Bishop Blaire, Bishop Pates Urge Congress To Protect The Poor, Future Generations As Sequestration Looms

November 14, 2012 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—Congress should avoidmeasures that harm at-risk students, low-income families and people currentlybenefiting from poverty-focused international assistance, according to a letterfrom the bishops who oversee the justice and peace efforts of the U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

"As you work to avoid sequestrationand enact responsible deficit reduction that protects poor persons from cutsand future generations from unsustainable debts, we hope longstanding moralprinciples and values will inform your decisions," wrote Bishop Stephen E.Blaire of Stockton, California, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines,Iowa, in a November 13 letter to the House and Senate. Bishop Blaire and BishopPates chair the USCCB Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development andInternational Justice and Peace, respectively.

Thebishops said Pope Benedict XVI warns against "downsizing of social securitysystems" and emphasizes "solidarity with poor countries" and asked Congress toweigh the "human and moral consequences" of numerous policy choices, including:

·Section 8 housing vouchers, the Women, Infantand Children's (WIC) program and community health centers, which "help to keepchildren and families with a roof over their heads, with food on the table, andin good health."

·Title I-A, which supports struggling low-incomestudents, Title II-A, which supports the professional development of teachers,and IDEA, which supports students with disabilities.

·Poverty focused international assistance, whichcomprise less than one percent of the federal budget and "save lives, treat andprevent disease, make farmers more productive, help orphans, feed victims ofdisaster, and protect refugees."

·The Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child TaxCredit, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Pell Grants,which assist "people living in or near poverty."

"Wehave great concerns that sequestration would negatively affect many importantdomestic programs that meet the basic needs of people and communities inpoverty," the bishops wrote and urged Congress to "act in a bipartisan mannerto address the impact of long-term deficits on the health of the economy and onfuture generations, and to use limited resources efficiently and effectively.However, this important goal must not be achieved at the expense of the dignityof poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad."

Thefull text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/sequester-letter-house-2012-11-13.pdf

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Keywords: sequestration, House, Senate, U.S. Congress,bipartisan, Circle of Protection, low-income families, SNAP, Pell Grants,Section 8, at-risk students, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Bishop Richard E. Pates,Domestic Justice and Human Development, International Justice and Peace, AIDS,farmers, international assistance, USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference ofCatholic Bishops

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