Office of Government Relations

End of 115th Congress Updates

December 17, 2018
Office of Government Relations

The House and Senate just passed the Farm Bill that maintains the protections for the vulnerable and hungry that you have been advocating for!

This is a significant victory to prevent incredibly harmful changes that were proposed in previous versions. Through the For Such a Time campaign to #PrayFastAct, the Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have highlighted the critical role food assistance plays in uplifting hungry, working families.

Your calls and emails on this issue made a difference.

Thanks to you and millions of other people of faith and good conscience, the SNAP program, and the families it feeds, have been protected. While we have protected these families from harmful policy changes in the short-term, we still must work to overhaul federal education, training, and job-creation programs that are not providing people with the skills they need to work their way to the American Dream in the long-term.

In the weeks ahead, there remain a number of issues that are developing and changing quickly.

Criminal justice reform: Following years of behind-the-scenes work and negotiations, a modest bill emerged last week. The Office of Government Relations, the Presiding Bishop, and ecumenical partners have been supportive of these bipartisan negotiations. While they have not produced our ideal bill, they have made good faith efforts to improve an unjust system and represent the compromise and bipartisanship all of the challenges we face require.

As we await a new version of and amendments to the bill, we are prepared to evaluate whether we can continue to support it.

Johnson Amendment: In November 2017, the Office of Government Relations issued an alert that there were efforts to repeal a law that protects churches from political interference. Efforts to tear down this barrier between electoral politics and houses of worship are active again. We continue to oppose changes to the current law and strongly believe electoral politics should not be allowed in the pulpit.

We encourage you to review our previous alert on this issue.

Government funding: There is a deep divide between the White House, Congress, and the two parties over funding for many government agencies. The dispute is over what level of funding to provide for a physical wall on the southern border. This standoff is concerning for many reasons, including:

  • A failure to fund the government would leave hundreds of thousands of government employees, including law enforcement and emergency services, without pay at Christmas.
  • The increased militarization at the southern border and continued hostility toward those seeking asylum in the United States is at odds with federal law and Christian teaching.

We ask you to continue following The Office of Government Relations through our social media and grassroots network, the Episcopal Public Policy Network, for updates on these issues. And, in addition to calling and writing your legislators, to pray that they may be guided by civility and justice.

Prayer For Congress or a State Legislature
O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and gracious, and whose law is truth: We beseech thee so to guide and bless our Senators and Representatives in Congress assembled, that they may enact such laws as shall please thee, to the glory of thy Name and the welfare of this people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer, pg. 821

The Office of Government Relations