Over the past five years, as poverty and unemployment rates have risen and remain high in our nation, enrollment in federal nutrition assistance programs like SNAP (food stamps) and WIC has increased dramatically. 20 million more people are currently enrolled in SNAP than before the Great Recession. At the same time, over the past couple years we have seen serious and sustained threats to cut funding from these vital programs, including SNAP, WIC, and tax credits for the working poor here in the U.S. and international food aid and development assistance abroad. The need is great, yet Congress is considering cutting this funding?! We say NO to balancing the budget on the backs of those who are already vulnerable in our communities, in our country and around the world!
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has long been an advocate for the needs of poor and hungry people and continues to be a leading voice in the Senate calling for their protection. Durbin is a member of the "Gang of Eight" bipartisan senators working to craft a framework that could pass the U.S. House and Senate and receive the President's signature--no easy feat, given the highly partisan climate in Congress and the conflicting views for how to best move our country forward. But most members of Congress do not want our nation to go over the "fiscal cliff" of simultaneous funding cuts and tax increases, which will happen soon if Congress does nothing. Yet despite this anxiety, the Gang of Eight is currently the only working group in Congress that could potentially reach a deal on a framework that can become law.
Given the high stakes, members of the Gang of Eight, including Senator Durbin, will be under pressure to come to an agreement, any agreement. Perhaps especially so for Durbin, since he's in a Senate leadership position. And everything is on the table for this group, including funding for programs like SNAP. Given what we know of Senator Durbin, he wants to protect SNAP, but in these high-stakes and high-pressure negotiations, he needs to have the political backing to continue doing so.
Join us in thanking Senator Durbin for championing federal assistance for poor and hungry people in our communities. Join us in calling on the senator to keep up the fight, to not accept compromises that come at the expense of those who can least afford to make further sacrifices. And join us in saying, "We are behind you and we support you" as you continue protecting our most vulnerable brothers and sisters here in the U.S. and around the world.