U.S. Poverty Weekly Update December 10, 2013
New and Urgent in This Week's Update (Two-Ten-Twenty Actions)
Latest from Washington, DC
Got Two Minutes? Join the RESULTS National Conference Call THIS Saturday at 2:00 pm ET (Note Different Time)
This weekend is the last RESULTS National Conference Call of 2013. This call will be a joint conference call with all RESULTS U.S. Poverty and Global Poverty volunteers. On the call, we will update you on the latest happening around the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and any final actions you can take to protect SNAP in the Farm Bill (see more below). We will also celebrate the many advocacy successes you have accomplished this year and look ahead to 2014. Join us for this important and inspiring call.
TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes and remind your local RESULTS group about the RESULTS monthly national conference call this Saturday, December 14 at 2:00 pm ET. Coordinate with your group where you will meet for the call. To join the call, dial (888) 409-6709 and once connected to the operator, ask for the RESULTS National Conference Call. Plan to call in no later than 1:55 pm ET to give time to the operator to connect you with the call.
We will have the December 2013 Conference Call Overview slides available later this week. You will find them on the RESULTS Home Page in the “Take Action” box in the top right-hand corner.
Got Ten Minutes? Tell Members of Congress to Protect SNAP in Farm Bill Negotiations (November Action and December Action preview)
This week, the Senate returns to DC from recess. We expect a lot of activity to take place around the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and the Farm Bill. The House plans to adjourn for the year this Friday so negotiators will be working furiously to get as much of the Farm Bill wrapped up before then. Even so, it is unlikely Congress will complete work on a new Farm Bill before January.
As things stand right now, negotiations are not going well for SNAP recipients. It was reported last week that Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), one of the lead negotiators, had agreed to at least $8 billion in cuts to SNAP (over ten years). While no details have been released yet, it is assumed that most of this cut will be to “Heat and Eat” programs in 15 states, which help increase SNAP benefits for people who receive benefits from the Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Those states are: CA, CT, ME, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, VT, WA, and WI. The cut would amount to an average loss of $90 per month in SNAP benefits for approximately 850,000 low-income households. The Farm Bill conference committee could meet this week to discuss this and other proposals. In addition to the SNAP cuts, the conference committee could vote on additional harmful amendments to SNAP.
Fortunately, the story isn’t over yet. Because negotiations are still taking place, we still have the opportunity to shape the final Farm Bill. Many of you have been contacting agriculture aides about protecting SNAP the last few weeks. With the Senate’s return to DC, this is good opportunity to follow up with them, check on the status of your recent request, and urge once more that their bosses weigh in with conference committee members about protecting SNAP. SNAP families are counting on us to do all we can to reduce hunger in America. Take action today to help fulfill that promise.
TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to follow up with your congressional agriculture aides about protecting SNAP. Tell them that you are frustrated and disheartened to hear that Senate negotiators are looking to cut SNAP by $8 billion and that you oppose these cuts. Remind them that in the last Farm Bill, Congress recognized the importance of combatting hunger and increased SNAP benefits, and that was before the Great Recession created even greater hardship for families. Also urge your members of Congress to tell conference committee members to vote NO on any harmful amendments that would undermine SNAP. We are waiting to send out the December Action until we know more details about this new SNAP proposal. In the meantime, the November Action, November Laser Talk, and our November Conference Call Resources can help you. Once you have made your calls, please let your Regional Coordinator or RESULTS staff person know how the call went and what the aide said.
Both the House and Senate are back in Washington this week (although offices are closed today because of weather). However, they won’t be there for long. The House plans to recess for the year this Friday, December 13 and the Senate will leave sometime next week. While in many ways this is frustrating considering how much work they still have to complete, it does present us with an opportunity. Because the Farm Bill and 2014 budget won’t be completed before they leave, you can use this recess to meet with members of Congress and tell them exactly how you want these issues resolved. Face-to-face meetings with representatives and senators are the best way you can influence them on these important priorities. RESULTS aims to meet with every representative and one-third of all senators we cover in 2014. Get started by putting in your face-to-face requests now.
TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to call or e-mail the schedulers for your members of Congress to set up face-to-face meetings. Ask to meet with them when they are home in December or early January. Also ask about any public events they may be holding during the holidays. Once you confirm a lobby meeting, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) or Jos Linn ([email protected]) for help in preparing for the meeting. Also, please remember to download and copy our 2013 SNAP, Tax Policy, and Early Childhood Lobby Meeting Requests Sheets to give to members of Congress or their staff at your meetings.
Also, please note that in January, we will encourage all RESULTS groups and Free Agents to participate in our annual group planning process. Group planning is one of our most important activities of the year because it allows you to envision your advocacy and outreach goals and put them into concrete action steps, including your strategies to get face-to-face meetings with your members of Congress. We will have group planning materials available in the next few weeks and on January 11, we will do actual planning on the RESULTS National Conference Call.
Potential Budget Deal Could Offer Some Relief to Early Childhood Programs; Join Early Childhood Tweetchat at 2:00pm ET Today
In addition to finishing a Farm Bill, federal budget negotiators are also facing a deadline to get something done. As part of the agreement to reopen the federal government back in October, a special budget commission was created to help reach an agreement on the fiscal year 2014 budget. The commission has until this Friday, December 13, to come up with a plan. Despite early pessimism that negotiators could reach a deal, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), the chairs of the Senate and House Budget Committees, appear to be close to reaching one. The alleged deal would fund the government for FY 2014 and 2015 at a level of about $1.015 trillion. What is important about that figure is that it is about $50 billion above the sequestration funding level mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Sequestration – automatic budget cuts that began in March – has been particularly hard on low-income programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start. As reported back in August, sequestration cuts have forced 57,000 children out of Head Start and laid off or cut salaries for 18,000 staff. Child care assistance programs are also feeling the pinch. It is short-sighted and wrong for successful but underfunded programs like Head Start and child care, which only serve a fraction of eligible children, to face additional and unnecessary cuts under sequestration. This additional funding, while not a full repeal of sequestration, is still welcomed news. It appears that the increased funding would be split relatively evenly among defense and non-defense programs (defense is scheduled to receive a deeper sequestration cut in 2014). The plan would also include funding levels for spending areas (Defense; Transportation; Labor, Health, Human Services and Education, etc.) but not spending levels for specific programs (House and Senate Appropriations Committee members would decide that). To pay for all this, negotiators are looking at changes to federal pensions and/or increasing security fees for airline passengers.
This news couldn’t come at a better time. Child Care Aware has released its updated annual report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, on the costs of child care. One of the findings is that in the last year, the cost of child care increased at up to eight times the rate of increases in family income. The report provides data across states, and offers evidence for child care as a workforce support and a sound investment for our national economy.
TAKE ACTION: Urge your members of Congress to fund Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care assistance at the highest possible levels in FY 2014. Use our online e-mail alert to send your message to representatives and senators today. In addition, if you have not done so already, please sign your local RESULTS group on as an endorser of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act. This Act would make significant new investments in early childhood education, targeted to children living in poverty.
Finally, if you use Twitter, use the hashtag #InvestInKids to join the National Women’s Law Center for a Tweet Chat today at 2:00 pm ET to raise awareness about early childhood investments. On this bi-partisan Tweetchat, NWLC and others will be discussing the Strong Start for America’s Children Act. Special guests joining us include the Department of Health and Human Services, Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Bob Casey, Sen. Tom Harkin, Marian Wright Edelman, and others. Here are some sample tweets to promote the chat – feel free to adapt them as needed:
RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff and volunteers have a lot to be happy this year with regard to outreach. Since the beginning of this year, we’ve added seven new RESULTS U.S. Poverty groups! Those groups are in Creston, IA; Whitefish, MT; Arlington, VA; Orange County, CA; Kansas City, MO; Cincinnati, OH; and Boston, MA. We’ve also re-started RESULTS groups with new members in Chicago, IL and Albuquerque, NM. In addition, new groups in West Los Angeles, CA; Waterloo, IA; and Baltimore, MD will complete their “new group training” this month or in early January. We are also working on starting new groups in Burlington VT; Portsmouth/Durham NH; Maine; Lexington, KY; Louisville, KY; Owensboro/Frankfort, KY; and Indianapolis, IN. And we just got word that, with invaluable help from Ken Patterson of the RESULTS Global Team, a new group has just started in Eagle Butte, SD! Wow!
This is by far our most successful expansion effort in recent memory. And it could not have happened without your help in getting these groups started. The genesis of many of these new groups came from a referral or interest from a RESULTS volunteer. This really is a team effort and we thank you for your help in growing RESULTS in 2013!
But we don’t want to rest on our laurels. While this expansion is certainly worth celebrating, we still need more. We need more people in more states raising their voices and pushing back at heartless efforts to abandon the fight against poverty. With more people standing up, we can realize a world without poverty. In 2014, we will look to you for your help and partnership in finding those important voices.
And why not get a head start. We have one more RESULTS Introductory Call in 2013, which is this Friday, December 13 at 1:00 pm ET. Give the gift of empowerment to someone this holiday season. Reach out to that friend or family member looking for the newest challenge and invite him/her to join the call. People can sign up for Friday’s call (or another upcoming call) at: http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.
The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents will be meeting for their monthly support call next week. The calls will be Monday, December 16 at 1:00 pm ET and Tuesday, December 17 at 9:00 pm ET. We repeat the call twice each month – one daytime, one evening – so pick whichever time is convenient for you. The NEW dial-in number is (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096. If you are an advocate in an area with no existing RESULTS U.S. Poverty group, join us for the call. On this call, we’ll celebrate actions people have taken over the last month, discuss the latest going on in DC, and review actions you can take to make an impact on poverty. We’ll also provide you the latest on what’s happening around SNAP and actions you can take before the holidays to protect SNAP and other programs from cuts. Be sure to join us.
Because Congress has yet again procrastinated on its agenda, no one is sure what major issues Congress will be dealing with next year. For RESULTS, this means we will not have our 2014 U.S. Poverty Campaigns confirmed until early 2014. However, we do have ideas for possible focus areas. On December 18, we will host a webinar overviewing our possible 2014 U.S. Poverty Campaigns. Because we value your input and feedback, please plan to participate in this presentation. The webinar is Wednesday, December 18 at 9:00 pm ET. To join from your computer or mobile device, click this link or copy it into your browser: http://fuze.me/22230495. To join the audio, simply select the internet audio option after joining or dial (201) 479-4595, meeting number 22230495# (toll-free (855) 346-3893, meeting number 22230495#).
Philly Area Folks – Attend Witness to Hunger Anniversary Event Tomorrow. If you live in the Philadelphia area, plan to attend the Witnesses to Hunger Anniversary Event on December 11. Witnesses to Hunger is a research and advocacy project partnering mothers and caregivers of young children who have experienced hunger and poverty. Kate Scully from Witnesses to Hunger was our guest speaker on the November 2013 RESULTS National Conference Call. The event is tomorrow, December 11, 2013, 6:00-9:00 pm ET at Drexel University's Bossone Research Center (First Floor Lobby and Mitchell Auditorium), 3140 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA. To learn more about and to RSVP for the event, visit the Witnesses to Hunger website.
Join the RESULTS December Matching Gift Challenge! A generous supporter has offered to match donations — up to $20,000 — made to RESULTS or RESULTS Educational Fund by the end of the year. That means every dollar you donate will be doubled! It’s simple: Any donation mailed or made online from today until December 31 will count towards this challenge. Let’s not leave money on the table — will you consider making an end-of-year gift that will have twice its impact? Go to the RESULTS website to make your donation today!
RESULTS Is Looking for a New England Organizer. The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Team is looking to hire an organizer for our expansion efforts in New England. The U.S. Poverty Grassroots Expansion Associate will be responsible for expanding the number of RESULTS grassroots chapters in New England of the U.S., starting at least three new groups by the end of 2014. The organizer will report to the Director of RESULTS U.S. Poverty Campaigns. This is a part-time 20 hour per week contract position available to start as soon as possible. There is a possibility of the position becoming a full-time staff member with additional responsibilities in the future. While some work will take place during the regular business day, work on weeknights and weekends will also be necessary. Some travel, primarily to nearby states, is required. For more information, see our announcement on the RESULTS website. Strong preference will be given to people who live in New England. Interested applicants should send a cover letter, resume and short writing sample to Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) by December 20, 2013.
For updates on all our U.S. Poverty Campaigns, see our U.S. Poverty Campaigns Summary on the RESULTS website.
(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)
Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House: December 13 – January 6; January 20-24; Senate: December (no date set) – January 5; January 20-24. Request face-to-face meetings.
Friday, December 13: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at http://www.results.org/take_action/become_a_results_activist/.
Saturday, December 14: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 2:00 pm ET. Note the different time; this will be a joint U.S. and Global Poverty call. Listen to previous conference calls online.
Monday, December 16: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 1:00 pm ET, (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096.
Tuesday, December 17: RESULTS U.S. Poverty Free Agents Call, 9:00 pm ET, (443) 453-0034, passcode 703096.
Wednesday, December 18: RESULTS 2014 U.S. Poverty Campaigns webinar, 9:00 pm ET. Go to http://fuze.me/22230495 to join the webinar. To join the audio, simply select the internet audio option after joining or dial (201) 479-4595, meeting number 22230495# (toll-free (855) 346-3893, meeting number 22230495#).
Wednesday, December 25 – Wednesday, January 1: All RESULTS offices closed for the holidays.
Saturday, June 21 - Tuesday, June 24: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. More details soon.
Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 466-1397, 1101 15th St NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil.
RESULTS U.S. Poverty Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff:
The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Update is sent out every Tuesday via email to RESULTS volunteers and allies all over the country. The purpose of these updates is to inform and activate RESULTS activists to take action on our U.S. poverty campaigns.