Congress

Daniel Burke 11-08-2012

U.S. Representative-elect Tulsi Gabbard will become the first Hindu in Congress.

Congress will become a shade more religiously diverse this January, after Tuesday’s election of the first Hindu representative and first Buddhist senator.

Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii, will become the first Hindu-American congresswoman, after defeating her Republican rival on Tuesday.

Heather Boushey 11-02-2012

We know how policymakers can fight unemployment. They're just not doing it.

Mark Charles 8-30-2012

Dancer in full dance regalia at the Cal State Long Beach Annual Pow Wow. March 11, 2007. Photo by Jose Gil/Shutterstock.

In December, I will be hosting a public reading of the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I am doing so because page 45 of this 67 page document contains a generic, non-binding apology to native peoples on behalf of the citizens of the United States.

The text of the apology included in the defense appropriations bill reads:

Apology to Native Peoples of the United States

Sec. 8113. (a) Acknowledgment and Apology- The United States, acting through Congress —

(1) recognizes the special legal and political relationship Indian tribes have with the United States and the solemn covenant with the land we share;

(2) commends and honors Native Peoples for the thousands of years that they have stewarded and protected this land;

(3) recognizes that there have been years of official depredations, ill-conceived policies, and the breaking of covenants by the Federal Government regarding Indian tribes;

(4) apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States;

(5) expresses its regret for the ramifications of former wrongs and its commitment to build on the positive relationships of the past and present to move toward a brighter future where all the people of this land live reconciled as brothers and sisters, and harmoniously steward and protect this land together;

(6) urges the President to acknowledge the wrongs of the United States against Indian tribes in the history of the United States in order to bring healing to this land; and

(7) commends the State governments that have begun reconciliation efforts with recognized Indian tribes located in their boundaries and encourages all State governments similarly to work toward reconciling relationships with Indian tribes within their boundaries.

This apology was not publicized by the White House or Congress. As a result, a majority of the 350 million citizens of the United States do not know they have been apologized for, and most of the 5 million Indigenous Peoples of this land do not know they have been apologized to.

Jim Wallis 8-02-2012
Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis

Editor's Note: The following remarks were given on Capitol Hill on Aug. 1 as part of a call from faith leaders across the religious spectrum urging Congress to extend the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit for low- and moderate-income Americans. 

A budget is a moral document. That phrase was coined by the faith community and has become a refrain in the ongoing debates over deficits and budgets. But in this week’s House vote on extending the Bush era tax cuts, we see one more example of the priorities and principles of the broader GOP budget and how they apply to the rich and to the poor. Because of this, we must conclude that the Republican budget is an immoral document—in the way it treats the poor. I certainly don’t believe that all our Republican lawmakers came to Washington to hurt poor people, but it’s time for some of them to challenge the dominant forces in their party and face the consequences of such indefensible choices.

We have a genuine hope for a long term bi-partisan solution and, in particular, a moral non-partisan commitment to protect the poor and vulnerable from being expendable in these fiscal debates. We should also say that Democratic budgets have not been models of fiscal responsibility and social justice, either. But what the House budget is calling for is morally objectionable on religious and biblical grounds—and people of faith from all political stripes should say so. In particular, to roll back tax credits for the poor to help fund tax breaks for the rich is morally reprehensible, and the faith community has to speak out.

Duane Shank 6-20-2012

Breaking news this afternoon –

"A House panel voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for failing to cooperate with a congressional inquiry into Operation “Fast and Furious,” hours after President Obama asserted executive privilege over related documents. On a party-line decision, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 23 to 17 to hold Holder in contempt for failing to share documents related to the operation run out of the Phoenix division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives between 2009 and 2011, with the backing of the U.S. attorney in Phoenix. The move makes Holder the first member of Obama’s Cabinet held in contempt by a congressional committee."

Columnist Al Kamen wonders why Holder should be concerned about the vote

"While he would be the first Obama administration official to undergo such a vote, he would be joining a long list of well-known officials from prior administrations who lost committee — or even full House or Senate — contempt votes, including two former attorneys general, according to a list compiled by the Congressional Research Service last month."

It’s also not the first time a President has invoked executive privilege to prevent Congress from getting internal administration information, just another round in the perpetual White House vs. Congress struggle.

Mitch Hescox 6-20-2012
Chemical factory image,  Nickolay Khoroshkov / Shutterstock.com

Chemical factory image, Nickolay Khoroshkov / Shutterstock.com

In a full vote Wednesday morning the Senate rejected a measure intended to roll back the Environmental Protection Agency's implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), a rule that would limit mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants. 

As Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said, “We don’t want to make the Great Smokies the Great Smogies.” 

For the past four years, we have heard angry cries and even threats over the government bailouts for big banks, the auto industry and others during this economic downturn. Senators and representatives have lost their jobs over these bailouts. Yet Congress has been giving special breaks and what amounts to subsidies to the coal-fired utility industry for more than 20 years. It’s not taxpayer money but the health and life of our children that is being spent. 

the Web Editors 5-21-2012
Graphic by SunlightFoundation.com

Graphic by SunlightFoundation.com

According to the Sunlight Foundation:

Congress now speaks at almost a full grade level lower than it did just seven years ago, with the most conservative members of Congress speaking on average at the lowest grade level, according to a new Sunlight Foundation analysis of the Congressional Record using Capitol Words.

Of course, what some might interpret as a dumbing down of Congress, others will see as more effective communications. And lawmakers of both parties still speak over the heads of the average American, who reads at between at 8th and 9th grade level.

via Getty Images

via Getty Images

We’ve been hearing a lot in the news media lately about women’s bodies. Just when we thought the messy fight over contraception was over, Democrats and Republicans are butting heads again over renewal of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, a once widely supported bill that is now being met with opposition from Republicans due to new provisions that “would allow more battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas, and would include same-sex couples in programs for domestic violence,” according to the New York Times.

the Web Editors 2-29-2012

GDP Revised Up To 3 Percent In Fourth-Quarter; Why Foreign Assistance Is Still Important; Syrian Army Assaults Rebel Districts; Public Views Of The Divide Between Religion And Politics; What Did Congress Do To Combat Poverty In 2011? Virtually Nothing (OPINION); Environmental Justice A Form Of Social Justice (OPINION); Occupy LSX May Be Gone, But The Movement Won't Be Forgotten; World’s Extreme Poverty Cut In Half Since 1990; Poverty Resolutions, Microloan Nonprofit, Shows How Far $1 Can Go To Provide Jobs For Poor; Alabama Lawmakers Calls For Immigration Law Repeal.

the Web Editors 2-13-2012

Obama Budget: National Debt Will Be $1 Trillion Higher In A Decade Than First Forecast; Why Evangelicals Must Defend Muslims; Obama's Election-Year Budget To Target Rich; GE To Hire 5,000 U.S. Veterans, Investing In Plants; Is Class War Unfolding In GOP Primaries?; It's The Wealth Gap, Stupid; From The Pulpit And In The Pew, The Knicks’ Lin Is A Welcome Inspiration; Ethics Issues Tarnish Congressional Image; Senate GOP Push For Keystone Vote On Highway Measure; Obama Administration Slows Environmental Rules As It Weighs Political Cost.

the Web Editors 2-09-2012

Color The 1 Percent 99 Percent Conflicted; Congress Looks To Ethics Bill To Boost Public Image; Rick Santorum: The 'Church' Candidate; States Negotiate $26 Billion Deal For Homeowners; Religious Right Bashes Green Evangelicals For Supporting EPA Rules; Obama, Explained; Four Ways The U.S. Could End Up At War With Iran Before The Election; Employment Rate For Young Adults Lowest In 60 Years, Study Says; Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline: The Facts Deserve Repeating (OPINION); Study: GOP Votes Drive Public Opinion On Climate Change.

God's Politics 2-07-2012

The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation Tuesday that would reverse President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

the Web Editors 2-03-2012

Politics And Prayers; Senate Passes Insider-Trading Bill; What Childhood Poverty Means (OPINION); Nation-Building Vs. Al-Qaeda-Crushing In Afghanistan; Should All Americans Have To Earn Their Citizenship?; That Former Slave Who Wrote His Ex-Master Never Went Back To Him; NC's Heath Shuler Won't Seek Re-Election To House; Syria: It’s Not Just About Freedom (OPINION); Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate For Returning Veterans Fell 6 Percentage Points.

Lisa Sharon Harper 2-03-2012

“You don’t know what you have here in America, you know?” said the cabby who drove me home from the airport. When his father died in Ethiopia, he had to drop out of his American university where he was studying computer engineering to start driving cabs to support his family back in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has no social safety net.

“In America,” said my cab driver, “you have services and programs that help keep families together in hard times.” He hasn’t seen his family in nine years. His cab-drivers’ salary is hardly enough to pay for a plane ticket to Ethiopia. Besides, if he takes time off, that would be less food, education, and possible eviction for his mother, brothers and sisters.

While it is true that America has a social safety net, it is weaker than it was just forty years ago and it’s come under more intense attack in recent years. The deficit is the justification for shredding the net now. And extremists are pushing the party that claims a lock on “family values” to nullify the programs that protect at-risk American families from slipping into poverty.

In the name of “fiscal responsibility,” the Tea Party-led House GOP passed H.R. 1956, a bill that takes cash from the hands of America’s poorest working families in order to protect the richest of the rich. H.R. 1956 requires workers to present a Social Security Number rather than an IRS issued Individual Tax Identification Number to claim the child tax credit. Seems simple enough, but the bill is crafted to target working immigrant families the hardest, even if they are legal residents or have children that are American citizens. The GOP called this a compromise. H.R. 1956 is what they offered in return for the extension of the Payroll Tax cut. Congress could have paid for that extension by ending the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which were set to expire on January 1, 2012. But the GOP said absolutely not. Instead, they crafted H.R. 1956.

Marie Dennis 2-01-2012

With U.S. troops now in Africa to escalate the fight against the Lord's Resistance Army, clergy in the region express concern.

the Web Editors 1-27-2012

Marco Rubio Calls For A Shift In Rhetoric On Immigration; Davos Head Offers To Meet With Occupy Protesters; UN Rights Chief Calls For Them To Be Heard; Global Evangelical Body Plans Egyptian Summit, Calls For Worldwide Prayer; For GOP, Dislike For Obama Trumps All; Who Are Evangelicals?;congre A Scalpel, Not A Hatchet; Climate Change Goes Back To Square Zero; Rick Santorum: Gingrich And Romney ‘Bought Into The Global Warming Hoax’.

Cathleen Falsani 1-25-2012

On the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon, a year and 17 days after she was shot in the head by a would-be assassin's bullet, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords tendered her resignation as representative of Arizona's 8th Congressional District.

An unusually emotional scene unfolded in the House chamber, with many members of Congress struggling — and failing — to keep their composure as Gifford's close friend, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, tearfully read the resignation letter on Gifford's behalf.

Carrie Adams 1-17-2012
Internet. Blackout. Image via Wylio http://bit.ly/wQpju4

Surfing the Internet during the 2011 Blackout, Oceanside, Calif. Image via Wylio http://bit.ly/wQpju4

You’re on the Internet right now.

Maybe you’re on your phone, or your iPad, or even your desktop at work (it's OK, your secret's safe with us). No matter what your choice of access media, if you’re reading this, you’re on the Internet.

Most of us take Internet access for granted. (Who can remember life before Google?) A seemingly endless, free-to-all source of information, knowledge and distraction, the Internet drives and facilitates transactions both inconsequential and global, simple and complex.

Certainly the Internet has a seedy underbelly, from spammers and basement-dwelling sport hackers to illicit businesses and toxic enterprises.

But who polices it? Who’s the Internet Sheriff?

the Web Editors 1-11-2012
Human Trafficking Awareness Day

It's National Human Trafficking Awareness Day! Photo courtesy of the Not for Sale Campaign

Today people across the nation (and the blogosphere) are taking part in National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which encourages participants to get educated and get active in the fight to end the suffering of the estimated 27 million persons living in slavery today.

In his speech declaring January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, President Obama intimated a serious commitment to the fight to end modern slavery. This year, Obama and Congress have the opportunity to make historic, bipartisan progress toward this worthy goal.

And it’s not just government that’s getting involved. Just last week, over 42,000 young Christians banded together at Passion 2012 to raise more than $3.1 million dollars to fund organizations fighting to bring prevention, freedom and restoration to those trapped in slavery.

Sojourners has long been committed to the fight to end this abhorrent evil, and the current issue of Sojourners Magazine seeks to engage the topic head-on. 

Inside, we invite you to explore our coverage and involvement in the fight against human trafficking over the past year!

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