Federations Hold Joint Advocacy Mission in Washington with AJFCA February 8, 2013
Government affairs leaders from Federations across the country gathered in Washington this week to learn strategies to advocate for programs serving the vulnerable in the face of possible funding cuts due to the fiscal crisis. The advocates were in the nation’s capital for the Government Affairs Institute, sponsored by The Jewish Federations of North America and The Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies.
This year’s conference, from Feb. 5-7, included briefings by representatives of the media, academia, Congress and the administration, including officials from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services. Speakers discussed the impact of cuts already made to critical programs for children and the elderly, and warned of the risks posed by the prospect of sequestration, a trigger for across-the-board cuts.
Participants at the Institute had lunch on Capitol Hill with some members of Congress and held 75 different meetings at individual Congressional offices, where they advocated for:
protecting the most vulnerable from the devastating effect of sequestration
reauthorization of the Older Americans Act and the inclusion of Holocaust survivors as a priority population
the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act, which would give community mental health centers better access to electronic health records
tax incentives for charitable giving; and
the Community First Choice option, which allows Medicaid recipients to receive more comprehensive services at home or in their communities, improving their health and quality of life.
“The Government Affairs Institute afforded me, as a lay leader, the opportunity to learn from experts and engage with lawmakers and White House officials about the issues directly impacting our communities,” said Anne Oppenheimer, JFNA Human Services and Public Policy Ambassador.
Notable speakers included Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers; Jonathan Greenblatt, special assistant to the President and director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation at the Domestic Policy Council; Racquel Russell, deputy assistant to the President for Urban Affairs and Economic Mobility; and Keith Fontenot, associate director for Health at the Office of Management and Budget.
“As lawmakers work to find solutions to our nation’s fiscal issues, Jewish communal organizations must play a leading role in conveying the tangible impact sequestration would have on the most vulnerable,” said William Daroff, vice president for public policy of JFNA.
Lee Sherman, president and CEO of the AJFCA, said, “Now more than ever, Jewish family and children’s service agencies and their partner Federations must build and strengthen relationships with elected officials to ensure they understand the perspectives we have as direct service providers."