fundamental social safety net programs. The budget would increase the number of uninsured people in the United States, cut desperately needed assistance for low-income families, and invest almost nothing into our nation’s dilapidated infrastructure. It is time to mend the racial and income gaps in our nation. We cannot accept this immoral and divisive budget proposal from President Trump.

Once again, President Trump lays out a budget that provides a preferential option for the rich while gutting critical programs proven to lift people out of poverty. His budget would give an additional 1.4 Trillion dollars in tax breaks to the wealthy paid for by cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and other safety net programs.  This is sinful.  We must heal the wounds of economic and racial injustice with those facing systemic exclusion and oppression. We echo the words of the Prophet Isaiah who warned the corrupt rulers of his time, “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.”

The president’s budget proposal lays out another hopeless roadmap that offers no relief or clear pathway to prosperity for disheartened working families. The proposal includes $4.4 trillion in steep cuts to nondefense spending over 10 years, starting with $42 billion for FY2021 to offset increased funding for defense and immigration enforcement. This president fails the moral test of great leaders to care for those with the least among us– the 99% of the country who are over-worked, under-valued, and under-resourced.  We must expect more from our leaders and urge Congress to reject this budget by investing in affordable housing, health care, Medicaid, SNAP, and fair elections.

Here’s how President Trump’s FY2021 budget proposal would negatively impact the Common Good and widen the gaps across our nation:

Endangers the health care of the most vulnerable in our nation by attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and by imposing deep cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.

  • Proposed cuts of $1 trillion in Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA over the next ten years
  • Implements mandatory work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries
  • Ends Medicaid expansion for states that have opted to expand coverage. This will eliminate care for the 13 million people who secured care from the expansion
  • No proposals for an ACA replacement plan if it is struck down by the Supreme Court
    • This will lead to elimination of the ACA’s protection against discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and the ACA’s requirement that health plans cover essential health benefits

Implements irresponsible and discriminatory immigration policy.

  • Requests $2 billion to build 82 miles of border wall, plans to divert an additional $7.2 billion from other accounts, and brings the total allocated over Trump’s term to $18 billion.
  • Includes $3.1 billion for 60,000 beds, in ICE detention centers, an increase of 6,000 beds from last year’s budget.
  • Adds $182 million to hire 750 new Border Patrol agents, a quarter more than last year, and $544 million to double Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff.
  • Calls for a 3.2-percent increase in funding for the Department of Homeland Security to carry out immigration enforcement and family separation, but cuts the Department of Justice by 2.3-percent for all federal law enforcement
  • Requires Social Security Number for public benefits
    • Discriminates against non-citizen residents who do not have a Social Security Number

Increases income inequality and racial wealth disparities through more tax cuts for the 1% and drastic cuts to safety net programs.

  • Permanently extends the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for high-income taxpayers
  • This will cost $1.4 trillion through 2030 for tax breaks for the wealthiest in our nation
  • Cuts SNAP by $182 billion (30% of the program) over ten years
  • Cuts basic assistance for those with disabilities through Social Security Disability Insurance
  • Reduces support for families experiencing poverty by cutting the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program by $20 billion over ten years
  • Eliminates the Social Services Block Grant

Decreases security in our nation’s elections.

  • Cuts the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency that secures our nation’s voting machines, by 14%
  • Diverts $1.1 billion on cybersecurity spending from the Federal Election Commission to the Department of Homeland Security

Inadequately invests in our nation’s dilapidated infrastructure.

  • Proposes $190 billion in one-time funding for a new infrastructure initiative
    • This investment in our nation’s housing and infrastructure is a short-term fix for a long, expensive problem
    • It will not be enough to adequately address our nation’s housing problem
  • Cuts various infrastructure programs that support highway, mass transit, airport, and port infrastructure through discretionary appropriations
  • Weakens community efforts to enable families to secure housing free from discrimination and fight housing policies that restrict housing access

President Trump continues to promise that he will protect the health care of working families, but his FY2021 budget proposal is just another attack on care for our nation’s most vulnerable. The Trump administration continues to gut the backbone of our nation’s social safety net by slashing funding for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as through continued attempts to enforce Medicaid work requirements. Also, by attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no suitable replacement, President Trump continues to jeopardize the lives of millions who rely on the ACA for quality and affordable care.

President Trump’s proposals shown above illustrate his misaligned priorities. Every dollar spent in carrying out punitive immigration policy, is a dollar less in critical human needs programs, serving communities across the country. President Trump is requesting a huge windfall for agencies that police, detain, and separate families, but neglects food security programs, health, and more. President Trump’s FY2021 budget is a statement of values, which show that the president is more concerned with funding his border wall than serving the people of the United States.

What Congress Needs To Do Before 2020

What Congress Needs To Do Before 2020

Ness Perry 
December 11, 2019

December is shaping up to be a big month for Congress. Before the end of the year, there are a few crucial issues they must act on.

Funding the Government

Congress has until December 20, 2019 to prevent a shutdown. Last year’s government shutdown hurt government employees and hindered federal spending alike. A budget for FY 2020 must be confirmed before December 20 or risk another shutdown.

While the House allocated zero additional funds for DHS border enforcement, the Senate’s funding bill includes a $5-billion-dollars for additional border enforcement. We applaud the House for putting human rights first by voting to allocate no additional funds to DHS. Senate Democrats also voted against giving more money to be DHS. In order to avoid a shutdown, lawmakers must either agree on all 12 spending bills (including DHS) or pass another continuing resolution (CR). A full year CR would result in $100 billion dollars less in funding for federal programs.

Regarding impeachment, Senate Republicans could use impeachment as a bargaining chip and refuse to vote on a spending bill until their demands on impeachment are met.

Trade

USMCA negotiations have just reached agreement. Speaker Pelosi and President Trump were previously negotiating on mechanisms to enforce labor regulations as well as pharmaceutical companies’ ability to include provisions for biologic drugs, which would make it harder for competitors to put generic versions on the market. Lastly, they had to reach agreement about worker protections. Now that the deal has been made, President Trump needs to sign the agreement before the winter recess so that it doesn’t drag on into 2020.

VAWA Reauthorization

Over six months ago, the House passed H.R.1585, a bipartisan bill to re-authorize and improve the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Now, the legislation has reached an impasse in the Senate. Democrats and Republicans have both introduced legislation to reauthorize VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) after attempts to reach bipartisan agreement faltered. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a Senate version of the House VAWA reauthorization passed with bipartisan support(S.2843).

This bill closes the “boyfriend loophole,” extending existing gun restrictions to include dating partners, which has attracted opposition from the NRA. The bill also expands protections for LGBTQ+ people and Native Americans. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) authored her own bill in the Senate, which does not include these provisions. It is unclear if Senators Feinstein and Ernst will come to an agreement before 2020. We must pass VAWA reauthorization to protect and support all survivors of sexual violence and we continue to advocate with them at the center of our politics.

Census

Congress allocated funding for the 2020 Census at $7.3 billion for the year. This amount will apply until the end of the current continuing resolution, on December 20. Congress must act to retain full Census funding in order to make sure everyone is counted.

Health Care

H.R.3. (The Lower Drug Costs Now Act) is expected to get a rules committee markup early this week, and will then receive a full floor vote later on in the week. An amendment by Texas Representative Lloyd Doggett (TX-35)would allow people without insurance to access the lower drug prices negotiated. Through the demand of moderate Democrats in the House, this provision was unfortunately omitted. It is unclear if this amendment will make it into the final version of the bill.

Taxes

We are hoping to see a short-term expansion of credits under the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. More than 5 million workers not raising children aged 19-67 would no longer be taxed into, or deeper into, poverty each year. Furthermore, improvements in the CTC to make it fully refundable for all families would lift nearly 2 million children above the poverty line. But, it is unknown at this time if Congress will act before the end of the year.

Immigration

The House Rules Committee will hear the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 this week, which will establish a special citizenship status for certified agricultural workers. A floor vote of this bipartisan bill is expected on Wednesday afternoon.

NETWORK FY 2020 Appropriations Updates

NETWORK FY 2020 Appropriations Updates

Appropriations Bill
House
Senate
Subcommittee Committee Floor Subcommittee Committee Floor    Reconciled?
Labor-HHS-Education (H.R.2740) Passed
(April 30)
Passed
(May 8)
Passed
(June 19)
Transportation-HUD (H.R.3163) Passed
(May 23)
Passed
(June 4)
Passed
(June 25)
Passed
(September 17)
Passed
(September 19)
Passed
(October 31)
Commerce-Justice-Science (H.R.3055) Passed
(May 17)
Passed
(May 22)
Passed
(June 25)
Passed
(September 24)
Passed
(September 26)
Passed (October 31)
Financial Services Passed
(June 3)
Passed
(June 11)
Passed
(June 26)
Passed
(September 17)
Passed
(September 19)
Department of Homeland Security Passed
(June 5)
Passed
(June 11)
Passed
(September 24)
Passed
(September 26)

Friday, November 22, 2019

Yesterday, President Trump signed a short-term funding bill into law, temporarily preventing a government shutdown. This Continuing Resolution (CR) funds the government until December 20, 2019. Before then, the House and the Senate need to reach agreement on funding the government for Fiscal Year 2020, which they have yet to do, or risk a shutdown. We are disappointed our elected officials still have not found a way to pass a full year budget that promotes the common good, nearly two months into this fiscal year.

There is good news, however, in funding for the 2020 Census. In the CR, the 2020 Census received a special funding boost of $7.3 billion to prepare for the upcoming national count. This amount is $2 billion more than the insufficient funding President Trump’s budget would have allocated to the Census and will allow the Census Bureau to adequately plan and put plans in motion for the upcoming Census.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

On October 31, 2019, the Senate passed its first “minibus” or package of four appropriations bills, which included funding for Transportation-Housing and Urban Development as well as Commerce, Justice, and Science. The bill passed out of the Senate by a vote of 84-9. In the four-bill package, the Senate included $6.7 billion for funding the 2020 Census, which is $1.37 billion above the president’s budget but $804 million lower than the House approved level. The minibus bill also included an increase of $1.37 billion for affordable housing programs, which is $6.352 billion above the president’s budget but $941 million lower than the House approved version.

We are deeply concerned that the uncertainty around the FY 2020 appropriations cycle will cause undue hardship on census activities and more than 80 safety net programs. Particularly, the 2020 Census is at-risk to be woefully ineffective if lawmakers fail to negotiate a final agreement on spending allocations by the November 21 deadline. Currently, lawmakers are negotiating details of another continuing resolution that will extend funding through December 13 or 31.

To that end, NETWORK urges the Senate to Prioritize our Democracy: fund the 2020 Census, do not short change human needs programs for the border wall, and extend expiring health care programs. These programs serve the common good and provide critical support to communities; continued funding lapses will have devastating rippling effects.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Yesterday, Congress and the Trump administration reached agreement on a 2-year budget deal to raise our nation’s spending limit. The main points of debate were the Trump administration’s desire for significant spending cuts, and Congressional Democrats’ desire to curb the administration’s ability to transfer federal funds to finance the construction of a border wall.

This deal would raise spending by $320 billion over existing caps and raise the debt limit to allow the government to keep borrowing money. Spending on domestic and military programs would both increase, a key demand of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. This increase is offset by $77.4 billion in spending cuts, half the $150 billion in cuts the White House initially demanded. By lifting spending caps for the next two years, this deal will effectively dissolve the “sequester” imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) which was written to take effect through 2021. This is a huge relief, as NETWORK and partners have been fighting sequestration that leads to cuts to human needs programs every year since the BCA was passed.

Now that the budget deal is agreed upon, the House of Representatives needs to act quickly and pass the budget bill before they leave for August recess next week. The Senate has been waiting for a budget deal before beginning its appropriations work, so we may see the Senate appropriations bills beginning to take shape soon.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The House passed the Fiscal Year 2020 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill on a 224 to 196 vote. In total, the bill includes $24.55 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $1.4 billion over the 2019 enacted level and $355.5 million over the President’s 2020 budget request. Additionally, the bill includes a provision to increase Federal civilian pay by 3.1% in 2020.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Today, the House passed its second “minibus” or package of spending bills, this time including funding for Transportation-Housing and Urban Development as well as Commerce, Justice, and Science. In the $383 billion five-bill package, the House included language to block a citizenship question on the 2020 Census and bar the Department of Justice from using federal funds to dismantle Obamacare in the courts. The final vote was 227-194.

Before the vote, NETWORK sent the a vote recommendation to the House in support of the funding package. Read the vote recommendation here.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Today, the House began consideration on another package of spending bills, this time including Transportation-Housing and Urban Development as well as Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations. The House is expected to vote on this package tomorrow. These appropriations bills are critical to provide funding to housing programs serving millions of families and the Census Bureau to execute a fair and accurate census.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tonight, the House of Representatives voted 226 – 203 to pass a package of four appropriations bills, including Labor-HHS-Education appropriations. These appropriations would provide critical funding for the Office of Refugee and Resettlement and support for children at the Southern Border. We encourage the Senate to pass similar appropriations to care for vulnerable children and families at the border.

Before the vote, NETWORK released a statement encouraging members of the House to vote yes on the package. Read NETWORK’s statement of support here.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Right now, Congress is working on federal budget appropriations for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020). This process is critical because the result determines how much funding federal programs that mend the gaps receive for the following year.

Appropriations Background

Members of Congress decide our nation’s federal budget every year through a process of writing 12 different appropriations (or spending) bills before the annual fiscal deadline of September 30. The process begins in the House after the President submits a budget proposal to Congress for consideration (which is usually rejected all or in part by Congress). House and Senate Appropriations Committees draft and modify spending bills through a series of committee votes before advancing the bills to the full House or Senate for another round of votes.  Typically, the House and Senate bills are not identical and thus must be reconciled before sending a final bill to the President for enactment.

However, in recent years due to partisan politics over spending allocations, many of the spending measures bypass floor debate after committee action and are instead consolidated into an omnibus or minibus spending bill.  Above, you can see the progress of the bills that include NETWORK priorities.

This year, the appropriations process has added uncertainty because there has not been any agreement between the House and the Senate on overall funding levels. This sets up a future showdown with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and President Trump on one side and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the other; likely coming down to the amount of funding President Trump wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border or other controversial issues.

House Appropriations State of Play

So far, the House Appropriations Committee has passed 10 of the 12 appropriations bills. These 10 bills are now ready for votes on the House floor. The committee expects to complete their work on all 12 appropriations bills this week. Democratic leaders want to pass all the appropriations bills on the House floor by the end of June to allow time for negotiations with the Senate before the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

They plan to do this by first passing a package of five bills (totaling nearly $1 trillion in spending), which they began considering this week. Passing this package of bills could take several days. The package includes the two biggest appropriations bills: Defense (HR 2968) and Labor-Health and Human Services- Education (HR 2740) as well as the Energy-Water (HR 2960), State-Foreign Operations (HR 2839) and Legislative Branch (HR 2779) bills. After this five-bill package, House Democrats plan to combine the remaining seven bills into additional packages.

Homeland Security and Financial Services appropriations bills will be taken up by the House full appropriations committee this week. NETWORK is following Homeland Security appropriations closely and calls on appropriators to reduce funding for deportation, immigrant detention, and border militarization and instead to prioritize alternatives to detention, implement robust Congressional oversight over Homeland Security practices, and support refugee resettlement and asylum seekers.

Another NETWORK funding priority is Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) appropriations. This bill, as it emerged from the House Appropriations Committee included $7.5 billion in new funding for the 2020 Census, as well as a restriction against using the Census appropriations to fund a citizenship question on the Census questionnaire. The House CJS appropriations bill also restricted funds from being used to be used to hire more immigration judges, and instead would establish a pilot legal advocacy program for nonprofit organizations to provide legal representation to immigrants seeking asylum and other forms of legal protection in the United States.

Of course, federal housing programs, which are included in the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) appropriations bill, are a NETWORK focus. While President Trump’s budget proposed cutting Housing and Urban Development funding by $9.6 billion, the House Appropriations Committee’s bill provides a total of $50.1 billion for HUD, an additional $5.9 billion over the FY19 funding.

Senate Appropriations State of Play

Appropriators in the Senate have held off working on any of their bills so far. They are waiting while talks proceed on a budget deal to set overall spending levels.

On Tuesday, June 11, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and other Republican appropriators met with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought. They discussed making a budget deal with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown or automatic spending cuts in October, and have agreed to proceed with bringing the President’s $4.5 billion southern border humanitarian aid package to the floor next week.

Updating Tax Policy in Public Education Works Toward Racial and Economic Justice

Updating Tax Policy in Public Education Works Toward Racial and Economic Justice

Daniela Zelaya
October 29, 2019

Every year, our lawmakers decide where they are going to spend taxpayer dollars. The past few years, the administration has unfortunately decided to cut funds for welfare programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, Social Security Income, housing assistance and a few others. Along with cuts to the welfare system also goes the education system. Last year, entire school systems around the country had to go on strike due to lack of funding. In fact, the Washington Post declared 2018 as ”The Biggest Year for worker protest in a generation.” They not only went on strike for their unfairly low salaries, but also for the overall lack of support from the government to fund public schools.

 

As many know, funding for public schools comes in many ways but mostly derives from property taxes. In turn, public schools benefit when they are in areas where property values are high. However, it is the opposite in areas where property values are not as high. That tends to be in areas with a high population of low-income families and families of color. As a result, teachers in these schools earn less and receive less and outdated resources for their students. No matter how much the Every Student Succeeds Act and the Common Core State Standards aim towards closing the achievement gap, the education of minority and low-income students is still incomparable to the education of white wealthy students. It is hypocritical for the United States government to want its students to rank high in comparison to the rest of the world but refuse to support their education. That is why this tax policy should be updated to create another mode of funding for the public education system in the United States.

 

A popular critique from people is that the government cannot just throw money at issues and expect them to be solved overnight. But governmental institutions cannot run properly without sufficient funding. Creating modern tax policies that reroute money into education helps teachers, students, the community, and the country as a whole.

 

Increasing teacher wages means giving them more time to prepare their lessons because they will not have to go to their second job after school or on the weekends. It will also give them the time to be able to pursue their master’s degrees to become even more effective teachers. Additionally, it will encourage more high school students to become teachers and pursue a traditional four-year education degree.

 

Additional funding for schools can also provide for opportunities to coach new teachers through their first two years. For most rookie teachers, the first year is the “survival” year. During this year, teachers stay at school until nine at night trying to figure out how they can improve things the next day. Because of this, some burn out and leave the teaching profession, leaving classrooms full of children without a teacher. Resources that provide a mentor to first year teachers are valuable and are mostly being implemented in alternative teacher preparation programs, like Teach For America. However, it should be offered to proper public-school teachers who have already been trained for four years.

 

Changing tax policy to reroute money into public schools is an option to help the future of the United States, no matter where children come from or what their family’s socioeconomic status is. A modern way of funding education would prevent the system from exclusively helping students from white and wealthy families.

Daniela was born in the city of San Salvador, El Salvador. She came to the United States at the age of 3. As an undocumented person, and as the first person in her family to attend college, she understands the idea that a quality education should not be a privilege, it is a human right. She is currently a senior at Trinity Washington University, double-majoring in Early Childhood Education and Sociology. Daniela hopes to one day become the first Latina U.S. Secretary of Education.