OGR Advocacy Newsletter December 2021
As the year comes to a close, we hope that many of you are able to spend some time with family and friends and celebrate Christmas. We also acknowledge that many of you may be confronting pain and loss this season of Advent – loss of loved ones from COVID, addiction and overdose, other illnesses, or the loss due to estrangement or distance. We will continue to pray for healing for all who are going through hardship.
My colleagues and I at the Office of Government Relations (OGR) will have some time away, but we will also continue to follow what is happening on Capitol Hill. Congress recently lifted the debt ceiling and passed the National Defense Authorization Act. What remains to be seen is whether the Senate will pass the Build Back Better Act, the social safety net legislation that we have been advocating for, before Christmas, or wait until the new year to take it up. If the Senate passes the bill with any changes, the legislation will need to go back to the House for another vote before it becomes law.
As you can see from our action alerts below, the Build Back Better Act has been a major focus of our work in the Office of Government Relations, all based on our Church policies that call for the federal government to provide support for the most vulnerable among us. Assistance for children living in poverty, in the form of the child tax credit, housing assistance for those facing homelessness, and environmental provisions that seek to address the current and coming harms of climate change are all aspects of the bill we support and have met with Congressional offices on. In recent weeks, we have been in conversation with Senate offices urging swift action. We remain hopeful that the bill will pass – either by Christmas or early in the new year – and hope to celebrate the provisions that will ease suffering.
As we turn to the New Year, we will also plan to reinvigorate our advocacy on voting rights, to increase our voter engagement efforts for another midterm election year, and to reflect on the privilege it is to live in a democracy, imperfect as it is. This can be a frightening time to live in our democracy, and indeed in many places around the world where it can seem that authoritarianism is growing.
But we can take action. Historically, voting rights, and in particular updates to the Voting Rights Act, have enjoyed widespread and bipartisan support. At present, many advocates are centering their calls on ending the filibuster, something we cannot speak to given our Church’s policies, but we can continue to underscore the importance of voting and the need for federal legislation to counteract recent bills in many statehouses that have sought to restrict or limit the right to vote. At the most recent meeting, Executive Council reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to voting rights for all of those eligible.
If you are looking to do even more for voter engagement in the 2022 midterms, apply to become part of our new Episcopal Election Activator program. And as you look ahead to the New Year, please consider joining our Episcopal Public Policy Network Calls. These 30-minute calls, Thursdays at 1 pm Eastern time, provide EPPN members a chance to hear updates on Congress, the Administration, and the Supreme Court, and to learn about how Episcopal Church policies intersect with all these issues. You can register here.
Please read below to see more about what OGR has done over the past several months. We are grateful for your support, your partnership, and your ministry of public policy advocacy.
Rebecca Linder Blachly, Director of the Office of Government Relations
The messages you send through our action alerts with the Episcopal Public Policy Network are vital in our collective work to influence policy and legislation. Since the release of our newsletter in September, we have called on you to engage in 15 new or updated action alerts and sent over 21,000 messages to Congress. These alerts have tackled international, Indigenous, climate, and pressing national concerns.
We are grateful as always for your dedication to exercising your constitutional right to influence policies and legislation that benefit all Children of God at home and across the globe.
We urge you to continue to take action; please visit our action alert page for more information on issues that still require your advocacy and see below the list of the alerts we have sent this fall.
Build Back Better Suite:
- Prioritize Protections of the Most Vulnerable
- Pass Ambitious Climate Change Legislation
- Increase Revenues to Finance Human Needs
- Enact Paid Family Leave
- Farm System Reform Act
- Indigenous Peoples Day and Boarding Schools
- Support Human Trafficking Survivors
- Keeping Girls in School Act
- Enact Sentencing Reform
- Promote Human Rights for Palestinian Children
- Support the Afghan Adjustment Act
- End Slavery Without Exception – 13th Amendment
- Support the Global Fight Against Malnutrition
- Urge Congress to Prevent a Government Shutdown and Pass Appropriations (Congress passed needed legislation)
- Urge Congress to Fund the Government (Congress passed needed legislation)
These newsletters present us an opportunity to share sign-on letters The Episcopal Church joins or leads as one part of our public witness as an institution. These letters, which may be sent to the Administration, a government agency, and Congress, are often written in coalition with faith-based and secular partners. These are instrumental in raising the visibility of issues, making specific asks, and demonstrating extensive support for or opposition to a policy proposal.
Below are some of the various letters The Episcopal Church has joined since September 2021.
- Elevating Anti-Racist Housing Policies and Increasing Affordable Housing
- Open Letter to Business Roundtable CEOs on Climate Change
- Sign-on Letter to Congressional Leadership for Maternal Health in the Build Back Better Act
- WISC Letter on priorities for Bold, Equitable Build Back Better Legislation
- Sign-on Letter to Congress to End Participation in the War and Blockade on Yemen
- IDAC letter on Better Care Better Jobs act HCBS funding in Reconciliation
- Ecumenical Statement on Commission on Indigenous Boarding Schools
- Sign-on Letter Supporting Martha Wright Prison Phone Justice Act
- NGO Letter to Armed Services Committee Supporting Rep. García’s Amendment to the NDAA
- Sign-on Letter to Biden to Support Housing Investments in BBB
- Interfaith Letter Opposing Labeling Palestinian Organizations as Terrorist
- Coalition Letter to Require a Report on the Humanitarian Impacts of Restrictions on Gaza
- Sign-on Letter to Congressional Leaders for Historic Housing Investments in BBB
- Faith Letter to Senators Urging the Passage of the EQUAL Act
- Sign-on Letter to OMB to Support International Climate Finance in FY2023
- Presiding Bishop joins National Faith Leader Letter on Clearing Death Penalty Row
- Presiding Bishop joins interfaith support letter for the Global Fund
Apart from action alerts and sign-on letters, The Episcopal Church also advocates through independent public statements. These statements engage with the Biden Administration, Congress, and sometimes the Judiciary on pressing contemporary issues. Here are the statements our office has released since our newsletter in September.
- Statement on the Situation in Del Rio
- Statement on FY2022 Refugee Admissions
- Statement on the Build Back Better Framework
- Statement on the Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal
- Statement on House Passing of the Build Back Better Act
Creation Care Advocacy
In November, OGR and other staff from the Presiding Bishop’s office led a virtual delegation of 24 Episcopalians from the U.S., Colombia, and Europe to the COP26 United Nations climate change conference. Over the two weeks of the conference, the delegation tracked negotiations, hosted educational webinars and prayer services, and used social media to amplify the Church’s advocacy. See our COP26 policy priorities here.
We continue to urge support for climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act including clean energy tax breaks and incentives, stricter methane regulations, and investments in low-income and minority communities, many of whom are already impacted by climate change. We also strongly support the Build Back Better provision to permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—this would accomplish one of our longest-standing environmental policy asks!
Resources and events
To learn about future events, please visit our events page.
Additionally, we have shared all of these important resources with our EPPN network via email, which you can sign up for here.
With abundant blessings,
The Office of Government Relations
The Office of Government Relations