In mid to late September, Congress passed a six month FY 2013 continuing resolution that would expire on March 27, 2013. According to the most recent Coalition on Human Needs newsletter, the legislation “contains no controversial policy riders or funding levels that differ significantly from current levels. It does contain extra funds for modernizing nuclear weapons, for cybersecurity work done by the Department of Homeland Security, for fighting wildfires, and for addressing a backlog of disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs.” The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) was also extended as it was set to expire September 30.
Remaining after the elections are the sequestration cuts (set to take effect January 1, 2013), the federal unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless (expires December 31) and the farm bill. Those out of labor for at least 27 weeks make up about 40 percent of the unemployed. Terminating these benefits would increase the number of individuals living in poverty in America.
The Budget Control Act put into place last year would force action on across the board spending cuts of 8.9 % to all areas including the Pentagon that would take effect January 1. Preserved is Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP and a few other safety net programs. Additionally, the Bush-era tax cuts expire on December 31 among a few other tax incentives. These other tax incentives include the payroll tax holiday and annually renewable tax incentives. Failure to prevent these cuts and tax increases is what is known as the “fiscal cliff” or “fiscal slope”being spoken of in the media. Economists are divided about the benefits of this event. What is key is that safety net providers will NOT lose funding on January 1.
Farm bill programs expired on September 30 with a 2012 Farm Bill still looming after the elections. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will continue to operate without interruption as it was included in the FY 2013 6-month continuing resolution that was passed the end of September. According to the Coalition on Human Needs most recent newsletter, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program is also protected.
Farmers must have access to the government role in planning for next year’s crop. Failure to act by December 31 will place crop subsidies back to the 1940 farm bill level. The major disagreement lies in how much savings over ten years the House and Senate are able to make. According to the Coalition on Human Needs most recent newsletter, The House is looking for $16 billion in cuts to SNAP while the Senate is seeking $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP. Additionally, the House is looking to save $35 billion over 10 years while the Senate is seeking to save $23 billion over that same time period.
The Veteran’s Employment Bill was shelved before the election recess. According to a September 19, article in Stars and Stripes, one in four Veterans is unemployed. The bill would have allowed President Obama to create veterans jobs corps, spending $1 billion on programs and grants to put former servicemembers to work as police officers, emergency response personnel and park rangers. The chances of this bill appearing after the elections is slim as there are many pieces of legislation in need of attention.
- When legislators return after Election Day, thousands of signatures will be passed on to legislators telling Congress we need a 2012 Farm Bill that invests in the future of healthy farms, food and people; protects our precious air, soil, water and reforms farm subsidies and levels the playing field. Join in solidarity byclicking here.
- Watch for other ways to take action on the above issues at theSCN Family Websiteunder the Global Ministries Tab at top of page (Weekly Justice Highlights).