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WASHINGTON—Congress should avoid measures that harm at-risk students, low-income families and people currently benefiting from poverty-focused international assistance, according to a letter from the bishops who oversee the justice and peace efforts of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
"As you work to avoid sequestration and enact responsible deficit reduction that protects poor persons from cuts and future generations from unsustainable debts, we hope longstanding moral principles 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 Bishop Pates chair the USCCB Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively.
The bishops said Pope Benedict XVI warns against "downsizing of social security systems" and emphasizes "solidarity with poor countries" and asked Congress to weigh the "human and moral consequences" of numerous policy choices, including:
·Section 8 housing vouchers, the Women, Infant and Children's (WIC) program and community health centers, which "help to keep children and families with a roof over their heads, with food on the table, and in good health."
·Title I-A, which supports struggling low-income students, Title II-A, which supports the professional development of teachers, and IDEA, which supports students with disabilities.
·Poverty focused international assistance, which comprise less than one percent of the federal budget and "save lives, treat and prevent disease, make farmers more productive, help orphans, feed victims of disaster, and protect refugees."
·The Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Pell Grants, which assist "people living in or near poverty."
"We have great concerns that sequestration would negatively affect many important domestic programs that meet the basic needs of people and communities in poverty," the bishops wrote and urged Congress to "act in a bipartisan manner to address the impact of long-term deficits on the health of the economy and on future generations, and to use limited resources efficiently and effectively. However, this important goal must not be achieved at the expense of the dignity of poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad."
The full 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
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 of Catholic Bishops
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