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Congressional Memorial Day Recess Action Alerts

May 23rd, 2008

Congressional Memorial Day Recess – Friday May 23 – Tuesday Jun 3, 2008

Oblate JPIC Legislative Talking Points for the Congressional Recess. The Memorial Day recess is an opportunity to meet face-to-face with Senators and Representatives in their home districts where they meet with constituents and interests groups in town hall and open house meetings. These are wonderful opportunities to make sure Congress works for you on issues that you care about and need immediate action by U.S Congress.

Stand up against Poverty: Support the Jubilee Act 2008

  • Background: Over the last decades, poor countries in Africa and Latin America have accumulated billions of dollars in international debt. Some of the debt was from poor borrowing decisions and lending to corrupt leaders, but the run-up in interest rates in the early 1980’s caught many borrowers by surprise and their debt burdens escalated beyond their ability to pay. In many cases, the debt has been paid several times over.
  • Urge your Senator to co-sponsor the Jubilee Act, S. 2166. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Jubilee Act HR 2634 with a 285- 132 vote. Similar legislation introduced in the Senate must now be passed.
  • The Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation calls on the administration to press the World Bank to remove harmful economic policy conditions linked to debt cancellation. It mandates transparency and responsible borrowing from governments as well as lending institutions.
  • Contact Jubilee USA for more information about the Bill and their upcoming Grassroots Training and Action Conference in Columbus, Ohio from June 20-22

Support Fair and Just Housing

  • Background: National Housing Trust Fund Act (NHTF) S. 2523 is a bill intended to establish a housing trust fund in the Treasury of the United States to provide for the construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of decent, safe, and affordable housing for low-income families.
  • Currently there is not a single Congressional district with enough rental housing that is affordable to extremely low-income households, those making 30% or below of area median income.
  • The bill will create the first federal housing program that produces housing for the poorest households and it requires that Trust Fund-assisted developments remain affordable for at least 50 years.
  • The initial impact of a National Housing Trust Fund would be to create 184,300 jobs and generate $5 billion in wages across the nation

Tell your Senator to Co-Sponsor S. 2523 and Include NHTF in Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008.

Speak up for Immigrants; Oppose the SAVE ACT!

  • Background: SAVE ACT is sponsored by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-North Carolina) and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado). The SAVE Act will make it easier for the government to put religious and humanitarian workers behind bars for so-called “alien smuggling.”
  • SAVE ACT will waste millions of tax-payer dollars on enforcement, detention and deportation programs that have been tried for the last twenty years and failed to end unauthorized immigration. H.R. 4088 is a misguided political response to a policy problem where voters already have spoken. The majority of Americans oppose rounding up and deporting 12 million undocumented immigrants as a waste of federal dollars.
  • Tell your Congressional Representative to oppose the SAVE ACT now. Demand Congressional action to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform that addresses border security, unifies separated families, legalizes status for undocumented immigrants, and protects immigration flows.

Oppose the U.S.-Columbia Free Trade Agreement

Background: The White House Administration has sent the US-Columbia Free Trade Agreement to Congress which may force a vote, without congressional and committee structures. On April 10, in a vote of 224 to 195, the House of Representatives suspended the 60-day fast track requirement for voting on the agreement.

  • This agreement has the potential to be forced to a vote this year. Senators and Representatives must know that you oppose the Columbia FTA due to its weak protection of the environment and labor standards.
  • Tell your Senator or Representative to oppose the Columbia Free Trade Agreement because family farmers in Columbia will be undermined by a lowering of tariffs on agricultural imports and weak enforcement of environmental and labor standards. Columbia has a record of egregious human rights violations, collusion between government officials, legislators and drug traffickers and a lack of respect for democratic principles towards its citizens

Save lives in Africa: Support PEPFAR reauthorization

  • Background: The initial President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief bill, first signed by President Bush five years ago, has a requirement that 55% of all Pepfar funds be targeted for AIDS treatment. The current Senate and House versions of the bill making their way through the 110th Congress have removed a requirement that PEPFAR funds be spent on lifesaving treatment, despite the fact that this Congress is increasing funding for PEPFAR to $50 billion over the next five years up from its initial $15 billion, five year commitment.
  • Call on your Senator to vote YES to authorize the $50 billion for Pepfar programs over the next five years. PEPFAR must have treatment as a major funding priority.
  • Support expanding the integration of food and nutrition into treatment programs that will benefit people affected by HIV.
  • Urge your senator to support the provision of resources to address the shortage of healthcare workers and to build effective healthcare structures.
  • Support a balanced approach to HIV prevention that includes behavior change programs.

U.S. Congress: Take Leadership on Global Climate Change

Background: The fight against climate change is a global problem and requires comprehensive solutions. The Bush Administration has squandered the past eight years, first by denying the problem, then by insisting on developing climate targets at country levels only with no binding or mandatory provisions. Call on the U.S. Congress to take leadership on the Climate Change issue. Bold leadership will come from passing legislation that is binding and has specific targets. Such leadership is essential to bring other major world polluters such as China and India to agreement. Please see a letter to Congress signed onto by the Oblate JPIC Office, giving our position on recent climate change legislation. It is available on our website: www.omiusajpic.org

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