For Immediate Release
March 17, 2017
“The Trump Administration’s budget represents an abdication of responsibility to the American people and people around the world who depend on U.S. leadership. We call on Congress to reject this proposal and adopt a budget that reflects the real needs facing our nation and the world while supporting the most vulnerable among us.” – Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner
WASHINGTON – In response to the Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposed by the Trump Administration, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis and wider Reform Movement:
The federal budget is a document that reflects the administration’s values and priorities. It allocates funds for the programs and institutions that touch the lives of all Americans. That is why we are so deeply concerned about the budget proposed by the Trump Administration. Its drastic reduction in funding for critical human needs, environmental protection and international aid programs abdicate the federal government’s responsibility to the American people it serves and others worldwide who depend on U.S. leadership.
As we evaluate the federal budget, we are inspired by Zechariah 7:9-10, and the call to “deal loyally and compassionately with one another. Do not defraud the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor.”
This budget blueprint demonstrates particular disregard for programs essential to low-income communities, including low-income housing services vital for millions of Americans. It is indifferent to the evident impacts of climate change, cutting funding for the EPA by 31 percent, and eliminating funding for the Clean Power Plan and international climate change programs.
The budget reflects poor prioritization in the areas where funds are allocated, such as the $250 million for private school vouchers – a bad education policy that fails to meet the needs of public school students and undermines both the separation of church and state and religious freedom. Also included are funds that will support misguided, enforcement-only immigration policies, such as a down payment on the US/Mexico border wall, 500 new Border Patrol agents, 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as well as an increase in the detention and removal of undocumented immigrants.
On the international front, we appreciate that the budget honors the United States’ commitment of $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel, which is essential to maintaining a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, to advancing U.S. interests in the Middle East, and to Israel’s security. At the same time, we oppose the severe cuts to essential international aid, including reductions in contributions to United Nations agencies and the elimination of the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance account. U.S. interests are deeply entwined with a stable world order and U.S. engagement with the international community is vital to that effort.
The critical work done by non-profits, houses of worship and other non-governmental organizations to support and protect those in need makes our country and world stronger. But in its scope and abilities, the federal government is uniquely positioned to be a force for good across the nation. Private entities cannot fill the vacuum left by the government’s withdrawal from its critical responsibilities. As Reform Jews, we are called to build a world that is defined by wholeness, justice and compassion. Our focus is on protecting the most vulnerable members of our society. We call on Congress to reject the administration’s proposal and adopt a budget that reflects the critical needs facing our nation and the world.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.