Funding bills for 2018 moving forward
On July 27, the House of Representatives passed a “security minibus” set of spending bills for fiscal year 2018. It includes $1.6 billion for 70 miles of additional physical barriers along the southwest border with Mexico. House leadership added the border wall money in such a way that no separate vote was required.
The bill also includes $658 billion in spending for the military. Ultimately, the minibus is likely to be altered significantly (or ignored completely) in the Senate, because the total funding level exceeds current spending caps.
Also in July the House Appropriations Committee approved the bill that funds foreign assistance, with a steep cut of $10 billion from last year’s level. So far the Senate has indicated that it will keep the numbers closer to last year’s level when their version of the bill moves in September.
Criminal justice: The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa), passed the Senate on August 1. The bill provides a nationwide juvenile justice planning and advisory system, federal funding for delinquency prevention, and research and evaluation of state and local programs.
Immigration: The Trump administration continues to ramp up immigration enforcement, including raids on the sponsors of children seeking asylum. Amid increasing threats to the continuation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the Dream Act was reintroduced in Congress. The RAISE Act, which would significantly restrict legal immigration, was introduced in the Senate and endorsed by the White House. Read about these issues and more in the July Immigration Update: English | Spanish
Maternal health: On July 27, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) reintroduced the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (S. 1730). It would increase the effectiveness and impact of maternal and child survival programs.
Nigeria: On August 2, the Department of Defense posted official notification of the upcoming arms sale to Nigeria, including 12 Super Tucano aircraft estimated to cost $593 million. The country’s military faces allegations of human rights abuses, and a humanitarian crisis continues in northeast Nigeria.
Syria crisis: The U.S. government is ending the CIA program to train and equip Syrian opposition forces, although a Defense Department program for groups fighting ISIS continues. Separately, an amendment by Rep. Lee (D-Calif.) to require a new “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” for U.S. military efforts in the region passed easily through the House Appropriations Committee but was later stripped out of the bill.
Responsibility for the legacy of war (Vietnam)
Two stones, two justice systems (Palestine and Israel)
In early July, Cherelle, Tammy and Rachelle led seminars on a variety of topics and participated in Mennonite Church USA’s convention in Orlando.
On July 11, Charles Kwuelum spoke at a congressional briefing on famine and humanitarian crisis in northeastern Nigeria. The event was attended by bipartisan staffers from the House and Senate.
On July 19, our office hosted Katherine Jameson Pitts, conference minister for Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference, and Bernard Sejour, pastor of Solidarity and Harmony Church in Philadelphia. The two participated in an advocacy day for poverty-focused foreign assistance.
In the last several weeks we’ve had the pleasure of hosting several groups, including the senior class of Iowa Mennonite School, a group from Eastern Mennonite Seminary, and interns and service workers from MCC’s office in Akron, Pa.