2004 Congressional Wrap-up

December 19, 2004

The 108th Congress has departed and predictions for the 109th are coming in from advocates and political prognosticators. We will be writing to you in January about the coming Congress but wanted to thank you for your wonderful responses to our requests for letters, meetings, calls, faxes and emails – and for forwarding them to other interested Episcopalians. Thanks to you EPPN is now at a record high of over 12,000 members – and growing.

We wanted to give you a very brief final report on the legislative outcome for the issues on which we worked together this year. We have put an * by those issues we expect to be active again next year – and we want to give you fair warning that we expect it to be a very busy year for social justice advocates!

*AgJobs (Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act): No vote taken.

*Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Efforts to add drilling in the Budget failed.

*Childcare in TANF: $6 Billion was added to the Senate legislation, but there was no final vote on reauthorization.

*Debt Relief: The Administration made a serious proposal but no action was taken.

*Development: Appropriation of $1.5 billion for the Millennium Challenge Accounts was $500 million more than the FY’04 level, but still $1 million less than the Bush Administration’s budget proposal.

Gun Control: Congress allowed the ban on certain assault weapons to lapse.

Hate Crimes: Progress was made in both the House and the Senate, but no final legislation was passed.

*HIV/AIDS: Congress appropriated $2.9 billion, $100 million more than the Administration requested but still not enough to meet the commitments the U.S. has made, particularly to the Global Fund.

*Middle East: The Administrative authorized $20 million in aid for the Palestinian Authority. The DeLay-Hoyer Resolution passed 407 – 9 with three abstentions. It was referred to the Senate where no action was taken.

*Minimum Wage: No vote taken.

Mother’s Promise: Neither the President nor Congress took any action to reaffirm the Cairo plan-of-action.

*New Nuclear Initiatives: Two proposals for new nuclear weapons were blocked in the final congressional budget negotiations.

*Orphans Bill/School Fees: AIDS Orphans bill passed in the House but ultimately fell narrowly short of Senate passage. Congressional appropriators failed to provide any funds to eliminate school fees for orphans in the developing world.

Sudan: The Administration made a formal determination that the atrocities in Darfur constitute genocide, and Congress appropriated $300 million in additional funds for Darfur.