house of representatives

the Web Editors 06-22-2016

Screenshot via RepJohnLewis /

Coming on the heels of a filibuster in the Senate, House Democrats are staging their own act of political theater in a push for legislation on gun violence.

Led by Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a group of Democrats are holding a sit-in on the floor of the House. 

the Web Editors 06-16-2016

Image via  /

A group of Republicans in the House of Representatives is working on legislation to ban all refugees from settling in the United States, reports Foreign Policy.

While the proposed legislation sounds similar to Donald Trump’s proposal to block immigration from all “areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism,” the refugee ban makes no distinctions based on country of origin.

Jim Wallis 10-15-2015
Image via JP Keenan / Mc LOVIN / Shutterstock

In case you missed it, a strong and militant group of Republican members of Congress have pushed out their caucus leaders, paralyzed the House of Representatives, and can’t seem to find anyone who is as right-wing as they are to be the next Speaker.

These guys — and they are almost all guys; among 36 documented members, only one is a woman — call themselves the Freedom Caucus. And with the exception of one Latino from Utah, the members of this invitation-only group are all white.

The ideology of the Freedom Caucus is far to the right and they want procedural commitments from any new Speaker that would allow them to effectively prevent any compromises with Democrats, and allow them to shut down the government when their extreme demands are not met.

Last week, evangelical congregations across America began screening a documentary called The Stranger: Immigration, Scripture and the American Dream, produced by a group called the Evangelical Immigration Table. Among EIT’s advocates are a host of uncommon bedfellows: Mathew Staver of the Liberty University School of Law and Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Leith Anderson of the National Association of Evangelicals and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and popular pastors Max Lucado and Wilfredo de Jesús.

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

An interfaith coalition has again asked the U.S. House of Representatives to reject a prayer plaque at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The proposed plaque, which is under the consideration of a House subcommittee, would feature a prayer spoken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the radio on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

“O Lord, give us Faith,” it reads in part. “Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade.” It concludes with, “Thy will be done, Almighty God.”

The coalition — a mix of religious and secular organizations that includes the Center for Inquiry, a humanist organization; three Jewish groups; the Hindu American Foundation; and the United Methodist Church – said the prayer does not reflect the religious diversity of the United States.

the Web Editors 09-20-2013
Politician swearing oath with fingers crossed, Minerva Studio /

Politician swearing oath with fingers crossed, Minerva Studio /

Yesterday, before Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to push through a plan to slash nearly $40 billion from the food stamp program, Jim Wallis said we would keep an eye on which way of our elected officials voted.

"We will be watching who votes against feeding the hungry this week and will remember to bring that to public attention when they run for re-election. We will be doing our own faith count today. Stay tuned for the results."

Well here are the results. The plan passed narrowly, 217-210 — with all the yea votes coming from the Republican side. Fifteen Republicans joined with the Democrats against the plan. 

So, who voted for that $40 billion cut to the food stamps program, which would kick an estimated 4 million hungry people out of the program next year? Here's your list. Is your Congress member on it?

Ivone Guillen 08-28-2013
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.)

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.)

As Congress left Washington for August recess, advocates for immigration reform knew it would be a critical month for the effort to fix our broken immigration system. Legislators would be talking with their constituents at countless events about the issue and gauging how public opinion had (or hadn’t) shifted based on the Senate’s recent passage of a bipartisan bill.

Several officials used recess as an excuse for increasing their attacks on immigrants in an attempt to stop the growing momentum across the country for finding a solution to this challenge. For example, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has stated: “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

Thankfully, other members have been far more constructive. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) embraced immigration reform and the need to provide a path to legalization for the millions of aspiring Americans who are already major contributors to our communities and our economy. He was clear that his motivations were rooted in his religious beliefs, saying: “with my Christian faith, it’s hard for me to say that I’m gonna divide these families up.”

Jim Wallis 07-25-2013
Brandon Hook / Sojourners

Evangelical leaders rally support before visiting members of Congress July 24. Brandon Hook / Sojourners

“This is a day that the Lord has made.”

Those words begin a very popular worship song among evangelical Christians. And they were the first words that came to my mind when I stood alongside the widest spectrum of evangelical leaders we have ever seen at a gathering yesterday morning on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. We were there to lead a day of prayer and discussion with the leaders of the House of Representatives about the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform — more specifically to fix a system that is not only broken, but cruel for millions of people.

The whole day was sponsored and led by the Evangelical Immigration Table, one of the most hopeful signs in many years of how Christians can come together to make a difference. At the press conference, Christianity Today editor Andy Crouch, speaking as a journalist, said he has never seen such evangelical unity over any other issue



QR Blog Editor 07-24-2013

While many groups are focused on the upcoming congressional recess and on outreach efforts to their members of Congress in their home districts, evangelical Christians have another priority in mind this week.

Today, hundreds of evangelicals from across the country will gather on Capitol Hill to host the Pray4Reform Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action. The day includes a press conference, worship service, and a full day of meetings at congressional offices to urge immigration reform. 

You can follow the day’s events by visiting, where the news conference and worship service will be live streamed. Also, follow and join the conversation via social media by following the hashtag #pray4reform.

QR Blog Editor 07-22-2013

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio said in an interview with CBS on Sunday that “immigration reform isn’t about him.” Denying CBS’s Bob Corner insight in to his own personal views on immigration, Boehner refused to share details about what parts of the immigration bill he feels should pass the House when it comes time for their final debates. Boehner, who is opposed to granting citizenship for illegal immigrants, claimed the bill which passed the Senate last month will “not pass the House.”

The Guardian reports:

The Senate has passed a sweeping, bipartisan immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship, which Republican opponents have called an "amnesty" that would reward lawbreakers and attract more illegal immigrants. Boehner said taking a personal stand on the issue would make it harder for him to find consensus on immigration in the House.

Read more here.

QR Blog Editor 07-15-2013

The number of those who’ve benefitted from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increased nearly seven percent from 8.7 in 2007 to 15.2 in its most recent study. Despite the economic challenges America has faced over the past several years, the Houses’ decision to do away with food stamps has not only caused controversy between the House and the Senate but has caused controversy between the government and the American people. The New York Times reports: 

Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.

Read more here.

QR Blog Editor 07-12-2013

For the first time in 50 years, the House of Representatives cut mention of food stamps in the Farm Bill, which passed the House yesterday. The Supplemental Nutrion Assistance Program has historically made up nearly 80 percent of funding in such bills. Following the 216-to-208 vote, the House's decision to go through with the ruling has both parties defensive. The Washington Post reports:

"The vote made clear that Republicans intend to make significant reductions in food stamp money and handed Republican leaders a much-needed victory three weeks after conservative lawmakers and rural state Democrats revolted and blocked the original version of the bill that included food stamp money."

Read more here.


QR Blog Editor 05-15-2013

The House’s bipartisan immigration group is struggling to reach an agreement on immigration legislation. The group is divided over many aspects of the legislation including the employment verification program. Republicans want to eliminate the legalization process for undocumented immigrants if the employment verfiication program is not in place in five years. They are also divided over health care for undocumented immigrants and the number of visas to be issued to low-skilled or guest workers. Politico reports:

“I certainly will say that … there still are some outstanding issues in our negotiations,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California said in an interview Tuesday. “But I still believe that we’re so very close.”

Read more here.

Rose Marie Berger 02-14-2013

Following more than 200 houses of worship being denied FEMA aid following Superstorm Sandy, on Feb. 13, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 592 with a vote of 354-72, to clarify that houses of worship are “eligible for certain disaster relief and emergency assistance on terms equal to other eligible private nonprofit facilities, and for other purposes.” From The Hill:

Supporters of the bipartisan bill, H.R. 592, said federal aid to houses of worship is not a violation of the Constitution when that aid is meant to be used broadly for a range of affected entities. In those cases, federal aid need not be withheld from houses of worship that are, like many others, seeking to repair their buildings from storm damage.

"There is no intrinsically religious purpose in providing disaster assistance," said Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), a supporter of the bill.

Read more HERE.

Sandi Villarreal 12-12-2012
Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

Sen. Claire McCaskill (left) speaks with Stephanie Cutter and others about the women's vote. Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

Everyone in the political sphere, on cable television, and most certainly in Washington, D.C., has only one thing on the mind pre-Christmas, and it isn’t the fat guy in the red suit (and/or Jesus). It’s the fiscal cliff. 

And while it’s an incredibly important — and incredibly complex — debate, it’s not the only one worth having right now. 

There’s this other thing — this thing that has been happening on a bipartisan basis for eighteen years — that is sitting in the House of Representatives right now while our national confidence in Congress sits at about 6 percent, and our senators are filibustering their own bills. It’s the Violence Against Women Act. This seemingly procedural piece of legislation — which usually is reauthorized without question whenever it comes up — is in danger of expiring if the House doesn’t act before the end of session. 

“This should not be controversial. This is something that should be capable of passing on a voice vote,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D – Mo.) said on Wednesday at a panel discussion on the women’s vote. 

Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, RNS photo courtesy Tulsi Gabbard's campaign

Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, RNS photo courtesy Tulsi Gabbard's campaign

Three Buddhists, a Hindu, and a “none” will walk into the 113th Congress, and it’s no joke. Rather, it’s a series of “firsts” that reflect the growing religious diversity of the country.

When the new Congress is sworn in next January, Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, will represent the state’s 2nd Congressional District and will become the first Hindu in either chamber on Capitol Hill.

The 31-year-old Gabbard was born in American Samoa to a Catholic father and a Hindu mother, and moved to Hawaii as a child. She follows the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism, which venerates the deity Lord Vishnu and his primary incarnations.

Gabbard takes over the seat held by Rep. Mazie K. Hirono, who won a Senate race on Nov. 6 and will become the first Buddhist to sit in the upper chamber. There were already two other Buddhists in the House of Representatives, both of whom won re-election: Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a fellow Hawaii Democrat.

James McGovern 07-12-2012
U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass. Courtesy McGovern office.

U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass. Courtesy McGovern office.

Editor's Note: On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee voted to slash $16.5 billion in nutrition assistance funding in the farm bill. Rep. James McGovern led efforts to stop the drastic cuts to anti-hunger programs. He offers his thoughts to Sojourners on the committee decision.

I am disappointed that a majority of the House Agriculture Committee voted against my amendment to eliminate the $16.5 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, included in the Farm Bill. These cuts are detrimental, cruel, and immoral. They literally take food away from hungry people; people who are poor; people who struggle to feed their families. SNAP is the most effective and efficient federal program. Let me repeat that – the most effective and efficient program. In fact, the error rate was 3.81 % in 2010, the lowest in the history of the program. And that rate continues to decrease.

It is false to say that these cuts won’t affect benefits or that they are merely closing loopholes. They will result in less food for hungry, low-income Americans – period.

Nancy Haught 05-08-2012
U.S. Capitol, Gary Blakeley /

U.S. Capitol, Gary Blakeley /

After almost a year as chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, which The New York Times called "one of the most reviled congregations in the country," the Rev. Patrick Conroy was back in Portland, Ore., for a few days to meet with his Jesuit counterparts.

Conroy, 61, was a theology teacher at Jesuit High School here when the opportunity to be House chaplain arose. He was sworn in May 25 as the chamber's 60th chaplain. In a recent interview, he talked about the challenges of his job and issued a challenge of his own to American citizens. His answers have been edited for length and clarity.

the Web Editors 01-13-2012

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James Colten 11-18-2011
Non-Violence Gun Sculpture in Sweden. Image by Francois Polito via Wiki Commons.

Non-Violence Gun Sculpture in Sweden. Image by Francois Polito via Wiki Commons. (double licence GFDL et Creative Commons CC-BY-

The House of Representatives just passed a law that would allow gun-owners to carry their guns through other states based on the Constitutional right to bear arms (as opposed to the right to bear legs — once global warming kicks it up a notch expect to see this one on the floor soon).

As a native Illinoisan, I’m not sure how I should feel about this bill. Illinois is one of two states (not including Washington D.C.) that don’t have concealed carry provisions. This provision would allow Missourians and Michiganders and people from Indiana to waltz right through our state with their guns as they please. I see the merit and legality to the 2nd Amendment, yet at the same time, I recognize we have a gun violence problem in America. 

Here’s how dialogue around gun control goes these days:

For: Guns kill people.

Against: Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

For: People kill people using guns

Against: And the Second Amendment?

For: Shoot… No, wait!