ongoing action items
1. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) Dear Colleague Letter to Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK)
The letter asks for a very modest increase in Community Services Block Grant funding from $715 million to $750 million. The target co-signers are only Republicans - particularly those who need to bring back good news to their districts before November. Click here to view the letter. We believe that this letter will be particularly influential for Tom Cole, who chairs the House Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee.
We sent an email yesterday with our current target list for co-signers. In case you missed it, click here to see our list of potential co-signers. David will be meeting with each of these offices individually, but if you see your representative on the list, please contact her district office and request that the member sign Elise Stefanik's CSBG letter to Tom Cole. If you don't see your Republican member on this list, but believe he or she might want to sign on, call our office and let us know!
2. Community Action Opioid Response Act
As you are aware, the Community Action Opioid Response Act has been introduced in the House (McCollum-Smucker, H.R. 5124) and the Senate (Collins-Klobuchar, S. 2636). As a reminder, the legislation is a competitive grant, and would be distributed only to Community Action Agencies to combat the opioid epidemic in communities throughout the United States.
Ultimately, after an intensive Hill fight, the Senate measure was not included in the HELP Committee's greater opioid package. We have not given up on this effort, however. In recent days, David has met with some of our champions in the House, and a legislative strategy for the opioid legislation has emerged. Congressman Smucker will introduce an amendment on the House floor in June. Stay tuned for more information on this, as it will most certainly include an "all hands on deck" effort from our network when the time comes to secure other votes.
3. FY 2019 Appropriations
We are working the Hill on FY 2019 appropriations as well. The appropriations process has really picked up steam over the last few weeks. As we reported last week, the House Weatherization number for FY 2019 is $251 million - the same as FY 2018. We are satisfied with this development. We will keep you updated on the Senate number when those mark-ups occur this week.
Our priority this appropriations season, as evidenced by the Stefanik letter to Cole, is CSBG funding. Frankly, $715 million is not enough for our agencies to perform the vital roles their communities expect them to serve. Thus, we are aggressively pursuing an increase to at least $750 million. The Stefanik letter is one prong of our appropriations strategy, but David will also be meeting with committee members and staff to discuss the need for increased funding.
Recently, we requested that you secure letters from your mayors, which explicitly support CSBG, for HHS Secretary Azar. Several have reached out for guidance in writing these letters. Since we need them to be noticeably different for each unique community they represent, there is not a specific template. However, here are a few suggestions when crafting your letter(s):
First Paragraph: Statement on agency being invaluable to the community. Mention that the agency identifies as part of Community Action network and relies on CSBG funding. Make sure to say how many people agency serves and give a quick run-down of the different types of services you offer. Remember: skills training and 'hand-ups' sell better than handouts.
Second Paragraph: Identify a specific program that you believe is invaluable and how it uniquely helps people in your community. How would the community be impacted without this program? Be sure to explain how this program relies on CSBG funds.
Third Paragraph: Thank them for their time and ask for continued support. If possible make the claim that without your local Community Action Agency, the community could not address the issues it does -- be specific.
Also, when you are meeting with your members, particularly those on the Appropriations Committee, be sure to mention our appropriations talking points. Click here to visit our appropriations webpage and gain access to our one-page FY 2019 appropriations cheat-sheet, dear colleague letters and more. These will help you frame your conversation.
4. CSBG Reauthorization
In March, Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) introduced H.R. 5365 with Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN). This resolution reauthorizes and modernizes the Community Services Block Grant Act. In today's political environment, it is particularly important that we protect this extremely vital community program via reauthorization.
In the coming months, David will meet with countless members on our reauthorization effort. Be sure to keep yourself updated on the cosponsors so you'll know if your member is supporting the measure or not. If your member supports reauthorization, please be sure to contact her office and show your appreciation. If not, when meeting with your member, be sure you're prepared to discuss the topic! You can click here to access our webpage on CSBG reauthorization, which includes helpful one-pagers and informational material.
priority action items