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Press Release: NETWORK Responds to Budget Agreement

FOR RELEASE: December 12, 2013                                                                           

CONTACT: Stephanie Niedringhaus, 202-347-9797 x224,  sniedringhaus@networklobby.org

Washington DC: NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, today issued the following statement:

NETWORK’s reaction to the current congressional budget deal can best be described as decidedly mixed. We applaud the fact that House and Senate negotiators were able craft a bipartisan agreement, which should avert another devastating government shutdown both now and in 2015 budget negotiations. Sen. Patty Murray (D. Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R. Wis.) are to be commended for their work to make this happen.

We also hope that they are correct in stating this will halt the crisis-driven budget decision process that has recently created economic chaos in Washington and across the country.

They have agreed to address some of the unjust cuts imposed by the sequester, which is helpful. The spending cap this year would rise to $1.012 trillion, up from the sequester level of $967.5 billion, with $491.8 billion for domestic spending and $520.5 billion for the Pentagon. Although we are relieved that domestic needs programs are not being cut at levels previously proposed by Republican legislators, we continue to believe that military spending should be cut further, which would allow more funding for human needs programs since they continue to be underfunded.

We are relieved that the agreement protects some of our most vulnerable populations, including children, seniors and persons with disabilities, from harsh cuts in certain entitlement programs.

Higher fees for airline passengers and other proposals are meant to offset some of the costs, but we deplore the lack of any real efforts to increase revenues through other means, especially a fairer tax code that closes unjust loopholes and makes people at the extreme upper end of the economic ladder pay their fair share.

We are also deeply unhappy that the agreement did not include extension of long-term unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people. These benefits are set to expire at the end of this month. We call on Congress to immediately pass an extension of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation for American workers still suffering the effects of the economic recession. Our workers need it and so does our economy. 

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