Resources & Media

Over 5,000 Faith Leaders Join Bend the Arc to Support the Progressive Caucus Budget

March Newsletter
March 31, 2015
Bend the Arc

Each year, Congress votes on a series of Budget proposals which offer contrasting visions of what our country’s spending priorities should be in the coming year.  In addition to Republican and Democratic budgets, the Progressive Caucus offers its own budget on the House floor. 

This year, Bend the Arc partnered with our friends at Auburn Seminary and Sister Simone Campbell from NETWORK: a Catholic Social Justice Lobby (from “Nuns on the Bus” fame) to raise a strong multi-faith voice in support of the Progressive Caucus Budget. We joined together to collect signatures from clergy and faith-leaders from a wide range of traditions and regions to say that our “faiths are steeped in the understanding that we have a communal responsibility to care for the most vulnerable in society. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, ensuring that all workers receive a fair wage are not simply policy positions: they are sacred obligations.”

Sister Simone said, “Our basic principle is that we as a nation need reasonable revenue for responsible programs. All programs that our government funds need to be accountable and effective. This is true for the safety-net programs that protect our most vulnerable, as well as all of the business subsidies like those to oil companies, corporate agriculture, the defense industry, and more. The Federal budget should reflect our values and shared priorities, and we believe that this proposal achieves that goal.”

We were amazed by the outpouring of support. Over 5,000 faith leaders joined us, and Rep. Keith Ellison (MN), a co-chair of the Progressive Caucus and co-sponsor of the budget was so impressed that he submitted our letter into the Congressional Record. Mike Darner, Executive Director of Congressional Progressive Caucus said, “Having nearly 5,000 faith leaders come out in support of the People’s Budget was a testament to the fact that this is a moral document. Without a doubt it was noted and made a big impact in the votes of Members of Congress.”

In the end, the Budget did not pass in the Republican-controlled house, but it did receive 96 votes, which was the first time that the Progressive Caucus Budget received support from a majority of the Democratic Caucus.  Individual provisions from previous budgets have already been incorporated into the official Democratic Budget, and Bend the Arc will continue to push more members to support those principles in the future.

The contrast between this budget and the Republican budget that did pass could not be starker:  that budget cut more than $3 trillion over ten years from programs that serve people of limited means, without raising any revenue on those who can afford it. In fact, two-thirds of the spending cuts in the Republican Budget comes from programs for people with low or moderate incomes. The increasing support for the Progressive Caucus Budget demonstrates progressive strength as we enter a year of prolonged battle between Congress and the President on the country’s spending priorities.