79th General Convention Resolution Update: December 2019

December 2, 2019

We periodically aim to share General Convention resolution updates so that Episcopalians are aware of the work the Office of Government Relations (OGR) does in addition to action alerts. In addition to advocating on behalf of Episcopalians in person with legislators and their staff, our office has continued to engage Episcopalians on social media, connect them with their legislators through Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN), and provide information about changing policies through our Posts from the Hill.

Sign-on letter: Presiding Bishop signed a letter entitled "Christians against Christian Nationalism," which condemns Christian Nationalism in the formation and implementation of government policy.

To learn more about our advocacy efforts and some of the actions we have taken this quarter, read below.

Domestic Policy
Together with members of the EPPN, OGR advocates to end poverty domestically and internationally and to support legislation aimed to improve public health. We have met with Congressional offices, signed on to letters to Congress and the Trump Administration, and worked in coalition to move forward this advocacy priority.

  • Disabilities: Initiating our work on resolution D090: Engaging the Church in Advocacy for Disability Rights, we sent an EPPN action alert asking Episcopalians to advocate for a bill that would provide long-term funding for the Money Follows the Person program. This program assists individuals with disabilities transition out of institutions, like nursing homes, and into the greater community. We are working on this issue and more as part of the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Collaborative.
  • Opioids: As called for in resolution C037: Call to Respond to the Opioid Epidemic, OGR has also advocated to treat the opioid epidemic as a public health crisis by supporting the CARE Act, a bill introduced by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, that lays out a ten-year, 100-billion-dollar initiative to improve emergency responses to overdose medical care and treatment. We have partnered with Congressional offices on this legislation, and connected with the Task Force to Respond to the Opioid Epidemic to learn from and share best practices from around the Church on this issue.
  • Taxes: Seeking to improve the financial situation of families, in line with resolution C041: Repair America’s Safety Net, we have advocated for changes to the U.S. tax code that would assist low-income families, in particular through advocating for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
  • Gun Safety: We have continued working on issues regarding gun safety, sending an action alert supporting three pieces of legislation that urge Congress to pass bills that prevent individuals who have been convicted of hate crimes from owning guns, outlaw high-capacity magazines, and encourage states to pass “red flag laws”. As highlighted in B005: Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue, OGR has continued to advocate for Congress to provide funding for the CDC and NIH to research gun violence and its impact on human health.
  • Death Penalty: In accordance with longstanding Church teachings and policy, including D077: Reducing Death Penalty Sentence, OGR released a statement condemning the Trump Administration’s decision to carry out federal executions for the first time since 2003.
     

Census: As in 2010, The Episcopal Church is an official partner of the 2020 census. We will be working with partners within and outside of the Church to ensure the census is as accurate as possible. In the coming months leading up to Census Day  on April 1st, 2020, we will share educational resources and materials which will provide further information about the impact of the census on U.S. government programs which in turn are important in our communities.

Creation Care
Based on the Church’s teachings on environmental stewardship and conservation, OGR has continued to advocate for legislation that protects Earth’s resources and protects our communities from harmful environmental impacts. Notably, we have worked to protect the Arctic Refuge and the Gwich’in people, in alignment with resolution A011: Oppose Environmental Racism. OGR has signed onto two letters: one sent to the House to vote yes on Repeal Drilling in Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain bill and the other to the Senate to pass the Arctic Refuge Protection Act. Most recently, OGR followed-up on resolution C063: Advocate for Ocean Health, by sharing an action alert in support of the Save our Seas 2.0 Act. 

Furthermore, OGR created an eight-part Creation Care Series in August of this year. This series highlighted some of the complexities that come with making national policy on many aspects of climate change. The series addressed: carbon pricing, just transitions, trade deals, government infrastructure, clean water, renewable energy, and environmental racism. Each segment provides historical context around the subject, current actions being taken, a balanced perspective on possible solutions and an opportunity for reader reflection. This comprehensive, educational series touched upon the following 2018 resolutions:

  • A011: Oppose Environmental Racism, B025: Water as a Human Right, B026:  Embracing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, C020: Carbon Tax, C063: Advocate for Ocean Health, D006: Just Transition: Automation and New Technology, and D081: Helping Communities Affected by Change in Energy Use

Also this December, we return to the UN Climate Change Conference #COP25, going on now, working with The Episcopal Church and the United Nations.

International Issues
Working on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, OGR has taken action in the following areas: Specifically, on Iran, we released a statement urging the United States government to re-join the Iran Nuclear deal, pursue a multilateral agreement on denuclearization, increase regional security and end non-armed militancy sanctions on Iran (D051: Support Recommitment to the Iran Nuclear Deal). Regarding Latin America, we have posted action alerts advocating for the removal of travel restrictions to Cuba and in support of granting temporary protected status to Venezuelans fleeing their country (D098: Increase Focus and Engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean), and we participated in a conference on the Anglican Episcopal Church’s Regional Response to Latin American Migration. Additionally, we joined our Evangelical Lutheran Church of America partners on a trip to look at the status of gender equality and caste-based discrimination in India and learn about church ministries (A222: Against Caste-and Descent-Based Discrimination).

Sign-on letter: Presiding Bishop Curry signed onto a letter with other Heads of Communion outlining recommendations to help bring about a just and lasting end to the conflict in Israel/Palestine.

In the area of global development, we have endorsed and advocated for policies that increase gender equality, promote global health initiatives and further embrace the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, per General Convention resolution B026.

  • Gender Justice: EPPN Action alert urging support for the Keeping Girls in Schools Act, which calls on our government to continue investments in quality and equitable education, as well as promotes the empowerment of young women and economic security.
  • Global Health: We sent EPPN action alerts in support of bolstering global health initiatives and also for ending child and maternal deaths (D014: Addressing Maternal Mortality). Additionally, The Episcopal Church, through OGR, participated in a panel at a forum hosted by Georgetown to discuss the historic and current role of religious groups in ending HIV / AIDS.
  • Global Governance: Following resolution D096: Support for Good Governance, OGR has advocated for the Combating Global Corruption Act of 2019, which would make corruption an American national security priority, encouraging transparency in foreign assistance and publicizing efforts and results on anti-corruption initiatives. We work closely with Jubilee USA who leads coalition efforts on corporate transparency, debt relief, and anti-corruption. Our staff has also spoken at events on the importance of socially responsible investing and shareholder engagement in fostering effective, lasting global development.

Migration Policy
Addressing resolutions A178: Halt the Intensification and Implementation of Immigration Policies and Practices that are Harmful to Migrant Women, Parents and Children, and C033: Respecting the Dignity of Immigrants, OGR has been tracking and releasing statements on the turbulent changes in immigration policy, continually informing our network on changes as they happen. Notably, we have written about ICE raids, the state of family detention, increased asylum restrictions, and overarching immigration policy updates, which included issues such as public charge. OGR also released an action alert encouraging the government to oppose the elimination of medical-deferred action for immigrants, a decision which would have disregarded medical circumstance when determining deportation. This policy has since been repealed by the Trump Administration.

Sign-on letter: In September we signed onto a letter requesting Temporary Protected Status for Bahamians as a response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian.

In the past three months, we have prioritized our work on migration and refugee resettlement, in response to Christian Principles for Responding to Human Migration (D009). Ahead of the White House’s decision to reduce refugee admissions, OGR hosted a Bishops Refugee Advocacy Day, meeting with a total of 19 Congressional members and their staff. Our office also released a Social Media Toolkit on Refugee Resettlement, which guides Episcopalians on how to discuss refugee resettlement including sample social media posts and instructions on how to contact their representatives. In accordance with D050: Solidarity with Victims of Religious Persecution, we moderated a congressional briefing on Restoring the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program as a Core Part of a Robust International Religious Freedom Agenda. Finally, OGR posted a statement condemning the White House’s official decision to reduce U.S. refugee admissions to 18,000 in fiscal year 2020. As always OGR closely partners with Episcopal Migration Ministries and will be co-hosting a Love God, Love Neighbor: Advocacy in Action day in early December.

#GivingTuesday is coming up soon—please consider contributing to the work of Episcopal Migration Ministries and #GiveWelcome.

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