News Archives

Church leaders oppose federal budget bill

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
Jim Winkler
Jan. 31, 2006

By United Methodist News Service

Five mainline denomination leaders are urging members of Congress to oppose the federal budget bill because of its impact on the poor.

James Winkler, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, was among the signers of a Jan. 29 letter sent to members of the House of Representatives.

The letter urges the defeat of the Budget Reconciliation Spending Reduction package for Fiscal Year 2006, scheduled to come before the House on Feb. 1.

Under the budget reduction package, states would be able to cut benefits for most of the 28 million children enrolled in Medicaid and may be forced to shift funds from child care needs to new work requirements under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Other signers were the Most Rev. Frank Griswold, presiding bishop, Episcopal Church; the Rev. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the general assembly, Presbyterian Church, USA; and the Rev. John Thomas, president, United Church of Christ.

“Last year, we called on the President and the Congress to put before the American people a budget that represents the values and priorities of the nation,” the letter stated. “Many of you have expressed your concerns regarding the severity of the cuts considered in the budget reconciliation process.”

While the church leaders expressed gratitude that the Food Stamp Program was spared, “we believe the final legislation is harsher for those most vulnerable and in need than previously understood,” the letter said.

The budget agreement “severely limits states’ ability to tailor state programs to meet the individual needs of the families they serve, likely forces deep cuts in child care assistance for low-income working families who do not receive TANF assistance and allows states to deny contraception to poor women through Medicaid for the first time in the history of the program,” the letter said.

The church leaders also expressed concern over delays in some Supplemental Security Income payments to poor individuals with disabilities and the difficulties low and moderate income students could have receiving or paying back student loans.

By defeating the Conference Report on Senate bill 1932, House members “have an opportunity to redeem the image of Congress in the eyes of the nation by rejecting cuts to those who suffer in sickness, live in hunger, struggle in poverty, live in the cold and seek brighter futures through education,” the letter stated.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

Related Articles
?Stop the killing’ in the Philippines, United Methodists say
Board of Church and Society calls for withdrawal from Iraq
Iraqis do not want war, religious delegation finds
Board of Church and Society
U.S. House of Representatives