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National Council of Churches General Secretary
expresses disappointment at narrow budget vote

NEW YORK, November 18, 2005 -- The General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA has expressed deep disappointment in this morning's narrow vote in the U.S. House of Representatives approving a federal budget that cuts programs for the poor.

The Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar also offered encouragement to the thousands of persons around the country and in Washington who urged Congress not to make the cuts.

The vote "suggests that a slim majority of our elected officials cannot comprehend what it means to be poor and cannot grasp the painful impact the budget cuts will have on those who live on the edge and below the poverty line," Edgar said.

The bill passed by a vote of 217 to 215.

"In the past several weeks, many persons of faith and good will worked tirelessly to convince members of Congress that budget cuts that hurt the poor are unconscionable and, in the final analysis, sinful,"  Edgar said. "Today we are exhausted and disappointed. But we do not regret fighting the good fight and we know justice will eventually prevail."

The full text of Edgar's statement follows:

The very narrow passage of the federal budget-cutting bill two votes is profoundly disappointing for those of us who continue to advocate for those in need. It suggests that a slim majority of our elected officials cannot comprehend what it means to be poor and cannot grasp the painful impact the budget cuts will have on those who live on the edge and below the poverty line.  

Not long ago, President Bush went to New Orleans and promised support for poor people. That makes cutting billions for programs that help the poor feel like a slap in the face. The abject poverty revealed by the hurricanes in the south exists in every urban area of the United States. People of faith in the Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity, Islam know that the Creator God has expressed an eternal bias in favor of the poor. This cannot be blithely ignored.  

In the past several weeks, many persons of faith and good will worked tirelessly to convince members of Congress that budget cuts that hurt the poor are unconscionable and, in the final analysis, sinful. Today we are exhausted and disappointed. But we do not regret fighting the good fight and we know justice will eventually prevail. We religious leaders cannot be the conscience of the Congress but we have faith that our elected officials can still be taught whose side God is on.
 

Contact: NCC News, Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2252, pjenks@ncccusa.org


 

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