The Common Good

Members of Congress Join Fast for a Better Budget

Source: Sojourners
Date: April 7, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 7, 2011

CONTACT:

Tim King at tking@sojo.net / 202-631-7763 or

Evan Trowbridge at etrowbridge@sojo.net / 202-745-4625

Members of Congress Join Fast for a Better Budget

Jim Wallis, Ambassador Tony Hall and other faith leaders on eleventh day without food

Washington, D.C. - Members of Congress responded to a call today from former Congressman Tony Hall, Jim Wallis, David Beckmann, Moveon.org, SEIU, other faith leaders and more than 30,000 Americans to begin fasting in the midst of eleventh hour budget negotiations. Nine Members of Congress have committed to fast for one day and are expanding the call to other Congressional leaders. Sixteen more are expected to announce today and many more in the coming weeks.

The growing list of Congressional leaders committed to fasting includes Representatives Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Rosa DeLauro (D-OH), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Sam Farr (D-CA), Mike Honda (D-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

"I have always believed that budgets reflect who we are and what we believe in,” Rep. Barbara Lee said. "The budget that was unveiled this week in Congress falls significantly short of ensuring that low and middle-income families have access to healthy, nutritious meals. In fact, it makes it harder for vulnerable populations to combat hunger. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me and take part in this hunger fast. We need to band together to ensure we protect the most vulnerable populations and that no one in our country to goes to bed hungry.”

The fast was first announced on Monday, March 28th by Ambassador Hall and three other leaders - Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and Ritu Sharma, president of Women Thrive Worldwide - where they challenged people of faith and conscience to join them, pledging to put pressure on Congress to form a "circle of protection” around programs benefitting poor and hungry people.

"In 1993, as a Member of Congress, I went on a 22 day fast to protest the lack of conscience of the U.S. Congress towards poor and hungry people. Now, almost twenty years later, the stakes are even higher,” said Ambassador Tony Hall, announcing the beginning of the new fast protesting the proposed budget cuts that will hurt vulnerable people.

The budget cuts proposed by House Republicans represent a 2.6% cut in total spending, which includes a 26% cut in spending on poverty focused foreign aid. Many of the programs at stake once held bi-partisan support. The extension of Bush era-tax cuts last December will cost $6.7 billion through estate planning loopholes alone. Meanwhile, Congress is considering $7.6 billion cuts to domestic programs for low-income women, infants and children.

For weeks, individual organizations had been running their own advocacy campaigns, but formally announced a new coalition out of concern of the devastating effects proposed budget cuts could have on vulnerable people. Leaders of these organizations will be joining in fasting, prayer and other acts of personal sacrifice over the course of the next several weeks and inviting the their constituencies - together representing millions of Americans - to do the same.

The growing list of organizations in the HungerFast.org coalition includes:

ActionAid, Alliance to End Hunger, American Jewish World Service, Bread for the World, Center of Concern, Coalition on Human Needs, Congressional Hunger Center, FAO (One Billion Hungry Campaign), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Action Network, Feeding America, Five Talents, Food for the Hungry, Heifer Project International, Islamic Relief USA, Islamic Society of North America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Lutheran World Relief, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Meals on Wheels Association of America, MercyCorps, MoveOn.org, National Farmers Union, NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby, ONE, Opportunity International, Presbyterian Hunger Program, RESULTS, SEIU, Share Our Strength, Sojourners, Texas Hunger Initiative, The Hunger Project, Universities Fighting World Hunger, Women Thrive Worldwide, World Food Program USA, World Vision.

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Jim Wallis is the president and CEO of Sojourners, the largest network of social justice Christians in the United States focused on the biblical call to social justice. Wallis is also author of the New York Times bestsellers God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It and The Great Awakening: Seven Ways To Change The World,Reviving Faith & Politics. His latest book is Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street.

Sojourners' mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. Visit www.sojo.net, and www.GodsPolitics.com.