Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates

Action Needed on Climate Change to Address Global Hunger and Food Security
Aging Resources
Bishops Urge Senate to Remove Abortion Amendment from Defense Bill
Jesuits Promote Sustainable Development in Oregon
National Defense Authorization Bill and Abortion Funding
Senate Fails to Advance Tax Extender and Jobs Bill
Senator Franken Introduces Legislation to Protect Children During ICE Raids 
Support Renewable Energy

Action Needed on Climate Change to Address Global Hunger and Food Security
Aging Resources
Bishops Urge Senate to Remove Abortion Amendment from Defense Bill
Jesuits Promote Sustainable Development in Oregon
National Defense Authorization Bill and Abortion Funding
Senate Fails to Advance Tax Extender and Jobs Bill
Senator Franken Introduces Legislation to Protect Children During ICE Raids 
Support Renewable Energy 

Action Needed on Climate Change to Address Global Hunger and Food Security
Development and Peace/Caritas Canada’s Executive Director Michael Casey urged “G8 and G20 countries [to] show the necessary leadership to reverse disastrous food policies of the past. Aid commitments must also be met. We need more aid, better spent. And we need to see effective action on climate change.” Caritas Internationalis advocates for increased adaptation funding to address threats to food security caused by climate change.  Casey continues, “Rich countries must commit $195 billion additional public financing per year by 2020 to support poor countries to adapt to climate change and to develop sustainably. There must also be a commitment to keep global warming well below 2°C.” Read full article here. 

Jesuits are Promoting Sustainable Development in Oregon
The Society of Jesus in the Oregon Province produced a Regional Sustainable Development: A Plan of Action.  It defines Sustainable Development as:
a commitment to respect and care for the community of life. It is economic growth that promotes the values of human rights, care for the natural world, and the striving for the common good of the whole earth community, especially the poor and most vulnerable. It involves sustaining the present generation without imposing long-term costs or penalties on future generations. It replaces the use of non-renewable resources with renewable ones and reduces the consumption of all resources. It entails reuse, recovery, and recycling wherever possible; and replenishment or restoration of the natural balances affected by our actions.

The Plan addresses the challenges of individualism, consumerism, materialism, and secularism and proposes a Catholic Model and Vision for the human and natural community. Read the entire Plan of Action here.  

Advocacy Efforts 

Bishops Urge Senate to Remove Abortion Amendment from Defense Bill
Current law states that military health care facilities may not be used to perform elective abortions (10 U.S. Code Sec. 1093(b).  This policy was first established administratively in 1988.  Now an attempt is being made to repeal this policy.  To read more about this legislation, see: www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2010/10-125.shtml  or  nchla.org/docdisplay.asp?ID=339.

National Defense Authorization Bill and Abortion Funding
An attempt is now being made to repeal the longstanding policy that military health care facilities may not be used to perform elective abortions (10 U.S. Code Sec. 1093(b)). During markup of the defense authorization bill for FY 2011 (S. 3280), Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) offered an amendment to strike this policy from current law. On May 27, the committee approved this amendment, 15-yes, 12-no.

S. 3280 is expected to be on the Senate floor after the July 4 recess, which takes place during the week of July 4-9.  An Action Alert has been issued on this matter.  Click here to log in and send your message.  Contact Senators Nelson and LeMieux encouraging them not to reverse this long standing policy against abortion funding.    

Both the Most Reverend Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, have sent letters to the U.S. Senate, urging that the defense authorization bill not be approved until the Burris Amendment is reversed and the current law upheld. 

Send a message to Senate: Support Renewable Energy 
The awful oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a wake-up call: it is time to shift energy investment away from drilling for oil and gas and toward energy conservation and clean renewable alternatives. We believe our nation’s farmers can help deliver on this crucial and necessary shift. Farmers and ranchers can deliver by generating clean, renewable power such as solar, wind and biomass while also reducing on-farm energy consumption. 

For this to happen, the U.S. Senate needs to act. We can send a message to our senators asking them to move on a progressive energy policy. Besides actively engaging our nation’s farmers in helping to meet our energy needs, we believe this will contribute to our economic recovery as well. 

American Farmland Trust has created a webpage to help you send a message to your senators. 

Senate Fails to Advance Tax Extender and Jobs Bill
On June 24, the U.S. Senate failed to advance “The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010” (H.R.4213).  This is the third attempt by the Senate to pass this bill. The House passed its version on May 28. Late on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) decided to pull the measure from the Senate floor after Democrats failed to gather sufficient votes to end debate on the bill and move it toward a final vote for passage.  This last attempt came after several weeks of negotiations and modifications to the package to contain cost. 

The legislation under consideration contains a number of important provisions that will assist the families served by Catholic Charities agencies including:

  • $2.5 billion to extend the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund through fiscal year 2011;
  • $1 billion to capitalize the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF). The NHTF was originally created in the “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008” to provide much needed housing opportunities for those with the lowest incomes;
  • $1 billion to support an estimated 300,000 jobs for youth through summer employment programs;
  • An extension of extra federal Medicaid assistance to states; and
  • An extension on expanded Unemployment Insurance and COBRA subsidies.

It would continue the poverty line hold harmless policy which would ensure that the current poverty line for federal income-based programs can be no lower than the poverty line of 2009.  It would also extend for one-year enhanced charitable deductions for contributions of food inventory, the tax-free distribution from individual retirement plans for charitable purposes, and an enhanced charitable deduction for corporate contributions of computer equipment for educational purposes. 

The negotiation in the Senate collapsed over the cost of the package, a lack of identified revenues, and the potential impact on the federal deficit. 

Read more about this legislation.  

Senator Franken Introduces Legislation to Protect Children During ICE Raids 
On June 22, Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) introduced the “Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children,” a proposal that aims to keep children safe, informed, and accounted for during Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. According to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service, 108,434 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported over the past 10 years. 

As introduced, the bill would:

  • Require that schools, states, and local authorities are notified before or soon after a raid occurs;
  • Allow child welfare and non-governmental agencies to screen and identify parents with children;
  • Allow detainees to arrange care as well as allow daily calls and regular visits with their children;
  • Allow detainees to contact their children prior to being transferred;
  • Protect children from witnessing their parents’ interrogations and/or translating on behalf of ICE agents;
  • Require authorities to assist detained parents with family court proceedings affecting their children; and
  • Require ICE to take into consideration the best interest of children in detention, release, and transfer decisions affecting parents.

The future of the legislation is uncertain as the bill has not received bipartisan support. Similar legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Lynn Woosley (D-CA). 

Catholic Charities USA is supportive of the legislation and will provide updates as the bill moves through the legislative process. 

Aging Resources

Cool website www.investorprotection.org  provides independent information to help consumers make informed investment decisions.

Prescription Help – Under a new law, more Medicare beneficiaries could qualify for Extra Help. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp/.

Video Streams – The International Council on Active Aging offers streaming videos on topics related to aging. You can even share your news and knowledge. Visit www.icaa.tv.

Transportation Report – The American Public Transportation Association has released a report that looks at 2020 and 2030 demand and funding needs. Visit www.apta.com  and search for “Funding the Public Transportation Needs of an Aging Population”.

Transportation Discussion – Easter Seals Project ACTION will host a two-week, online event during which participants from across the country will have the opportunity to discuss issues pertaining to ADA and senior transportation services. It’s July 26 – August 6. Visit: www.easterseals.com/dialogue.

Senior Drivers – A new report found that older driver crash rates have sharply declined from 1997 – 2008. Visit www.iihs.org and search for “status”.