ELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/ELCA participating in NY Climate Events in SeptemberMary Minette, Director of Environmental Advocacy & Christine Mangale, Assistant to the Director Lutheran Office for World Community in New Yorkhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/100http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/100<div class="ExternalClassA132F8D3890A474AAB1C175B5CEF334B"><p><strong>​UN Climate </strong><strong>S</strong><strong>ummit</strong></p><p>Lutheran&#160;Office for&#160;World Community (LOWC)&#160;will host a delegation of Lutheran&#160;World&#160;Federation Youth that will come to attend the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's <a href="http&#58;//www.un.org/climatechange/summit/">Climate Summit</a> in September 23, 2014, New York. The delegation will also attend an <a href="http&#58;//interfaithclimate.org/">Interfaith Summit</a> that is being organized by the World Council of Churches and Religions for Peace September 21-22, 2014. The main goal is to mobilize action and ambition on climate change and garner support for climate change agreement by 2015. Lutheran&#160;World&#160;Federation Youth will host a one-hour fasting vigil parallel to the Ban Ki-moon Summit September 23, 2014 at 1-2pm EST. Please join in reflection and prayer wherever you are. Join the <a href="http&#58;//www.fastfortheclimate.org/"><strong>www.fastfortheclimate.org</strong></a>.</p><p>In addition to this, the UN will also hold the <a href="http&#58;//wcip2014.org/">World Conference</a> on Indigenous Peoples on 22-23 September 2014. </p><p>The ELCA Washington Office is also working with the ACT Alliance to help plan a day of side events on climate change issues on September 24th, and LOWC and ELCA Washington staff will attend the Religions for the Earth conference at Union Theological Seminary the weekend before the summit along with other global interfaith leaders.</p><p><strong>People's Climate March in New York</strong></p><p>Plans are underway for what is expected to be the largest march in history on climate change in New York City on the weekend preceding the UN Climate Summit.&#160; The ELCA Washington Office is working with the Metro New York Synod to support Lutherans attending the march. If you have plans to go, please let our office know and we will keep you informed of meeting places on the day of the march and other events.&#160; Fill out our <a href="https&#58;//docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZDZfUCjUixSXloai1UiC-Zh4Bvp6BdWRarm37Vt4qPA/viewform?edit_requested=true">google form​</a> for Lutheran march participants!</p></div>08/29/2014Climate Justice for all God's Creation: How you can speak out now!Mary Minette, Director of Environmental Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/98http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/98<div class="ExternalClass51A8957373594B5A879E79ADCBB6B992"><p></p><p>Last week, Lutheran leaders across the US testified before the EPA to publicly proclaim that Climate Change is a moral dilemma, and to announce their support for the proposed <a href="http&#58;//www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule">Clean Power Plan</a>.&#160; &quot;For us as Lutheran Christians, addressing environmental concerns is part of what it means to live as responsible caretakers of the earth,&quot; said Rev. Robert Moss in Denver, Colorado. &quot;… I believe that support for the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule to regulate and reduce carbon emissions is part of our responsibility.&quot; Excerpts of some of their testimonies can be found on our <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/~/link.aspx?_id=ADB246B3FDA64651B712A0C8E7AD296E&amp;_z=z">Advocacy Blog</a>! </p><p>We write today to ask you to join these fellow Lutherans in taking action! Here are three steps you can take to help address climate change caused in part by pollution from our nation's power plants&#58;</p><ol><li>Submit a comment to the EPA through our <a href="http&#58;//capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=63258596">Action Center</a>, telling them why you support addressing Climate Change and protecting God's Creation by reducing carbon emissions at our nation's power plants. </li><li>Sign the <a href="http&#58;//www.faithclimatepetition.org/">Faith Climate Petition</a> urging US Leaders to become more engaged in negotiations for a new global climate change agreement.</li><li>Join the <a href="http&#58;//peoplesclimate.org/march/">People's Climate March</a> on Sept. 21, 2014 in New York City as world leaders meet to discuss a framework for international action on climate change. Be sure to check out <a href="http&#58;//peoplesclimate.org/transportation/">group transportation options​</a>, and <a href="https&#58;//docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZDZfUCjUixSXloai1UiC-Zh4Bvp6BdWRarm37Vt4qPA/viewform?c=0&amp;w=1">RSVP on our Google Form​</a>&#160;as well.&#160;If you can't make it to New York, <a href="http&#58;//www.faithclimatepetition.org/ny-un-climate-summit.html">find or help plan an event</a> that weekend in your own community!</li></ol><p>As people of faith, we are equipped to name and to confront this moral crisis. As the impacts of Climate Change are becoming more severe on our most vulnerable neighbors, the time for action is now! Share how you are addressing climate change in your congregation or community, and be sure to pass along any stories you may have to our office (<a href="mailto&#58;Washington.Office@elca.org">Washington.Office@elca.org</a>)!&#160;</p></div>08/18/2014Lutheran participation in the 20th International AIDS Conference​Ulysses IIIhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/99http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/99<div class="ExternalClassF45126081B5744E6BE4DCE37CEFF4599"><p><em>Ulysses III from ELCA Young Adult Cohort AIDS 2014 reflects on their recent group trip to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia!&#160;You can check out the full blog article on </em><em><a href="https&#58;//elcaaids2014.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-aids-2014/">their website</a>.</em></p><p>&quot;As with most things in life, the 20th&#160;International AIDS Conference (IAC) and its associated events, were full of &quot;highs,&quot; but neither void of the &quot;lows,&quot; nor the &quot;really lows&quot; for that matter. Here I'll recap the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2014 Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) Interfaith Preconference and International AIDS Conference based solely on my opinion as a three time participant of both events.</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>The Good</strong></p><p>The Interfaith Preconference brought together the world's foremost faith leaders in HIV and AIDS to address what most faith groups are reluctant to discuss&#58; faith, stigma, sex, and HIV…To conclude the Interfaith Preconference, the EAA highlighted the voices of young adults for the first time in my history of attending, which is a move in the right direction for faith communities and the HIV and AIDS discussion in general.</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Clinton!.jpg" alt="Clinton!.jpg" style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;margin&#58;5px;width&#58;400px;" /><br></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><em style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">Bill Clinton speaking&#160;at the 20th International AIDS Conference</em></p><p>With headliners in the field of HIV medical research abound, the latest advances in the fight to end AIDS were brought to the stage; information presented publicly for the first time in some cases. Government dignitaries were present, most notably Bill Clinton who has been a regular at IAC and a faithful partner in the AIDS epidemic vis-à-vis The Clinton Foundation… By my assessment, there was far less science and far more social justice focus during AIDS 2014, which I see as a benefit to the majority of stakeholders in the AIDS epidemic&#58; people living with HIV, and advocates – mostly people who are not medical science professionals… As a faith representative I was equally pleased to see 8 faith related workshops during the main conference, the most since my participation in 2010 and 2012, and if I had to guess, probably the most ever.</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>The Bad</strong></p><p>Although the world's foremost faith leaders in HIV response were present at the Interfaith Preconference, they were the same leaders who've been out front since my introduction to the faith and HIV arena. If this was your first experience at such a forum you left encouraged and excited about what you were hearing from the faith community, but if you've been doing the work for a while, you realize there have been few new voices added to the conversation over the years….This is no fault of the EAA or those who continue to be present, but a testament to how far we've come by faith, and how much farther we still have journey to fully integrate our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques in the conversation on HIV, faith, sex, and stigma…The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has consistently been well represented during the preconference by its young adult delegation, often supplying the full complement of registrants under the age of 30… this is not an issue for the EAA to solve, rather a deeper issue of the faith community's need to engage youth and young adults more intentionally.</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>The Ugly</strong></p><p>…By far, the lowest moment of the IAC happened before the conference even began in the skies over the Ukraine/Russia conflict zone when flight MH17 was downed by a missile fired as a result of what's believed to be mistaken identity. We quickly learned that many of the passengers on the plane were delegates headed to Melbourne for the IAC, including world renowned HIV expert and former IAS president, Joep Lange. Needless to say this sad and unfortunate event completely changed the tone of a conference that otherwise gathers every two years to celebrate life. The impact was felt right away during the opening ceremony that usually has the feel of an international party, but felt more like a memorial service as moments of silence, tributes, and solemn song were abundant. Many of the persons lost were not only colleagues of those present, but close friends of a lot of the keynote speakers... IAS did its best to honor the lives of those lost in a way they would be proud of; by carrying on with AIDS 2014 in spite of the tragedy, because the best way to honor them, is to continue the work they began.</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Conference.jpg" alt="Conference.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;400px;height&#58;300px;" /><br></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><em>Participants​&#160;join in an interfaith worship service</em><br></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>El Fin</strong></p><p>The 20th International AIDS Conference and its associated events were not short of ups and downs, but life was present all around us, even in the wake of death; people LIVING with HIV, not dying. HIV and AIDS is no longer a death sentence, and even as many died trying to advance the work being done in the field, millions more will live as result of their sacrifice. AIDS 2014 was much more than a medical science conference; it was a gathering to celebrate humanity; a time to not just focus on HIV treatment, but people treatment; an opportunity to not just share the statistics, but to share the stories. AIDS 2014 was about &quot;Stepping up in Faith&quot; and &quot;Stepping up the Pace,&quot; leaving no one behind in the fight against AIDS. I look forward to continuing the good fight at AIDS 2016 in Durban, South Africa.&quot;</p></div>08/05/2014EPA Clean Power Plan Hearings: Days 2-3Mary Minette, Director of Environmental Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/97http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/97<div class="ExternalClassFA41CFDCEE28473E8267C86FCFD590F3"><p><em>Yesterday, Lutherans continued their testimonies at the Environmental Protection Agency. Our speakers were notably engaging, energized and forthright in their discussion on how climate change is an important matter in their community. Their testimonies gave an excellent impression, demonstrating how Lutherans are active and concerned about protecting&#160;God's creation. Here are some excerpts of their testimonies&#58;</em></p><p><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;text-align&#58;center;"><strong style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">7/30 Washington D.C. Hearing</strong><br></strong></p><p><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;text-align&#58;center;">Mary Minette, Director of Environmental Policy</strong></p><p>…We know that climate change has many other public health impacts, and that those impacts fall hardest on those who are most vulnerable, including children and the elderly, and particularly hard on vulnerable people who live in poverty.&#160;And we are already seeing the impact that a changing climate can have on food production and food security, with the drought in California as only the most recent example. &#160;&#160;</p><p>…The arguments of economic impact and job loss also ignore the costs of doing nothing, of allowing global temperatures to continue their upward trend and earth's climate to become less and less predictable.&#160; Losses in productivity, increases in food prices, dwindling supplies of water, will all have steep costs and huge economic impacts, together with the continued cost of responding to ever more frequent weather disasters.</p><p>We are faced with an important choice—we can act now, and help to protect future generations and God's creation from the worst impacts of climate change, or we can fail to act and let our children and the earth suffer the consequences. This rule is a critical step in the right direction.&quot;</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/epa3.jpg" alt="epa3.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;400px;height&#58;300px;vertical-align&#58;text-bottom;" /><br></p><div style="text-align&#58;center;"></div><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><em>​Mary Minette testifies before the EPA pannel&#160;</em><br></p><p><strong><strong style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">7/31 Pittsburg, PA Hearing</strong></strong></p><p><strong>The Rev. Paul Lubold</strong></p><p>I share their concern about the impacts of global climate change, especially as it takes its largest toll on &quot;the health of young children and their families, disproportionately affecting the poorest among us,&quot; </p><p>The Bishops [Elizabeth Eaton] wrote&#58; &quot;Multi-year droughts, sea level rise, extreme weather events and increased flooding dramatically affect communities internationally, from the… north slope of Alaska to Midwestern farming families to our brothers and sisters in the Philippines… We recognize with concern that climate change particularly harms low-income communities.&quot;</p><p>I also want to speak personally in support of the Clean Air plan… As a Christian, I believe that God created the earth, sky and seas.&#160; And that as creation was happening God declared that it was &quot;good.&quot;</p><p>God then entrusted humans with &quot;caretaking&quot; responsibilities... But unfortunately, we've not been all that 'responsible.' Rather than use natural resources, like fossil fuels, in a sustainable way, we have often squandered them for selfish, profit-driven reasons… If we who were entrusted to be &quot;care-takers&quot; of creation have an opportunity to make changes that would insure an environment that is 'more healthy' for our children and grandchildren, then we have <em>a moral imperative to do just that.</em></p><p><em><strong style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;text-align&#58;center;"><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/10517958_708345165868226_468551723894775184_n.jpg" alt="10517958_708345165868226_468551723894775184_n.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;410px;height&#58;234px;" /></strong></strong><br></em></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><em><span style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;text-align&#58;center;">​Lutheran Advocactes show support in Pittsburg​<br></span></em></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em><span style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;text-align&#58;center;"></span></em></p><p><strong><br></strong></p><p><strong>8/1 Pittsburg, PA Hearing</strong></p><p><strong>The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade, PhD</strong></p><p>&quot;…Yes, the new EPA rules will force Pennsylvania to reduce its air pollution and burn less coal. But <em>how</em> we adjust to less coal will make all the difference.&#160; If we build more renewable energy infrastructure and increase energy efficiency, our air <em>will</em> be cleaner and greenhouse gases will be reduced. But if we replace coal with fracked gas, we will only be making our air and atmosphere worse.&#160; These rules, as written, only codify the transition from coal to gas that is already underway. As well, the rule gives implicit consent to burn more trash, tires, coal sludge, and other forms of toxic waste for electricity.&#160; So while I believe the proposal is a good first step, it is not only inadequate, it will have the unintended consequence of replacing one source of dirty fuel with many others.</p><p>I am committed to helping people of faith learn how to do their part to care for God's Creation and support eco-justice issues.&#160; I call for the EPA to not only stand its ground with this rule, but to actually strengthen and expand it in order to put in place the strongest protections possible to defend public health, the fragile atmosphere of our planet, and the communities that will bear the costs and suffering from our addiction to fossil fuels and greenhouse gases.&quot;</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/The%20Rev%20%20Dr%20%20Leah%20Schade_headshot_speaking%20(2).jpg" alt="The Rev Dr Leah Schade_headshot_speaking (2).jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;300px;height&#58;400px;" /><br></strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><em>Rev. Schade speaks on the Clean Power Plan</em></p><p><strong>Pittsburg, PA Hearing </strong></p><p><strong>Cricket Eccleston Hunter, Executive Director, PA IPL</strong></p><p>&quot;Climate change magnifies ills that faith communities have long responded to&#58; food insecurity, water insecurity, disease, conflict, and many natural disasters, and we are stepping up again.&#160;&#160; We know that the EPA's charge is to protect the health and welfare of Americans.&#160; We also know that the health and welfare of other beings and other peoples is at risk.&#160; We act for them as well.&#160; </p><p>…Coal representatives will tell you that acting responsibly on carbon pollution will steal jobs from communities on the economic edge.&#160; They won't say that those jobs have never driven executive decision-making.&#160; They won't mention that those jobs are already in a decades-long decline, or that the decline is about bottom lines, not about federal policy nor even booming gas.&#160; Combined coal output from West Virginia and Kentucky has held nearly steady since 1983, but mining jobs have dropped by half. &#160;We <em>do</em> need to help generate new paths for employees and communities that currently depend on fossil fuels.&#160; Holding tight to the diminishing fuels of the 18<sup>th</sup> and 19<sup>th</sup> centuries instead of reaching forward to the power of the 21<sup>st</sup> is not the way to do it.&#160; </p><p>Like our faith communities, the United States is explicitly founded on values.&#160; As such, we have a unique opportunity to lead according to those values.&#160; When we don't, as we have not on climate change, our silence is deafening.&#160; When these proposed standards were announced in June, the world took note. China immediately began hinting at an absolute cap on its own carbon emissions, and has since created 8 pilot carbon trading markets.&#160; Christians talk about acting as a &quot;city on a hill&quot; — when we act as we should, using the gifts we've been given, the example shines, and draws others in.&quot;</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><em><span style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;text-align&#58;center;"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/395.JPG" alt="395.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;400px;height&#58;300px;" /><br></span></em></p><p><strong>You can add your voice to the conversation too! Send your comments to the EPA through our</strong><strong>&#160;</strong><a href="http&#58;//t.co/W9PsNhUXpx"><strong>Action Center</strong></a><strong>, and tell them that you support the new Carbon Rule on Existing Power Plants to protect our children's future!&#160; </strong></p></div>08/01/2014EPA Clean Power Plan Hearings: Day 1Mary Minette, Director of Environmental Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/96http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/96<div class="ExternalClass3032DA3FDF5549B38EFA849BA18C363F"><p><em>This week, several ELCA Lutherans have testified before the Environmental Protection Agency about the proposed rule to cut carbon emissions from power plants. Together, they affirmed why they believe protecting the earth and fighting climate change is a spiritual and moral issue. From concerned pastors to professors and engaged congregants across the U.S., their testimonies demonstrate why we all should be concerned about climate change. </em></p><p><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Rev. Robert Moss, ELCA Lutheran</strong><br></p><p><strong>7/29 Denver, CO Hearing</strong></p><p>&quot;For us as Lutheran Christians, addressing environmental concerns is part of what it means to live as responsible caretakers of the earth. We are pleased to join the conversation from an economic, scientific, political, and spiritual perspective, as these are all aspects of joining God in God's mission of caring for and renewing the earth. I believe that support for the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule to regulate and reduce carbon emissions is part of our responsibility. </p><p>In addition to so many other reasons why this matters, I want to remind you that climate change is already affecting global agriculture, and therefore food supplies and prices. Through no fault of their own, impoverished people, who are the most vulnerable because they rely solely on growing and selling a small crop for daily life, are losing their ability to do so. Alleviating hunger and global poverty are major concerns for me as a person of faith. Carbon emissions directly and adversely affect the hungry and poor we are so deeply concerned about. Continued climate change makes hunger and poverty issues an even larger challenge to deal with.&quot;</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/EPA%20Moss.JPG" alt="EPA Moss.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px 0px;width&#58;400px;height&#58;185px;vertical-align&#58;text-bottom;" />​<br></strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><em>Rev. Moss testifies before the EPA pannel</em></p><p><strong>Dr. James W. C. White, University of Colorado-Boulder</strong></p><p><strong>7/29 Denver, CO Hearing</strong></p><p>&quot;…at its core, climate change is a moral issue, and it is to this that I wish to speak. The first moral issue is how we treat our children. We live on a water planet, and again simple physics tells us that it will take decades for the ocean to warm and fully express the climate that goes with our current, high levels of greenhouse gases. This creates an intergenerational inequity. What we do, our children will have to deal with, and what they do, their children will have to deal with, and so forth. We all say that we love our kids. But how do we truly show it? Until one generation can set aside the lure of short-term gains for the long-term profit of our children, the cycle will never be broken. We need to express our love for our children in the very tangible way that this regulation provides. A second moral issue to consider is the disproportional impact that climate change has on the poor, both internationally and here in the US. Poorer nations and poorer people have less capability to adapt to issues such as sea level rise, access to clean water, and access to secure food supplies, as well as dealing with obvious problems such as heat waves and droughts. How do we, the rich, square this with our ethical obligation to those in need? Christ was clear&#58; &quot;…whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.&quot; </p><p>The proposed regulations will not fully address the problems that create the moral struggles we now face. But they are a start, a start that is achievable and promises to break the current stranglehold that keeps us from facing our obligations, both to our fellow humans, and to our God. And let us briefly ponder the moral costs. By taking action we show our love for children and grandchildren, we care for those in need, and we care for God's creation that He has lovingly provided for us. Not bad outcomes for doing the right thing. So let's do it.&quot; </p><p><strong>​Rev. Edward Wolff, ELCA Lutheran (TN)</strong></p><p><strong>7/29 Atlanta, GA Hearing</strong></p><p>&quot;What is happening to the earth, and therefore to us, cannot be explained in a brief period of time.&#160; Suffice it to say, briefly&#58;</p><ul><li>Last April, the average CO2 concentrations in the earth's atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million on a sustained basis for the first time in 800,000 years.</li><li>Thirteen of the fourteen hottest years ever measured with instruments have occurred in this century.</li><li>A trigger of the civil war in Syria has been identified as the drought from 2006 to 2010, where sixty percent of the farms and eighty percent of the livestock were destroyed.</li><li>A Pentagon advisory committee has described the climate crisis as a &quot;catalyst for conflict&quot; that may cause governmental and societal collapse.</li></ul><p>Honestly and personally, I'm scared, but the fear is not about me.&#160; I will not be here to see the results of a scarred earth if we continue down the same path.&#160; I am concerned for my grandchildren, all seven, and the great grandchildren that will come after.&#160; I am also concerned for this great nation.&#160; Catastrophic events, caused by climate change, can weaken and/or destroy any democracy, for all democracies are fragile, at best.&quot;</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">​​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/EPA2.JPG" alt="EPA2.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;400px;height&#58;318px;" /><br></p><p><strong>​You can add your voice to the conversation too! Send your comments to the EPA through our </strong><a href="http&#58;//t.co/W9PsNhUXpx"><strong>Action Center</strong></a><strong>, and tell them that you support the new Carbon Rule on Existing Power Plants to protect our children's future!&#160;​</strong></p></div>07/30/2014Veterans: Breaking the GridlockRev. Stacy Martin, Director of Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/95http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/95<div class="ExternalClass361AB1DFB0C742F89B4C68C7931F0ABF"><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><p><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;12px;"><strong></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Isaiah 41&#58;18</strong><br> <em>I will open rivers on the bare heights,</em><br><em> and fountains in the midst of the valleys;</em><br><em> I will make the wilderness a pool of water,</em><br><em> and the dry land springs of water.</em></span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">I believe it's safe to say that hope does not abound in Washington, DC. Partisan gridlock has produced a desert of sorts, for Members of Congress and advocates alike, in which no change can be accomplished and no hope resides. But, as the book of Isaiah reminds us, God's promises extend far beyond our inability to imagine springs of water bursting forth in the desert.</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">At a time when many of us considered Congressional compromise a veritable relic, this week a spring of water burst forth from the desert of vitriol and gridlock that has, regrettably, come to define Congress.</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">On Monday afternoon, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL), the chairpersons of their chambers' respective veterans' committees, announced a $17 billion compromise bill to address many of the problems that appear to affect the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).&#160;​</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"> </span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">This bill, a compromise between opposing philosophies about the role of government as well as government spending, would allow veterans, who either live far away from VA facilities or who are unable to secure an appointment with the VA within a certain number of days, to access medical services beyond the VA system. The bill attempts to further address the VA's issues by&#58; </span></p><ul><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><li><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">Including funding for additional doctors and facilities </span></li><li><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">Extending a treatment program for veterans with traumatic brain injuries. </span></li><li><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">Extending the GI Bill, which would help veterans more easily access and afford college tuition.</span></li></span></ul><p><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;"></span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">The bill appears to be a good first step in ensuring that veterans receive the kind of care that individuals who sacrifice so much should receive. And for that, Sen. Sanders and Rep. Miller should be commended. </span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">However, that the bill was introduced – even after much wrangling – as a bi-partisan compromise is worth more than mere commendation; it is worth celebrating. Rep. Miller commented Tuesday that he expects the House to support it with &quot;a wide bipartisan vote,&quot; and the Senate is expected to quickly sign off on the House's vote if scheduled quickly enough. </span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;'segoe ui', segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">In the desert of impasse and contempt that for too long has defined this town, there is hope that this beacon of cooperation and compromise can extend beyond the VA. Senator Sanders and Representative Miller have given us a long-awaited sip of the waters of cooperation and compromise we have so long thirsted for. They have given us reason to hope. We may still be in the desert, but springs of water are beginning to burst forth.&#160;</span></p></span></div>07/30/2014