Government Affairs and Advocacy

March 21 Federal Update: Federal Budget is Signed, Senate Holds Hearing on Universal Charitable Deduction

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March 21, 2022

Last week, Congress voted to pass the fiscal year 2022 omnibus budget bill after months of delays. This bipartisan bill represents significant investments in many priority areas for the Social Current network, including advancing trauma-informed care, investing in early childhood education, developing whole-child approaches through partnerships with K-12 education, increasing funds for rental assistance and public housing to address the housing crisis, bolstering maternal health equity through new interventions, supporting the behavioral health workforce crisis with new investments, and more. The package also includes supplemental funding of over $13 billion for Ukraine relief.

In addition, this legislative package included the passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. This legislation takes steps to strengthen services, invest in prevention efforts, and expand access to survivors in rural areas and those requiring culturally specific services. Download our full summary for human and social service organizations.

Social Current Comments on Impact of the Economy

Last week, The Chronicle of Philanthropy quoted Social Current President and CEO Jody Levison-Johnson in an article about how the economy continues to impact our sector. You can read the full article, “Economic Data Shocks Charity Officials Just as they were Hoping for a Post-Pandemic Boom,” online.

Universal Charitable Deduction Hearing in the Senate

On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), hosted a hearing on the Universal Charitable Deduction (UCD), featuring speakers from the nonprofits, academic institutions, and think tanks. The first-ever UCD was implemented in the CARES Act in 2020, but it expired at the end of last year. It allowed all taxpayers, whether they took the standard deduction or not, to claim a deduction of up to $300 for charitable contributions. During his remarks, Dan Cardinali, CEO of Independent Sector, emphasized the importance of the charitable sector as the third largest employer in the country. He asked members of the committee to not only extend the UCD, but also raise the cap of the deduction. Susannah Morgan of the Oregon Food Bank shared her on-the-ground experiences running a food bank during the height of the pandemic, and stressed that government programs, such as SNAP and the expanded Child Tax Credit, are also central to helping families in need. Another highlight was Dr. Una Osili from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, who noted that over the last two decades, giving has increasingly become dominated by higher income households and argued that the UCD would make giving more accessible to the rest of the population. The Universal Charitable Deduction remains a major advocacy priority for Social Current.

Public Charge Updates

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new rule that would change how some immigrants are considered for citizenship and green cards. Under the Trump administration, a rule was passed that expanded the ability of the department to consider whether an applicant who wished to change their status would become a “public charge,” meaning likely to depend on the government for assistance. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Section 8 Housing, public housing, and other government benefits programs were added to the list of programs that could be used to assess applicants. Under the proposed rule from DHS, these programs would be explicitly removed from consideration when making a public charge determination. The rule would also forbid relatives’ participation in government programs from being considered when determining likelihood of an applicant becoming a public charge. The rule will now go through a public comment period until April 25.

House Hearing on Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV)

Last week the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Worker and Family Supports led a hearing on improving family outcomes through home visiting program. The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program helps at risk-women and families by connecting them with supports through home visiting. Chairman Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and Ranking Member Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) co-led the hearing. Witnesses included Steven Pascal, director of home visiting at the Children’s Trust in Boston; Myia Smith, Healthy Families America family support specialist at Henry Booth House in Chicago; Erica Beck, Healthy Families American program participant at Henry Booth House in Chicago; Angella Dancer, senior director of home visitation services at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; and Debie Coble, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Michiana in South Bend, Indiana. These witnesses, several of whom shared their lived experience, made a strong case for the importance and effectiveness of MIECHV. Since its enactment in 2009, MIECHV has played a vital role in strengthening local and state efforts. Seven home visiting models met the gold standard of evidence that the law required at that time, and today 12 more research-tested models appear on that list. The committee is looking to reauthorize the program. Some of the goals of Reps. Davis and Walorski include expanding access to home visiting to more families, helping to retain the home visiting workforce, continuing to tailor home visiting to the needs of specific communities, and maintaining a high standard of evidence.

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