OGR Advocacy Newsletter September 2021
As summer draws to a close, we want to thank you for being an Episcopal Public Policy Network member. It has been an eventful summer, and we know many of you have worked tirelessly to address the many needs in your communities and around the world, including through your advocacy efforts.
All of us at the Office of Government Relations have been busy too – presenting to dioceses and parishes, connecting with bishops, meeting with Congressional offices, and hosting webinars to educate our network about the issues the Church has spoken on. Through it all, we prioritize building relationships with key contacts on Capitol Hill and in the Administration. So many of our priorities are in play right now: while several initiatives we have pushed for like increased food assistance and an expanded Child Tax Credit have been enacted, many of the policies we as a Church support, like voting rights, are being challenged.
This September marks five years since I joined the Office of Government Relations. I came on staff just prior to the 2016 election, and many events of the past several years, like the travel ban, ending the DACA program, and a global pandemic we could not have foreseen. There have been hard days. Working in the public policy space means that our work is always personal and emotional – we hear from Episcopalians and others about the impact of legislation on real people’s lives. The decisions made in Washington can feel far off, but we are aware of the tremendous impact that policy and legislation have. Through it all, we look to our faith, to the community that surrounds us, and to scripture that guides, strengthens, and sustains us. We pray that you are able to do the same and that our advocacy stays rooted in our commitments that truly are transformative.
As we look ahead to the fall, we will continue to focus on our priority areas of ending poverty, helping migrants and refugees, fighting for racial justice, developing an aggressive response to climate change, and defending human rights in the U.S. and around the world.
Please find some more detailed information about our work below. In the meantime, we hope you will join us for our Congress Weekly Network Calls for EPPN members. These off-the-record briefings give you a chance to ask OGR staff questions and to share any initiatives you are taking and want to share with a wider group.
Thank you, as ever, for your support and witness.
Rebecca Linder Blachly
Director, Office of Government Relations
This summer, we have sent alerts to the EPPN network to ask Congress to take action on a variety of issues; from enacting paid family leave to addressing the public health threat of antimicrobial resistance. Since our last newsletter, EPPN has sent 9,810 messages to Congress; thank you for your continued advocacy! Messages to Congress are an essential part of our work to influence policy and legislation. We urge you to continue to take action; please visit our action alert page for more information on issues that still need your advocacy.
- Ask Congress to Help Fight COVID-19 in India
- Tell Congress to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 3.0
- Support Efforts to Prevent Maternal and Child Deaths
- Urge Congress to Enact Paid Family Leave
- Ask Congress to Enact Sentencing Reform
- Take Action on Antimicrobial Resistance: A Silent Pandemic
- Give DACA Recipients a Pathway to Legal Status
- Make Lift Every Voice and Sing our National Hymn
- Urge Congress to Pass Effective Voting Reform
- Advocate to Evacuate and Resettle our Afghan Allies
- Urge Congress to Enact Police Reform
- Support Efforts to End COVID-19 Pandemic Globally
The Episcopal Church also advocates through public statements guided by General Convention and Executive Council Resolutions. These public statements serve to engage with the Biden Administration, Congress, and occasionally the Judiciary. Below is a list of statements our office has released on relevant issues since our last newsletter in May 2021.
- The Episcopal Church Statement on Afghan Evacuation
- The Episcopal Church on Supreme Court Advocacy: Fulton v. Philadelphia
The Episcopal Church regularly signs on to letters as one component of our public witness as an institution. Letters to the Administration and Congress are often written in coalition, and they raise the visibility of issues, make specific asks, and demonstrate a broad base of support for a policy proposal. We often bring these letters to Hill visits, and members of Congress regularly quote from them in floor speeches. You will find below some of the diverse letters the Church has signed since May 2021.
- Interfaith Letter to Increase Appropriations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) in FY22
- Letter to Increase Climate Change Appropriations in FY22
- Letter Requesting an 18-month Extension and Redesignation of TPS for Yemen
- Letter Requesting the Implementation of a COVID-19 Emergency Waiver of WTO TRIPS Rules for Vaccines, Tests, and Treatments
- Letter Calling on Congress to Advance Anti-Racist Housing Policies and Increase Affordable Housing
- Letter Calling on a Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, an Ambitious Recovery Package, and Voting Rights Legislation
- Interfaith Letter Calling on President Biden to Support Global Vaccine Equity
- Joint Statement and Call to Action on the Crisis in Haiti
OGR Events & Resources
Webinars are key tools to help educate Episcopalians about ways to strategically engage with our elected officials and advocate for just legislation. We have recently hosted webinars on topics such as Haiti, Impacts of Climate-Induced Migration, and Paid Family Leave. Recordings of these events and more can be found on our Events Page.
We have shared the following resources with our EPPN network emails, which you can sign up for here.
- Church and Public Health Information on COVID-19
- Episcopal Church Toolkit for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
With many blessings,
The Office of Government Relations
The Office of Government Relations