EPPN Spring 2018 Newsletter
Thank you for your engagement over the first three months of 2018! In this Spring newsletter, you'll find updates from recent advocacy and some new opportunities for engagement! In addition to ongoing advocacy, we look forward to 2018 elections this fall and re-releasing voter engagement resources.
Going on now is the #Rally2EndRacism, marking 50 years since the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Check out this page and the graphics below for resources on advocacy during and after the rally, and how the Episcopal Church is partnering with the Poor People's Campaign.
International Food Aid Reform
Senators Bob Corker and Chris Coons have once again introduced food aid reform legislation. The Food for Peace Modernization Act of 2018 seeks to build efficiencies in the U.S. international food aid programs so that more people can receive food assistance. Representatives Ed Royce and Earl Blumenauer have introduced a companion bill in the House. Stay tuned for an action alert on this.
Over the past year, the Office of Government Relations has been quietly advocating to protect opioid treatment resources and expand funding. One of the most important programs in the effort to assist those with addiction is the Medicaid program. Through Medicaid, and expanded private coverage under the Affordable Care Act, many people have access to treatment that would otherwise be out of reach.
Efforts by the Episcopal Public Policy Network in 2017 to protect these programs were inspired, in part, by the critical role they play in providing addiction and mental health services. THANK YOU for your advocacy on these health related issues. While the ACA and Medicaid enable millions to gain otherwise unaffordable treatment, they are not enough.
Our advocacy on this issue in federal FY2018 appropriations encouraged additional funding for a comprehensive and long-term response to the crisis. Often working in collaboration with ecumenical partners, some of whom are engaged in direct medical and addiction treatment service delivery, we were successful encouraging Congress to make a meaningful investment. In the recently approved FY2018 omnibus, significant additional investments were approved, totaling $3.3 billion, including:
- $1.4 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, including $1 billion for a new State Opioid Response Grant program and a $160 million increase in the Mental Health Block Grant
- $500 million for the National Institutes of Health for more opioid addiction research
- $350 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for opioid overdose prevention, surveillance, and improving state prescription drug monitoring programs
- $415 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration to, among other efforts, improve access to addiction treatment in rural and other underserved areas
- $100 million to the Administration for Children and Families to help children whose parents misuse drugs
- An additional $299.5 million to the Department of Justice's anti-opioid grant funding
- An additional $500 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs for mental health programs
- An additional $94 million to Food and Drug Administration efforts to inspect mail for illicit drugs
We expect Congress will appropriate additional funds, likely another $3 billion, in FY2019, and we will continue to engage with Congressional offices as they begin the FY19 appropriations process.
While we continue this work to help ensure sufficient federal resources are available, we appreciate the work being done by parishes and Episcopal organizations every day. Federal resources help, but the efforts of individuals in their communities also make profound differences in individuals' lives.
On March 27, the Administration announced it would terminate in one year Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for about 4,000 Liberians who fled conflict in their country over 10 years ago. The Episcopal Church joined more than 600 faith groups and faith leaders in asking President Trump for an extension of (DED) for 18 months. Find more resources here.
Several lawsuits have been filed in different federal courts against the administration for ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the nationals of certain nations, including Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras. There have also been several pieces of legislation introduced to offer a pathway to legalization for TPS holders. We encourage you to continue to speak out in support of protections for TPS holders. Resources.
Congress has still not passed any significant legislation to offer a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. Recent court injunctions mean DACA holders can renew their status, but no new applications can be filed. While this injunction is positive in that it allows DACA recipients to renew their status, it is only temporary and we know that legislation must still be passed. We continue to push for the Dream Act or other bipartisan bills that would offer a pathway to citizenship. Resources.
April 22 is Earth Day, and in 2018, it falls on a Sunday! Is your faith community ready to celebrate God's good creation? Find a resource from our partner Creation Justice Ministries to equip you with preaching, teaching, prayer, and action materials.
Join our post-March For Our Lives webinar for youth, April 10th at 7:00pm EST. You must register.