- Comprehensive Immigration Reform
The Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act - S. 744 by a strong bi-partisan vote on June 27. The House, however, has shown no interest in moving this bill forward. We hear that perhaps the House might approach Immigration Reform on a piecemeal basis, addressing some provisions and not considering others. This is unfortunate, because anything short of a comprehensive approach will have unintended consequences and will not be a real solution to this critical problem
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The House/Senate Commissions set-up to reconcile the Farm Bill, of which SNAP is part, has not concluded its work. It appears that further severe cuts of SNAP benefits are a real possibility; these will be in addition to the cuts that have already taken place on November 1 of last year.
- Unemployment Insurance Extension
Unemployment benefits expired on December 28, leaving 1.3 million struggling unemployed workers and their families facing uncertainty and hardship. Congress allowed Unemployment Insurance to expire, right in the middle of the holidays, adding further stress to these families
As 2014 is an election year, many argue that re-election will be the focus by members of Congress, taking all their attention. Others think that perhaps between the primaries and the general elections, with many political uncertainties removed, there might be a window for achieving concrete progress, on issues such as immigration.
We believe that, in spite of 2014 being an election year, we should continue to expect from our elected representatives that they continue to take seriously their responsibility to address critical issues.
In a democratic system, elections are the way for us, ordinary citizens, to approve or disapprove the performance of our current representatives and perhaps replace them, if necessary. What a wonderful opportunity to hold them accountable!
We need to take this responsibility seriously and be clear with our elected representatives about our expectation that their job is to represent us and to address the critical issues, affecting the people we serve, with justice and compassion, while bearing in mind the common good.
The national apparatus of both parties tries to hold representatives hostage, forcing them to follow a rigid party discipline directed at consolidating their power. In addition, we all know how they try to defy the rules of democracy by periodic re-districting to perpetuate party advantage. Those are all practices we disagree with and they should be part of what we hold our representative accountable.
Democracy requires the checks and balances that can only be there through our active participation. Please do your best! Also, help other Vincentians to become comfortable with public life. Too many are still afraid of getting involved, afraid that others would see them as partisan when taking a position for the people we serve, afraid of committing to advocacy and justice.
"The problem which divides people today is not a political problem; it is a social one. It is a matter of knowing which will get the upper hand, the spirit of selfishness or the spirit of sacrifice; whether society will go for ever-increasing enjoyment and profit, or for everyone devoting themselves to the common good ..."
Blessed Frederic Ozanam