A Little Story about a Colossal Failure

June 25, 2010 § 6 Comments

by Wendy Heiges, Senior Director of Advocacy and Public Policy

The Senate recently took up the American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes and Preventing Outsourcing Act (H.R. 4213), otherwise known as the “extenders” bill.  The bill would have extended unemployment benefits for people who’ve been out of work and looking for jobs for six months or more. The bill was also important to states needing additional aid and struggling to maintain critical Medicaid programs in the face of huge budget shortfalls.  It would have extended these and other important provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Recovery Act) – a federal response to the worst economic recession in recent memory.

The bill had been on life-support and last night, the Senate pulled the plug.

The failure of this bill means:

  • Families will become financially insecure and at risk of hunger.
  • Social programs serving the most vulnerable will scale back or shut their doors.
  • State budgets in free-fall will see the trees.

Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press writes “the demise [of the bill] means that unemployment benefits will phase out for more than 200,000 people a week.” And according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Texas will lose out on $858 million in federal Medicaid funding when the Recovery Act provision expires at the end of the year. This is bizarre given the state confronts an estimated $18 billion budget deficit.

The Senate brawled over how to pay for the bill.  One suggestion was to target future Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) benefits as an offset.  SNAP helps millions of low-income people and families get the food they need. SNAP also stimulates the economy.  For every $5 in SNAP benefits spent, $9 is generated in local communities. This critical safety net is needed at all times and especially during a severe economic recession.

The unquestionable importance and impact of SNAP must not be undermined during deliberations of any legislation.

The Capital Area Food Bank is deeply concerned about tens of thousands of food insecure people in our service territory.  Our dedicated and caring Partner Agencies struggle to provide emergency food assistance to people at risk of hunger.  This challenge – already acute – will further intensify as tens of thousands of unemployed people and their families seek our help because Congress and Texas have failed to step up.

And this didn’t have to happen.

How did our leaders in Texas vote for this bill?

No Senator John Cornyn [R]
No Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison  [R]


§ 6 Responses to A Little Story about a Colossal Failure

  • John says:

    Use this poweful list below to email, call, fax, mail, Twitter, Facebook all these people daily. Then do the same thing for your state senators, governor, local/state/national media, mayor, congressman & city council members.

    Post this EXACT blog comment on EVERY blog, forum, website, & social media platform you see.

    Things we MUST do RIGHT now!
    1. Post the petition on your FaceBook
    2. Post the petition on your Twitter
    3. Post the petition on your Blog
    4. Post the petition on your Myspace
    5. Post the petition on your Website
    6. Post comments or make a video on YouTube
    The President/Whitehouse FAX: (202) 456-2461
    The Vice President FAX: (202) 456-2461
    Nancy Pelosi Fax: (202) 225-8259
    Senator Harry Reid Fax: (202) 224-7327
    Senator Richard Durbin Fax: (202) 228-0400
    Senator Max Baucus Fax: (202)224-9412
    Mitch McConnell (Sen. Minority Leader) Fax: (202) 224-2499
    Jon Kyl (Rep Whip) Fax: (202) 224-2207

    Then go sign up on as many petitions as you can.

    • Wendy Heiges says:

      Hi, John-

      I can tell from your list that you may be interested in advocating for those at risk of hunger. Do you live in Central Texas? Let me know if you’d like to be in touch. Thanks for these valuable action items. Wendy

  • K Cups says:

    Just wanted to commend you on this piece before I click on the other links 🙂

  • Wendy Heiges says:

    Hi there! Thanks for your feedback and let me know if you’d like further info about other policy issues related to food insecurity. Best,

  • Julie says:

    I have come from California to Austin. I have a Master’s Degree. I have a job that starts in August in Education. I am one of the people this unemployment cut is affecting. If nothing changes, I will not have money for food or rent until Aug. 30th. I am truly saddened that undocumented workers seem to receive more help than the working US born americans. I hope I can figure something out…after losing my home in CA, abandoning all my credit, and next on the list is my car….one payment behind. When will we see relief?

    • Wendy Heiges says:

      Julie, I wish I could call you right now. We maybe be able to help you. Please contact me if you revisit this post. 512-684-2535. My direct line. I hope to hear from you.


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