Funding bill signed
The U.S. Congress reached an agreement for funding the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2017 in a deal that was signed into law on May 5. The bill did not include money to begin construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, nor did it include major cuts to any federal agency. It did, however, include increased spending for border security and immigrant detention, as well as a $15 billion increase in military spending.
Also included was nearly $1 billion in new funding for famine relief. But the remaining funds for international affairs dipped slightly below last year’s levels. The bill contained no funding for the Green Climate Fund, but it did maintain 99 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. Read more.
Immigration: On April 11, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal attorneys to prosecute more individuals for immigration-related offenses. On April 25, a federal judge blocked some portions of an executive order calling for federal funding to be withheld from so called “sanctuary cities.” The Trump administration in reportedly considering ending Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in the U.S. Read more about these and other issues in the April 30 immigration update: English | Spanish.
North Korea: With increasing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, the House approved new sanctions legislation last week, particularly focused on North Korea’s shipping and labor sectors. Resource: Frequently asked questions
Pennsylvania state advocacy efforts: MCC East Coast is now supporting state-level advocacy efforts in Pennsylvania through a partnership with the Pennsylvania Council of Churches. Advocacy priorities include immigration, criminal justice reform and gun violence prevention. Read more. | If you live in Pennsylvania, sign up for Pennsylvania Council of Churches updates.
July 4-8: Mennonite Church USA convention, Orlando, Fla. – MCC Washington staff will lead workshops on Palestine and Israel, Syria, immigration and criminal justice.
During the last month our staff met with students from Calvin College and also Christopher Dock High School. We were also glad to meet with seven Brethren in Christ and Mennonite pastors who were in town for a Missio Alliance conference. On April 21, Cherelle M. Dessus met with students at The Philadelphia High School for Girls to speak about the Washington Office, mass incarceration and service opportunities at MCC.
On April 30, Tammy Alexander spoke at an educational forum for faith leaders on immigration, refugees, and asylum seekers in Lancaster, Pa., sponsored by the Citizens’ Immigration and Refugee Action Committee (CIRAC), Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster Interfaith Coalition and the Lancaster County Council of Churches.
We also enjoyed participating in Ecumenical Advocacy Days and were thrilled to see nearly 20 participants from Lee Heights Community Church. Other congregations can take this as a challenge, to see if they can send more people than that next year! If you weren’t able to attend Ecumenical Advocacy Days, you can watch the plenary speeches online.