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Washington Report – June 2024

Jun 4, 2024 | Blog, Washington Report

Written by: Madison Mayhew, IPL Federal Policy Manager

As summer tours kickoff around the Capitol city, Washington D.C.’s autonomy is being threatened again in Congress. 

The DC legislative branch was established by Congress in the “District of Columbia Home Rule Act of 1973.” This legislation, often referred to as “Home Rule” provided an elected mayor and 13 member council, allowing Washingtonians to have agency in governing their own affairs. 

However, there are provisions in the legislation that gives Congress the power to overturn local laws and exercise greater oversight than any state in the US. Once a piece of legislation is passed by the DC Council, the bill must sit in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate for 30 days. During this period of waiting, either chamber can submit legislation to oppose the DC Council bill. Although this is very uncommon, DC autonomy is at more risk now than ever as Congress debates two bills passed by the DC Council last legislative session. 

The House recently passed the DC CRIMES Act, which would be the biggest rollback of D.C. self-government in a generation.  This bill says the D.C. Council may not “enact any act, resolution, or rule to change any criminal liability sentence in effect on the date of the enactment of the DC CRIMES Act of 2024.”  It takes away D.C.’s authority to increase or decrease statutory criminal penalties.  If D.C. wanted to increase penalties for violent crime, it could not do so.  This bill could even be construed to prevent D.C. from establishing any new crimes at all. 

In this fight for Washingtonians to maintain agency in self governance, D.C. lacks representation in Congress to fight for residents, creating a situation where Washingtonians don’t have complete control over their local government nor voting representation in Congress. 

Washington D.C. is a historically and predominantly Black city, more than half of the 700,000 residents are Black or Latinx, and the majority do not work for the federal government. Lack of statehood and representation is a racial justice and equity issue. As people of faith who care about the dignity and worth of all people, we must protect the voices of all of our neighbors in our democracy. 

The Latest on Climate Policy

Budget and Appropriations 

Near the end of May, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) announced his proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 defense and nondefense funding levels, as well as amounts he’d allocate to each of the 12 annual spending bills. 

House Republicans’ proposal cuts funding under almost every appropriations bill relative to FY2024. In real dollars, Defense would get the biggest boost while Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education would see the biggest cut. The Interior-Environment bill would see a $1.9 billion cut. Additionally, the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS) budget would see a 11-12% cut, which would likely come from the international climate finance accounts. 

House Republicans’ proposed totals for defense and nondefense discretionary spending similarly prioritize military spending above human needs. Relative to the FY2024 funding deal enacted barely two months ago, defense funding would increase by $9 billion, while nondefense funding would suffer a $67 billion cut. 

During our Day on the Hill, IPL affiliates advocated for strong International Climate Funding in the SFOPS budget bill. We continue to ask Congress to consider the following amounts: 

  • SFOPS Bilateral Accounts: 
    • Adaptation: $1.1 billion 
    • Renewable Energy: $634 million 
    • Sustainable Landscapes: $451 million 
  • Green Climate Fund: $1 Billion 

Additionally, we urge Congress to make strong and ambitious contributions to the Loss and Damage Fund. 

The FY2024 funding bill that ultimately became law largely rejected the draconian cuts Republicans similarly proposed last year. At the end of the day, Congress must approve a FY2025 spending package that the Democratically-controlled Senate and White House agree to, too—not just the House GOP. Senate appropriators have yet to announce their proposed topline numbers or markup schedule, so several steps in this process still lie ahead.

The Farm Bill 

The House Committee on Agriculture passed their version of the Farm Bill – “The Farm, Food, and National Security Act” late last week. Many thanks to those of you who reached out to members on the committee ahead of the vote. We were opposed to the proposal for many reasons, but especially for the significant cuts to SNAP ($30 Billion) and the removal of the “climate guardrails” of the designated IRA funds for climate smart agriculture. Here is a helpful breakdown from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Check out Iowa IPL’s blessing for a faithful and just Farm Bill here. 

Contact your Member of Congress using the action tool below!

Congressional Review Act (CRA) Resolutions

In the past 6 months, we’ve seen a wave of important EPA, DOE, and other agency finalized rules establishing standards to safeguard communities from harmful pollution from the power and transportation sectors and help families save on energy costs while increasing energy efficiency of their home appliances. 

The 2024 CRA resolutions to override these agency standards aim to prevent the administration from achieving our climate goals and to limit its ability to protect people’s health, safety, and futures from harmful pollution. We expect the CRA attacks to continue throughout this year and will need your help urging your members of Congress to oppose them.

The CRA process poses a particular threat to the BLM’s onshore oil and gas leasing rule, which brings common-sense reform to raise decades-old rental and royalty rates, hold companies accountable to clean up their messes on public lands, and ensure that taxpayers get fair returns.

On May 14, Senator Daines introduced S.J. Res. 78, a CRA resolution to nullify the BLM’s onshore oil and gas leasing rule. This rule has been broadly supported by conservation, climate, environmental justice, and good government groups.

The rule was communicated to the Senate on April 30, which is when both the 20 calendar day clock began AND when the 60 legislative day clock began – so between now and when the 60 legislative session day period concludes (sometime in the fall, we estimate), S.J. Res. 78 can be brought up in the Senate and would need only a simple majority to pass.

Additionally, Rep. Boebert introduced H.J.Res. 154 on May 23, which is the House version of this legislation.

Checkout our background resource on CRAs here. 

Add your organization to this organizational sign on letter opposing carbon and soot CRAs. And, if you’re a faith leader, add your name to this faith leader sign on letter for carbon and soot CRAs .

Action Opportunities 

Tell Congress to Prioritize a Faithful Farm Bill

People of faith believe in the moral call to uplift human dignity, love our neighbors, and protect our Sacred Earth. A Farm Bill for both people and the environment could ensure a future where all people have reliable access to healthy food, while prioritizing sustainable farming practices, and dignified treatment for those who work the land.

Contact your Member of Congress to prioritize a faithful Farm Bill that protects people and planet.

Are you ready to vote?

Through the power of our vote, people of faith and conscience can communicate our shared values of caring for our common home and living out our love and respect for one another. We can join together to protect our Sacred Earth and create a better world for current and future generations.

Visit IPL’s Faith Votes Campaign site now to check your voter registration status.Watch IPL President Rev. Susan Hendershot announce the campaign and share why voting is important to her:

​​​​​IPL has partnered with BallotReady to provide everything on your ballot – in one place!  You can find out how to vote, research every candidate and measure on your ballot, check your registration, and get to know your elected officials at every level of government.

Share this tool with your family and friends, and stay tuned for resources to help your faith community use BallotReady to get out the vote.

Let’s join together to vote our values and make a difference.

Sign the Defend Our Climate petition

Our climate progress is under attack in Congress. The climate crisis is accelerating, taking an enormous toll on human life, our communities, and our world.  

Sign the petition and share it with your community to call on Congress to defend our climate progress for current and future generations and our Sacred Earth.

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