U.S. Poverty Weekly Update March 3, 2015

March 3, 2015

U.S. Poverty Campaigns

Weekly Update | March 3, 2015

"Why is it that (lawmakers) are picking on the SNAP program? Because it works."

– Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, speaking at the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference yesterday (quoted in the Des Moines Register)

In This Week’s Update:

Quick Action: Urge Congress to Protect Hungry Children and Families

Take Action!

Got Two Minutes? Support Advocates on the Hill Today – Call Congress about Protecting SNAP!

Today, many of our REAL Change Fellows are in Washington, DC lobbying their members of Congress on issues of hunger and poverty. They are joined by advocates at the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference (which include RESULTS staff) sponsored by our friends at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). One of the issues they will be discussing with legislators and their staff is the future of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). It looks like SNAP is once again on the chopping block in budget negotiations (see more below). Support our Fellows and allies on the Hill today by calling your members of Congress and telling them to protect SNAP!

TAKE ACTION: To two minutes to call your House and Senate offices to tell them to protect SNAP in budget negotiations. Call the Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121 and ask for your representative’s or senator’s office. Once connected, leave this message with the receptionist:

My name is ______________ and I am a constituent from ____________________. Right now, one in five American children are going to bed hungry each night. Yet, Congress is considering drastic cuts to the SNAP (formerly food stamps), which would put even more children and families at risk of hunger and poverty. SNAP lifts millions out of poverty and is one the most efficient programs in government. I urge Rep./Sen. ________________ to tell budget negotiators that he/she opposes cuts to SNAP and will vote against any budget that would lead to cuts or restricting access to SNAP. Will you please give him/her that message?

Make sure you call your representative’s and both senators’ offices. If you cannot call today, tell Congress to protect SNAP by using our online e-mail alert.

Got Ten Minutes? Call Ag Aides about Protecting SNAP (March Action)

Over the next few weeks Congress will be working on a FY 2016 Budget Resolution. The federal budget resolution is the blueprint Congress sets for itself outlining the priorities for next year’s budget. Unfortunately, we anticipate that both the House and Senate will propose dramatic changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), one of our most effective programs at reducing poverty and helping children.

We don’t know what the proposal will look like until later this month, but it’s not hard to imagine. In 2014, House leaders proposed $137 billion in cuts to SNAP (over ten years). These changes would have forced millions of children and families off the program. We’re likely to see the same or worse this year. Now, the budget resolution likely won’t specify cuts to SNAP itself; budget resolutions don’t mandate specific cuts to specific programs (for a quick and handy guide on the federal budget process, see this graphic). It will instead order the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, which oversee SNAP, to cut a certain amount from their budgets. With proponents of cutting SNAP now heading both Agriculture Committees, you can guess where those cuts will come from. As Bob Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, recently said, "I think there's a good chance that the Republican budget resolution that's adopted in April will have reconciliation instructions to the agriculture committee with the assumption that there's cuts in SNAP.”

We will use several tactics this month to push back against these attacks on SNAP. Once we have a specific budget proposal to reference, we’ll work on generating letters to the editor and op-eds about protecting SNAP. Until that time, we want to take the message directly to Congress. This means calling the agriculture aides in your House and Senate offices, asking them to tell their bosses to urge budget negotiators to reject requests for additional cuts to programs overseen by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to call the agriculture aides in your House and Senate offices urging them to tell their bosses to protect SNAP. Specifically, their bosses should tell budget negotiators to reject requests to assign cuts to the Agriculture Committees in the budget resolution. The point persons for each of your members of Congress in your group should make these calls (each aide only needs one call from your group). The March Action has talking points for your conversations and background information. If you have questions or need coaching for your calls, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]). You can find aide names on our Elected Officials page. After your conversations, send the aides a copy of our SNAP Lobby Meeting Request.

Also, to help with our media outreach later this month, we will have a Media Training on Wednesday, March 18 at 8:00 pm ET on how to get letters to the editor and op-eds published. To join the meeting, go to: http://fuze.me/28074102. To join by phone, dial (201) 479-4595 and enter Meeting ID: 28074102. For questions, contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

Got Twenty Minutes? Register for the RESULTS International Conference

We’re only 137 days from the start of the 2015 RESULTS International Conference. This is the biggest event of the year for RESULTS, giving you the chance to hear from world-renowned speakers, get top-notch policy and advocacy trainings, and make your voice heard directly with your members of Congress. This year will be no different. We’ve already lined up some amazing speakers including economist Jeffrey Sachs, advocate and “Nun on the Bus” Sister Simone Campbell, and long-time congressional ally Sen. Sherrod Brown.

And now is the best time to register. If you are an active RESULTS volunteer, your registration is only $100! That’s right, you can have one of the best experiences of your year (maybe your life) for a C-note. If you are not an active volunteer, our standard registration is still a bargain at only $200. What are you waiting for?

Also, if you are age 18-28, please consider applying for our REAL Change Fellowship Program. REAL Change is a year-long fellowship program for young leaders we hope will become the next generation of RESULTS advocates and organizers. As part of the program, REAL Changers attend the RESULTS International Conference (with most of their expenses covered by the fellowship) and then put what they’ve learned into action back in their home communities. This is an amazing opportunity. If you meet the qualifications, apply for REAL Change today! Applications are due by April 25.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to register for the 2015 RESULTS International Conference today, July 18-21 in Washington, DC. Registration is OPEN at https://results.org/events/IC_2015/. If you meet the REAL Change qualifications, be sure to apply today.

Expanding Economic Mobility: New Bills on EITC and CTC

We have some encouraging news to report on our 2015 Economic Mobility campaign. Last week, Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA-1) introduced H.R. 902, the Earned Income Tax Credit Improvement and Simplification Act, which would make the 2009 improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) permanent, expand the EITC for workers without children in the home, and simplify the EITC for some couples with children. It is the same bill he introduced in the last Congress. It already has 52 co-sponsors. We also anticipate that Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3) will soon introduce a companion bill to make the Child Tax Credit (CTC) improvements permanent, as she did in the last Congress. Finally, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is planning to again introduce the Working Families Tax Relief Act, which would make important changes to the EITC and CTC including making the 2009 improvements permanent.

This good news comes on the heels of the House passing a number of tax bills a few weeks ago that would provide permanent tax cuts to corporations and wealthy individuals. When meeting with your members of Congress in March or April, remind them that working families should come first in any new tax legislation. Urge them to co-sponsor these bills and work to make the EITC and CTC improvements permanent, expand the EITC for workers without children, and support asset building for low-income families. See our new Economic Mobility Lobby Meeting Request for details on our requests. If you have an upcoming face-to-face meeting, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) to get personalized coaching for your meeting. If you have not requested a meeting for the next recess, make your request today!

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House: March 6-15, March 28-April 12; Senate: March 28-April 12. Request face-to-face meetings.

Groups Building in Atlanta, GA and Birmingham, AL, Wednesdays. We're getting folks trained to take action on EITC and SNAP, and gearing up for group events in March. Atlanta has a standing training webinar on Wednesday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. All are welcome. Contact Kristy Martino at [email protected] for details.

RESULTS Introductory Call, March 11. If you are new to RESULTS, learn more about our work by joining our next RESULTS Intro Call. The next call is this Wednesday, March 11 at 9:00 pm ET. Register for this or another call on the RESULTS website.

RESULTS Free Agents, March 17. Our U.S. Poverty Free Agents will meet on March 17 at 1:00 pm and 8:00 pm ET for their monthly support call. If you live in an area with no active RESULTS U.S. Poverty group, please join us online at: http://fuze.me/27491886 or by phone at (201) 479-4595, Meeting ID: 27491886. Contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for details.

Group Start in Colorado Springs, April 9. On April 9, we’re holding a community outreach event to start a new RESULTS U.S. Poverty group in Colorado Springs, CO. The event is 6:00 – 8:00 pm MT at Old Colorado City Library, Meeting Room, 2418 West Pikes Peak Ave, Colorado Springs, CO. Contact Kristy Martino at [email protected] for details.

Attend the RESULTS International Conference, July 18-21. Join us for the RESULTS International Conference at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC. This is the biggest event of the year for RESULTS. Register TODAY!

Find a list of the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff with contact information on the RESULTS website.

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