By Katie Stanton
Social Media & Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA
What does the YWCA want the most this holiday season? We’re got five things we’re hoping for — policy decisions that will help empower women, reform that will truly support racial equality, and your continued support for our local associations who are working hard in communities all over the country.
1. Although there have been considerable setbacks, passing comprehensive immigration reform that protects women and keeps families together is still possible, and there are still many activists who are continuing to beat the drum for a vote. We’d like to make sure that the momentum isn’t lost by next year, and that there’s a real chance for reform in 2014.
Immigration reform: If not now, when?, by Catherine Brzycki, UPI
“For a year that started with strong, if not unprecedented, support for reform, the flagging efforts were met with silence and apathy. Striking a new budget deal will be the most critical issue this month, followed by work on a farm bill and wrapping up legislation authorizing military pay. This leaves no time for comprehensive immigration reform.”
2. The Military Justice Improvement Act is a much-needed reform for the military justice system — and its most important provision was not included in the National Defense Authorization Act that passed the House this week. While other provisions to mitigate sexual assault in the military were included, it is our hope that, if Senator Gillibrand’s proposed legislation gets another vote in 2014, it will be passed.
Military Sexual Assault Bill Passes The House With Overwhelming Support, by Donna Cassata, The Huffington Post
“Outraged by several high-profile cases, Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate united behind efforts to stop sexual assault. Reps. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, and Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., seized the lead in the House, while the record number of women on the Senate Armed Services Committee — seven of the panel’s 26 senators — shepherded changes in the Senate.”
3. A final budget deal, passed in the House last night and on its way to pass in the Senate, weakens the sequester (a series of automatic budget cuts, the threat of which were meant to prevent Congress from allowing them to take place) but it does not remove it. There are compromises in the deal from both political parties, and this deal will help end the gridlock that has paralyzed Congress this year. But what we really want is a deal that both allows for compromise and prioritizes the safety, security and empowerment of those who need it most.
House, Senate negotiators reach budget deal, by Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post
“House and Senate negotiators unveiled an $85 billion agreement late Tuesday to fund federal agencies through the fall of 2015, averting another government shutdown and ending the cycle of crisis that has paralyzed Washington for much of the past three years.
In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stood side by side in the Capitol with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to announce the deal, which would cancel half of the sharp spending cuts known as the sequester for the current fiscal year.”
4. Since it began, the sequester has directly impacted women and children who are served the YWCA. It has impacted our funding streams, our programs and the other government services that many Americans must rely on for survival. A smarter approach for our budget must be taken, and the sequester ended, so that our most vital programs and services can continue to survive and thrive.
How sequester cuts divided the winners from the losers — including Head Start children, by David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post
“The cuts were supposed to cause equal pain across a broad spectrum of Washington programs. They didn’t. Lawmakers had declined to choose austerity’s winners and losers. But they were chosen anyway by a long national scramble in which programs from Head Start to the Pentagon sought to wriggle out of their share of the cuts.
The winners — those with stored-up cash to spend or powerful friends to help — avoided painful reductions in the sequester’s first year.
The losers did not. And this year, as the cuts trickled down from Washington to a preschool classroom in Kentucky, Carli Hopkins was at the end of a long line of losers.”
5. Finally, it is always our wish that you will reach out to your local YWCA and find out how you can give back to your community this holiday season! Use our Find a YW tool to see what locations are nearest you, and ask how you can get involved. You could adopt a YWCA family, volunteer, donate, and more!
If you have a story that needs to be shared, let us know! Leave a link in the comments or send us a Tweet at @YWCAUSA.