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  • Writer's pictureDavid Beckmann

Religion News Service just published an essay I wrote about new data from the United Nations on global progress against poverty: It shows that the pandemic has caused a tremendous setback, but that some progress against poverty continues.

Those of you who receive my blog posts know that I find the world's dramatic progress against poverty religiously important. It's like the exodus of the Bible, a contemporary experience of God's love for humanity. God is surely calling for us to do what we can to continue the progress that is so clearly feasible.

I don't think it's feasible anymore to overcome hunger and extreme poverty by 2030, but the fact that hundreds of millions of the world's poorest people have managed to climb back from their losses during the pandemic is encouraging.

U.S. government leadership on global poverty issues is an important part of what's needed to get back on a trajectory toward virtually ending hunger and extreme poverty. Yet House Republicans, swayed by their most extreme members, are this week poised to approve brutal cuts in poverty-focused international aid.

Notes from home to Democrats and centrist Republicans can encourage them to protect poverty-focused international aid in the compromise that will be needed to re-open the government. The current attack on international aid also adds further to the case for giving time and money to Democrats in the upcoming elections.

  • Writer's pictureDavid Beckmann

New Census data show hat Congress' failure to continue pandemic assistance programs has led to the biggest jump in poverty in 50 years. Census data from prior years show that Congress substantially reduced U.S. poverty during the pandemic, but then allowed it to surge again - a clear demonstration of the importance of government programs that help poor and hungry people.

I tell this important story in my new Religion News Service op-ed, which I urge you to read:

I also want to flag the immediate need for advocacy with our senators to secure needed funding for WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program).

House Republicans are again insisting on deep cuts to poverty-focused programs and threatening to shut the government if they don't get their way. The Senate is trying to approve part of the appropriations package this week. Because of recent rises in food prices and participation, they need to add $1.4 billion to what the Senate Agriculture Committee approved. Otherwise, WIC will, for the first time in a very long time, have to turn away some mothers and children who are clearly in need of nutrition assitance.

  • Writer's pictureDavid Beckmann

In order to avoid a government shutdown, Congress must come to some agreement this month on appropriations for the fiscal year that starts on October 1. Compromise on the final appropriations package seems by that deadline seems impossible, but they could instead agree to continue current levels of appropriations through the end of the year. They might also finalize decisions in a few areas of appropriations on which there is agreement.

The church leaders in the Circle of Protection just sent a letter to every member of Congress and the President, mainly to urge protection for poverty-important programs, notably WIC (nutrition assistance for small children and pregnant women) and emergency aid for the alarming number of the world's people who are now suffering extreme hunger in countries like South Sudan and Afghanistan. I think you'll appreciate both the policy analysis and religious language in the Circle letter at this link:

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