Office of Advocacy and Justice Update

House Committee Holds Hearing on Child Nutrition Reauthorization
Living Will Forums
Minor Sex Trafficking Legislation Introduced
President Speaks on Immigration
Senate Fails to Advance Jobless Benefits

House Committee Holds Hearing on Child Nutrition Reauthorization
Living Will Forums
Minor Sex Trafficking Legislation Introduced
President Speaks on Immigration
Senate Fails to Advance Jobless Benefits

Living Will Forums
Do you have questions about Advance Directives or Living Wills?  Concerns about end-of-life care and Catholic teaching? Confused about designating a Health Care Surrogate?  These and other questions will be answered at an upcoming living will forum by a panel consisting of a Catholic physician, attorney and clergy. Please see below for the dates and times for upcoming forums around the diocese:

Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Celebration, 9:00 a.m., Saturday, September 18
St. Anthony Catholic Church, Lakeland, 12:00 p.m., Sunday, November 14

For more information, click here  or call 407-246-4820.

Advocacy Efforts: 
 
President Speaks on Immigration
Last week, President Barack Obama made an appeal to the public and Congress for an overhaul of the nation’s broken immigration system.  During his speech, the President stated that the gathering of 11 million undocumented immigrants would be “logistically impossible and widely expensive.”  He also recapped what has been done to secure the southern border and mentioned that crime around the southern border is down and that the data reflect a significant reduction in the number of people trying to cross the border illegally
 
While the speech included no new recommendations or offered no timetable for congressional action, it reiterated the President’s commitment and signaled that the White House would push for comprehensive immigration reform which includes strengthening border security, a legal path to citizenship with a requirement to pay a fine and learn English. To view President Obama’s speech, please click here.

Parishes may still participate in the Justice for Immigrants post-card campaign that urges Congress to support comprehensive immigration reform, by contacting the Office of Advocacy and Justice, 407-246-4819. 

Senate Fails to Advance Jobless Benefits
On June 29, the U.S. Senate failed in its latest attempt to extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to jobless workers. Democratic leaders in the Senate failed to gather enough votes to end debate on a scaled down version of the stalled tax extender and unemployment benefits package.  The latest proposal, which was offered as a substitute amendment to the stalled bill, would have extended UI benefits through November 30, 2010. It also included an extension of the homebuyer tax credit that would allow the deadline for closing on a new home purchase to be shifted from June 30 to September 30, 2010. The Senate had identified sufficient revenues to pay for the homebuyer provision, but not the UI extension. After a failed vote to end debate on the substitute, the Senate passed by a voice vote the first time homebuyer extension provision as a standalone measure.
 
The Congress is expected to revisit the jobs creation and work support debate when it returns from the July 4th recess.  The debate will include a number of important provisions that will help the families that Catholic Charities agencies serve including an extension of the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund and new resources to fund youth summer jobs. 
 
Minor Sex Trafficking Legislation Introduced
On June 23, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) introduced “The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010” (H.R. 5575). Representatives Maloney and Smith were joined by 6 cosponsors.
 
The bipartisan bill would create up to 6 grants of $2 million to $2.5 million aimed at preventing the sex trafficking of minors, treating child victims of trafficking, and prosecuting offenders.  The grants could be used for a variety of activities with at least 50 percent going to services and shelter for victims.  The legislation favors a state level approach which brings different authorities and agencies together to combat the sex trafficking of children.  The bill also makes some changes to the National Crime Information Center database reporting requirements with the goal of identifying runaway children that are particularly at risk.
 
Catholic Charities USA makes domestic and international trafficking resources available for agencies to use to help mobilize communities to identify and serve all children who are victims of trafficking.  To access this information, please click here.
 
To access the House version, H.R. 5575, please click here.
 
To access a summary of the Senate version, S. 2925, please click here.
 
House Committee Holds Hearing on Child Nutrition Reauthorization
On July 1, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing to consider the pending reauthorization of child nutrition programs in, “The Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act” (H.R. 5504)
 
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack urged Congress to approve a strong reauthorization, stating that for a variety of reasons childhood hunger was perhaps the biggest issue that must be confronted.  Secretary Vilsack focused on several improvements including an expansion of school breakfast programs, improving consistency in nutrition across schools, improving the quality of the food, bridging the nutritional gaps during weekends and summers, reconnecting children with their food supply, and better education for making better nutritional decisions.  He presented the need for a holistic approach to better nutrition and exercise in children’s lives. Other witnesses included:

• Tom Colicchio, chef and restaurateur, who urged reauthorization of child nutrition programs and stressed the importance of instilling lifetime preferences through education.
• Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow of Welfare and Family Issues of The Heritage Foundation. Rector cautioned against wasteful spending and brought attention to the lack of control group evaluations in current programs.
• James Weill, President of the Food Research & Action Center. He lauded the some of the provisions currently in the package but suggested expansion of areas such as afterschool or summer programs to all states instead of the limited pilot programs currently implemented.
• Dr. Eduardo J. Sanchez, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, provided a picture of the high costs, both financially and medically, of child and adult obesity. He stated that reauthorization will expand current successes to a much wider area and save billions over the next 10 years alone.
• Major General Paul D. Monroe U.S. Army (ret.), a member of the Executive Advisory Council for Mission Readiness, warned about the higher number of youth who are too unfit or overweight to fight and that obesity is not just a health issue, but a matter of national security.
Catholic Charities USA continues to work in collaboration with USCCB, Catholic and other Coalition partners for a strong reauthorization with improvements that will allow more children to access programs both during the school year and when school is out of session.