Several important domestic policy issues were considered last week in the House and Senate. Here is a short update on the recent legislative action and opportunities for you to be involved in the remaining days of the 108th Congress.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
The House and Senate passed a six month extension of TANF last week. This important legislation designed to lift families out of poverty, enable individuals to gain skills needed to work and earn enough to meet basic human needs, and improve child well-being will not likely be addressed by policy makers until next year. TANF still must be reauthorizedânormally for a five or six year period to ensure that state governments can budget appropriately. The Office of Government Relations continues to follow this issue closely, and we will update the background paper on TANF as new information develops. That paper will remain available at Here.
Last week the House, a procedural motion, "instructing conferees" to include the hate crimes measure included in the Department of Defense Authorization Bill passed last June by the Senate, helped bring the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Hate Crimes Prevention Act closer to the Presidentâs desk. The legislation would extend the federal hate crimes law to include those crimes which occur because of the victim's race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or disability.
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act was the subject of a number of Episcopal Public Policy Network Alerts in recent years and enjoys strong bipartisan support. As legislators from the House and Senate work to resolve the differences between their respective versions of the Department of Defense Authorization Bill, EPPN members may be called upon to contact their legislators to support this important legislation.
Gun Safety Legislation
Repeal of District of Columbia Gun Safety Legislation
Last week, despite the vocal objections of District of Columbia Police Chief Charles Ramsey and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the House passed legislation, H.R. 3193, to repeal District of Columbiaâs municipal gun control laws which had been in place since 1976. While no action is currently expected in the Senate, H.R. 3193 would repeal gun safety laws limiting the ownership of handguns, semi-automatic weapons and certain types of ammunition. The District of Columbia does not have representation in the U.S. Senate, limited representation in the House of Representatives and a limited form of self-rule, but Congress still can overturn all municipal ordinances and block the cityâs annual budget.
Federal Assault Weapons Ban
In the wake of September 11th 2001, the Congress continues to spend millions of dollars on infrastructure and security upgrades to keep the Capitol Complex gun-free. In September, the Federal Assault Weapons Banâenacted in 1994âexpired because the House and President failed to act on legislation to renew the ban. The Episcopal Church has long supported measures to decrease gun violence in our society. EPPN members are encouraged to contact their Representatives to encourage them to work to bring the Federal Assault Weapons Ban Renewal to a vote in the House. To see if your member of Congress has co-sponsored this legislation go to http://http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:HR03831:@@@P.