Friday, June 20, 2008

YWAct: YWCA USA National Issue Update

Half in Ten Campaign

The Half in Ten: From Poverty to Prosperity campaign has been launched to help end poverty in America. The Campaign will be spearheaded by four organizations including Coalition on Human Needs (CHN), Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), ACORN and the Center for American Progress (CAP) and will be chaired by former Presidential Candidate and U.S. Senator John Edwards.

The goals of the campaign include: elevating and sustaining a focus on the situations facing the poor and middle class today; building and strengthening an effective constituency to demand legislative action on poverty and economic mobility; and advancing specific legislative and policy proposals that will deliver real benefits to struggling American families.

As members of both LCCR and CHN, and as an organization dedicated to poverty reduction, the YWCA USA will be involved in this campaign. For more information on the campaign please visit:

Supplemental Spending Bill

The House and Senate have nearly finished their work on a supplemental spending bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to the war funding, the bill provides an extension of unemployment benefits, a delay of six Medicaid regulations and funding for veteran’s education benefits. The House of Representatives passed the war supplemental on Thursday, June 19th. The Senate is slated to consider the bill on Friday, June 20th.


In response to the rise in the unemployment rate for March, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5749, the Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act by a vote of 274 to 137. H.R. 5749 will provide up to 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits to workers in every state who have exhausted their 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. In addition, workers in states with unemployment rates of 6% or higher may be able to receive an additional 13 weeks of benefits, for a total of 26 weeks of extended benefits. It is unclear if the Senate will vote on H.R. 5749 because the war supplemental bill passed by both the House and Senate contains an extension of unemployment insurance.

Budget Resolution

The House and Senate have passed the FY09 budget resolution after House and Senate Conference Committee members worked out the differences between their two bills. One sticking point was the amount of discretionary funding for domestic and international funding that would be available this year. Discretionary funding provides funding domestic programs including violence against women programs, child care and Head Start programs, housing and health care.

The committee decided on approximately $1.016 trillion or $24.5 billion above the President’s requested level. The next step is for the Appropriations Committees to work on the appropriations bills which will detail the funding amounts provided for federal agencies and their programs. Though the committees are expected to complete their work, few bills are expected to be signed by the President this year.

Farm Bill

On Wednesday, June 18th, the President vetoed the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007 (H.R. 2419), otherwise known as the farm bill, for the second time. The President vetoed the bill for a second time because of a printing error which resulted in the bill being passed by Congress being different than the bill he signed. It is expected that the House and Senate will have enough votes to override the President’s veto.

The bill provides an additional $10.36 billion over 10 years for nutrition programs. Specifically, the bill provides $7.9 billion to increase food stamp benefits; $1.25 billion to purchase food for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which provides food for food banks; and $1 billion over 10 years to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for children in elementary schools. The bill also renames the Food Stamp program to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and provides a number of changes to the Food Stamp program.