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Positive Developments in Budget Deal, But More Must Be Done to Protect Vulnerable Americans

Positive Developments in Budget Deal, But More Must Be Done to Protect Vulnerable Americans

Contact: Max Rosenblum or Tyler Dratch
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 16, 2015 — In response to the announcement of a congressional budget agreement, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement: 

“The omnibus budget bill, true to its nature as a large and complex package, has pluses and minuses. We have long called on Congress to make permanent the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), which this deal achieves. The EITC and CTC represent two of America’s most effective anti-poverty programs, and the permanence of these improvements will ensure that the credits continue to help working families support themselves. Congress should continue to strengthen these programs by indexing the Child Tax Credit so it maintains its value, and increasing the value of the EITC for childless workers so that they are no longer taxed into poverty.

At the same time, the budget could and should have done more to protect the most vulnerable in our country and we will continue to work to realize that. In a nation where 3.7 million households with children face food insecurity and four million people will experience homelessness this year, we must commit ourselves to major investments in programs that help those in need. Yet the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program did not receive much-needed additional funding, threatening its ability to provide adequate nutrition to new mothers and their infants. And there was not a significant increase to the Housing Choice Voucher Program, placing strain on many housing agencies that provide affordable housing around the country.

We also note with approval that this budget is free of many of the most harmful policy riders proposed over the past number of weeks – such as blocking the entry of Syrian refugees to the United States or defunding Planned Parenthood. The absence of such misguided policies means that this budget will not abandon our nation’s historic commitment to serving as a refuge to those in need and millions of women across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for health screenings and care will continue to be able to access those vital services.

The Jewish tradition compels each of us to “speak up, judge righteously, and champion the poor and needy (Proverbs 14:31). These bills respond to that call, but there is so much more we must do to make our vision of a more whole world a reality.”

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.3 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.

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