Jewish Federation Washington Update: March 1, 2013

Automatic Federal Cuts likely to Impact JUF/JF Affiliate Agency Social Services and Israel Security Funding 
As the sequestration goes into effect with no agreement in sight, the immediate fallout is still unclear. The Jewish Federation  Washington Office is working with elected and appointed officials to determine the impact on JUF/JF affiliate agency programs as well as security funding for Israel. It ultimately depends on how long this impasse continues. Some of the key safety net programs such as Medicaid and SNAP (food stamp program) are not impacted by cuts. Medicaid funding helps JUF/JF Affiliate Agencies provide health care services to the most needy. However, other critical programs are not protected from cuts. If the cuts stretch from a few weeks to months, the cuts will be dramatic. 

Security funding for Israel is not immune to the these cuts. This funding could be cut as much as $300 million if the impasse continues several months.  Military assistance funds state of the art hardware such as  missile systems and the Iron Dome defense. 

House Passes Domestic Violence Prevention Legislation 
The House passed S. 47, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) by a vote of 286-138 on Thursday (February 28). VAWA has provided protection from domestic abuse since 1994 by providing millions of dollars in aid, thousands of beds for emergency shelters, counseling, legal advice, and hotline support. S. 47 passed the Senate by a vote of 78-22 on February 12 with the help of both Illinois Senators Richard Durbin and Mark Kirk. The legislation now heads to President Obama's desk where he is expected to sign it.

The JUF/JF Washington Office advocated for the passage over the last several months on behalf of the community and JUF/JF Affiliate Agencies Jewish Child and Family Services (JCFS) and SHALVA, which both provide programs for victims of domestic violence. JCFS manages a domestic abuse prevention and education program through Jewish Community Abuse Resources, Education and Solutions (JCARES), while SHALVA gives free confidential domestic abuse counseling services to the Chicago Jewish community.

Iran Sanctions Bill Introduced with help of Illinois Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-16) and Brad Schneider (D-10) 
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and ranking Democrat Eliot L. Engel of New York introduced a bill Wednesday that would bar a range of international commerce with Iran, beyond the energy and financial transactions U.S. sanctions laws have targeted thus far. An even more expansive Senate bill, which is expected to be introduced by Illinois Senator Kirk, is in the works. Foreign Affairs Committee Members Adam Kinzinger and Brad Schneider are original cosponsors of the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, which authorizes the president to sanction foreign entities who engage in "significant" commercial trade with Iran.

On February 25th, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators led by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) urged European Union officials to authorize the body's central bank to shut Iran out of its money transfer system. The letter to the president of the European Council, signed by 36 senators, asks the council to direct the European Central Bank to ban access by Iranian regime officials to "Target2," the bank's cross-border funds transfer system. The senators allege that Iran uses the system to launder euros in its accounts, allowing it to alleviate the US and European sanctions.

Amy M. York is assistant vice president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and head of its Washington, DC office. 

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