With the pandemic going on and politicians heading into election season you might think activity would be slowing down a little bit. Not so. The U.S. Senate is set to come back into session next Monday and there are ongoing discussions about the next COVID-19 relief package.
As followers of Christ, we are called to create a society where the needs of the poor and vulnerable are considered first.
The U.S. bishops have three “action alerts” available to help you contact your members of Congress on specific areas of pandemic relief. Please send these messages – it just takes a few minutes.
The first alert asks Senators to prioritize the poor and vulnerable, including an increase in SNAP benefits: https://votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/75712/Respond
This alert asks for help for Catholic schools - public schools are asking for $300 billion dollars, and it is important to make sure that hard-hit Catholic school families also receive emergency relief: https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/75795/Respond
Another alert points out the need to assist DACA recipients: https://justiceforimmigrants.org/category/action-alerts/.
This morning the administration carried out the first federal execution since 2003. The Supreme Court rejected inmate claims that new execution protocols violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. You can click here for the Iowa bishops’ letter asking for mercy for the inmates.
Following the publication of a national news story on Catholic churches receiving loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response:
“The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental supplier of social services in the United States. Each year, our parishes, schools and ministries serve millions of people in need, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion. The novel coronavirus only intensified the needs of the people we serve and the demand for our ministries. The loans we applied for enabled our essential ministries to continue to function in a time of national emergency.”
SUPREME COURT WRAPS UP ITS TERM
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued the final opinions from the current term. There were two of particular interest:
The Little Sisters of the Poor went to the Court again to defend their community against attempts to force them to cooperate with immoral activities. By a vote of 7-2, the Court ruled on July 8 in favor of the Little Sisters.
Also on July 8, the Court issued its decision in the consolidated cases of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel. These cases involved the right of Catholic schools, free of government interference, to choose teachers who will teach and model the Catholic faith. By a vote of 7-2, the Court ruled in favor of the schools.
NEW RULE ON PAYDAY LOANS
On July 7, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its final rule on Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans. The rule removed a requirement that lenders ensure a potential borrower will be able to repay their loan before issuing the loan. The final rule strips away even the basic requirement that loans be made only when people can afford them, setting up workers and families to fail.
GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES MENTAL HEALTH FUNDING
Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced that $50 million in COVID-19 relief funds will be allocated to mental health services:
$10 million for Medicaid providers of non-hospital based inpatient and outpatient services
$10 million for Medicaid substance use disorder providers
$30 million to the government mental health and disability services regions - bringing the overall system funding to nearly $130 million.
We encourage the governor to issue an executive order restoring felon voting rights. It would still be better to get a constitutional amendment, but an executive order would be a good interim solution. You can contact the governor and ask for an executive order here.