U.S. House Budget Proposal Disappoints Prelates

Takes Aid Away From the Poorest, They Say

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WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The proposed budget reconciliation bill of the House of Representatives fails to meet the expectations of U.S. bishops, who say the measures don’t protect the most vulnerable.

In a letter sent to the House on Nov. 8, the bishops cited several programs that serve the nation’s poor — often children — that will lose funds if the legislation passes in its current form.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, chairman of the Domestic Policy Committee of the U.S. bishops’ conference, and Bishop John Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, chairman of their International Policy Committee, signed the letter.

Last February, the conference president, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, wrote a similar letter urging Congress to remember that budget decisions “will reflect not only economic policies but moral choices as well,” and “to give priority attention in the budget to the needs of poor and vulnerable people both here and abroad.”

The bishops said they were writing now to reiterate those priorities, and to share their view on how the bill may impact several key programs and the people they serve.

The bishops underlined the negative affects the cuts will have on the food stamp program, health care for the poor, temporary assistance for needy families, child support funds, and agricultural programs that promote conservation.

“We urge you to remember that the federal budget is more than a fiscal plan; it reflects our values as a people,” wrote the bishops.

The letter urged the House to “work for a budget that does not neglect the needs of the ‘least of these’ in our nation and the world.”

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ZENIT Staff

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