Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter - Federal Action Alerts, June 20, 2013

To: Iowa Catholic Conference Legislative Network

As the weather heats up, the U.S. Congress is working on several pieces of legislation that warrant your attention. 

IMMIGRATION REFORM

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops supports improving and approving S. 744, an immigration reform bill. Please call the “Gang of 8” Republicans and ask them to support the “Little Dreamers” amendments. Here’s their numbers:

Senator Rubio: (202) 224-3041

Senator Graham: (202) 224-5972

Senator Flake: (202) 224-4521

Senator McCain: (202) 224-2235

You may use the following message:

“As an advocate for children, I strongly urge the Senator to support the bipartisan Little Dreamers Amendment, Blumenthal-Murkowski 1327 to the immigration reform bill. The amendment ensures that immigration reform does right by children who are growing up in our country. Supporting Little Dreamers is the right thing to do. 

The Little Dreamers Amendment, gives the youngest DREAMers (currently under age 13) the same path to citizenship as older DREAMers. The estimated 630,000 children who aren’t old enough to have graduated from high school but who meet the other requirements of the DREAM title and are enrolled in school should have access to the same 5-year path to citizenship.

The waiting period is doubled without the amendment:  Under the bill as currently written, these children would have to wait 10 years. 10 years is a child’s entire life, and is too long to wait for the youngest DREAMers.

The Little Dreamers Amendment ensures that immigration reform does right by children who are growing up in our country and deserve the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

To find out why the Catholic bishops support immigration reform go to www.justiceforimmigrants.org.  

FIGHT HUNGER THROUGH THE FARM BILL

The House is expected to take up the Farm Bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee this week. The House plan proposes reducing agriculture funding over 10 years by close to $40 billion. This includes a dramatic cut of over $20 billion to SNAP and over $5 billion in cuts to conservation programs.

The House proposal also calls for ending some subsidies (direct payments) and this is a step in the right direction, but the Catholic community urges further reductions and targeting of subsidies.

We are asking that U.S. House members oppose drastic cuts to hunger programs, support hungry people, promote stewardship of creation, and assist small family farmers. Please click here to go to the action alert and sample message for ...

The Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill on June 10 which included cuts of over $4 billion to SNAP and nearly $6 billion to conservation programs over ten years. The Senate bill also maintained the current structure for international food aid and development programs. Some improvements were made in the Senate bill, such as ending of direct payments and a cap on crop insurance subsidy premiums for farmers earning more than $750,000.

HOUSE PASSES ‘PAIN-CAPABLE UNBORN CHILD PROTECTION ACT’

The U.S. House recently passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act by a vote of 228-196. The bill would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The Obama Administration has indicated he would veto the bill if it passes both chambers and its prospects are uncertain in the Senate. We’ll keep you posted as national action alerts are issued.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, urged support for H.R. 1797. The revelation of Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s crimes committed while providing abortions has “led many Americans to realize that our permissive laws and attitudes have allowed the abortion industry to undertake these procedures.” People are repulsed “by the callous and barbarous treatment of women and children in Gosnell’s clinic, and in other clinics that abort children after 20 weeks. 

Some children in Gosnell’s clinic were “born alive and crying or screaming in pain, until their lives were intentionally and deliberately ended.” These procedures also pose serious dangers to women, “as evidenced by Gosnell’s own manslaughter conviction for one woman’s death, and news about the death or serious complications of other women undergoing such procedures.”

Many women were sent to Gosnell by other abortion clinics. The Cardinal asks: “What does it say about us as a nation, if we will not act against abortions that even full-time abortionists find abhorrent?”

I am pleased that the House took a stand in favor of protecting as many lives as possible.

FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM

The U.S. bishops have called for a Fortnight for Freedom, a two-week period of prayer and action, to address many current challenges to religious liberty, including the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, Supreme Court rulings that could attempt to redefine marriage in June, and religious liberty concerns in areas such as immigration and humanitarian services.

The 2013 Fortnight for Freedom starts tomorrow and goes through July 4.

Archbishop William Lori, chair of the bishops' ad hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, said there are three reasons for this year's fortnight:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court's expected ruling on marriage could have grave implications for religious freedom.
  • The Aug. 1 deadline for complying with the HHS mandate will be a month away. We are still a ways away from the relief we are asking for through the regulatory process.
  • The fortnight offers the opportunity to highlight a full range of ongoing religious freedom issues such as immigration, adoption and disaster relief.

I’ll be speaking on the religious liberty issue at “The Cellar” in Waterloo at 7 p.m. on July 1. I’ll also have a few words at St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines following the 10:30 a.m. Mass on July 7.

This issue isn’t about the Catholic Church trying to force its beliefs on others. It’s about the government trying to impose its beliefs on the Catholic Church. Visit www.fortnight4freedom.org for more information.

AND FINALLY,

Today is World Refugee Day. You can find out more about how the Church supports refugees at www.usccb.org.

Tom Chapman

Executive Director

Iowa Catholic Conference

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