WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 15, 2013)—As Congress works on a budget package, it should replace sequestration and protect programs that serve the poor and vulnerable, at home and abroad, wrote Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, and Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California. Bishop Pates and Bishop Blaire, who addressed their November 12 letter to the leadership of Budget Conference Committee, chair the U.S. bishops’ Committees on International Justice and Peace and Domestic Justice and Human Development, respectively.
“The Budget Control Act (BCA) exempted many important antipoverty programs from sequestration, and we supported and commended Congress for that decision,” the bishops wrote. “However, many discretionary programs that provide vital services to people and families living in poverty, both her and throughout the world, have been cut deeply in recent years. Continuing sequestration threatens even deeper cuts.”
They added, “Last year the Office of Management and Budget estimated that fiscal year 2013 sequestration cuts alone could deprive 3.33 million people of life-saving food assistance and 276,500 of HIV/AIDS treatment, leading to about 63,000 more deaths and 124,000 more orphans.”
Among other issues, the bishops voiced concern over the cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the farm bill, as well as domestic housing needs.
The bishops reiterated their principles that every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects human life and dignity, how it affects the “least of these” and whether it reflects the shared responsibility of government and other institutions to promote the common good, especially for “ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.”
The full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/budget-conferees-fy14.pdf
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Keywords: Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Bishop Richard E. Pates, Domestic Justice and Human Development, International Justice and Peace, sequester, Budget Conference Committee, food stamps, housing