ICC Newsletter – Dec. 10, 2017

As often happens at the end of the year, Congress is addressing some important issues related to human life and dignity.

Many families affected by migration here in the United States need our support and action today. For example, since 2012, nearly 800,000 undocumented young people have passed background checks, paid a fee, and received permission to live and work in America through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Originally they were brought to the U.S. as minors through no fault of their own. The DACA program is now being terminated by the administration.

As the Catholic bishops of Iowa said in their recent letter to Congress, “These young people entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. The dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be protected.”

The bishops believe it is both our moral duty and in our nation’s best interest to protect them and help them reach their God-given potential. One way we can do that is to enact the Dream Act. These youths should not be forced to live in constant fear that they will be deported and separated from their families.

To help highlight the immigration issue, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, the chair of the Iowa Catholic Conference board of directors, visited a detention center on Dec. 7. You can see coverage of the event on our Facebook page.

The bishops also support maintaining our leadership of the international humanitarian system by funding life-saving U.S. humanitarian assistance. More than 65 million people are forcibly displaced around the world, and more than 22 million are refugees. These are historically high levels.

You can help with both of these issues by sending a message to your members of Congress at https://www.votervoice.net/ICC/campaigns/55662/respond.

Another priority of the U.S. Catholic bishops is the Conscience Protection Act. This bill will strengthen federal law that is already supposed to ensure that those who provide health care and health coverage can do so without being forced by government to help destroy unborn children. There is a chance that this legislation can be included in the year-end budget deal. Go to https://www.humanlifeaction.org/action-alert/urge-congress-enact-conscience-protection-act-2017 to send a message today.

A priority of the current administration and leaders of Congress is to pass a tax reform package. As Congress prepares to reconcile the House of Representatives and Senate tax reform bills, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, insisted that “Congress should advance a final tax reform bill only if it meets the key moral concerns . . .”

“According to Congress’ own nonpartisan analysis, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bills recently passed by the House and the Senate raise taxes on the poor and cut taxes on the rich, violating basic principles of justice,” wrote Bishop Dewane. “Congress has proposed a web of wide-ranging and complex changes to the tax code, yet is approaching the process at a pace that makes it difficult even for experts in the impacted areas to analyze effects.”

Bishop Dewane expressed support for proposals contained in both the House and Senate bills, such as doubling the Standard Deduction, expansion of 529 savings plans, increases for deductions for educator expenses, and the idea of expanding the child tax credit, though he urged a robust expansion that includes the refundable portions of the credit.

However, the bishop also highlighted serious problems that remain in one or both of the proposed bills:  elimination of personal exemptions, repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate apart from broader health care reform, and failure to include changes that will protect against a steep drop in charitable giving, among others.

Click here for a copy of Bishop Dewane’s letter.

You can call Congress to let them know what you think about tax reform at (202) 224-3121. An action alert from the U.S. bishops on private school-specific concerns is at https://votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/55533/Respond.

Thanks for taking time out during Advent to stand up for those who are vulnerable.

Here in Iowa, the state legislature comes back into session on Jan. 8. This fall we have been working with legislators and other groups on several priorities identified by the bishops, including:

  • Supporting an Education Savings Account program and enhancements to the Educational Opportunities Act/School Tuition Organization tax credit
  • Supporting final passage of Senate File 359, outlawing trafficking in fetal body parts
  • Supporting an increase in the state’s minimum wage
  • Opposing Senate File 481 related to the treatment of immigrants
  • Opposing the reinstatement of the death penalty

You will be hearing more about these issues – and others that pop up – as the session progresses next year.

AND FINALLY,

The Iowa Secretary of State is mailing out Voter ID cards to those without a valid ID card from the DOT. Click here for their news release and additional information. This is important information for many citizens who don’t want to lose their ability to vote.

ICC Newsletter – Nov. 22, 2017

We at the Iowa Catholic Conference are very grateful for your participation in our legislative network and willingness to take action on important concerns. We pray you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

USCCB PRESIDENT CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF THE VULNERABLE

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offers a Thanksgiving Day message to the nation with special gratitude for the gift of immigrants and refugees. In part, he said:

“As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States. My brother bishops and I, gathered last week in Baltimore, were attentive in a special way to those who are often excluded from this great abundance — the poor, the sick, the addicted, the unborn, the unemployed, and especially migrants and refugees.

“My brothers expressed a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm — and urgency to act — in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago: the deportation of Dreamers, young hard-working people who should be the lowest priority for deportation; the anxiety and uncertainty of those with Temporary Protected Status from countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras, which are still recovering from natural disasters and remain ill-equipped to humanely receive and integrate them; and an unprecedented reduction in the number of people we will welcome this year into our country who seek refuge from the ravages of war and religious persecution in their countries of origin.

“One common feature of all these developments is their tendency to tear apart the family, the fundamental building block of our, or any, society. These threats to so many vulnerable immigrant and refugee families must end now. My brothers have urged me to speak out on their behalf to urge the immediate passage — and signature — of legislation that would alleviate these immediate threats to these families…”

Click here to see the entire statement.

ACTION ALERTS

As Cardinal DiNardo mentioned, the federal government is addressing many issues that directly relate to human life and dignity. Here are several action alerts you can click on for more information and to send a message to your Senator and Representative. We have a responsibility to stand up for those who are thought to be of little account.

Speak Out on Behalf of Young People in Our Communities Who Face an Uncertain Future

Urge Continued Protection for Haitians While Their County Continues to Recover

Help Persecuted Christians/Religious Minorities in Middle East

Protect Funding for Poverty-Reducing International Assistance

Urge Congress to Enact the Conscience Protection Act of 2017!

Support US Funding and Participation in the Global Effort to Address Climate Change

GREATLY DISAPPOINTED BY HOUSE PASSAGE OF TAX BILL

Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed “great disappointment” over the House of Representatives’ passage of the deeply flawed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, calling on the Senate to work toward legislation that fixes the problems with H.R.1.

“It is greatly disappointing that the U.S. House of Representatives ignored impacts to the poor and families — including those who welcome life through adoption or have more than three children — and passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act without needed changes … The November 9 letter of the USCCB detailed the many deficiencies in the House bill, including the elimination of the personal exemption, which will hurt larger families, and the repeal of the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction, which will harm those with serious and chronic illness. While we are grateful that the House restored the adoption tax credit, it still repeals an important exclusion for families assisted by their employer to adopt children in need, and eliminates incentives for charitable giving …

“The Senate must act decisively to avoid the deficiencies in the House legislation, and craft a final bill that affirms life, cares for the poor, and ensures national tax policy aimed at the common good.”

Click here for the full statement.

ICC RECEIVES AWARD FOR WORK AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY

Both the Iowa Catholic Conference and its former executive director, Tim McCarthy, were among the recipients of Governor Harold E. Hughes Awards from Iowans Against the Death Penalty on Nov. 10. The awards were given in recognition of the efforts of the Catholic Church to oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty. Iowans Against the Death Penalty is marking its 55th anniversary.

ICC staff accepted the award for McCarthy, who for health reasons was unable to attend. His wife Sandy and several of his children and their spouses were present for the recognition ceremony. McCarthy was director of the ICC from 1969-1999.

It is expected that legislation to bring back the death penalty in Iowa will be discussed during the next session, which starts in January.