Public Policy: Federal
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The Jewish Federation Federal Government Affairs staff are located in Washington, DC.
JUF’s Federal Government Affairs office advocates for policy solutions that strengthen and support our community with a focus on: domestic policy issues that impact our affiliated health and human services agencies and vulnerable populations, including children, youth and families, seniors, and people with disabilities, in the Chicago metropolitan area; and foreign policy issues affecting the safety, stability, and security of Israel by:
- Ensuring Access to Affordable and High-Quality Health Care: JUF/Federation affiliates provide inpatient and outpatient health care, long term care, rehabilitation, respite, personal care, and other services to people of all ages, faiths, and incomes. We advocate for programs that support affordable, high quality health services and oppose efforts to undermine access to health care through the elimination of the Medicaid expansion, block granting or imposing per capita caps on Medicaid, and reducing Medicare benefits. JUF/Federation also supports the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides vital health care to tens of thousands of Illinoisans every year.
- Preserving a Strong Safety Net for Vulnerable Populations:
Our affiliated agencies provide a range of services to low-income individuals and families. Ensuring that there is a strong safety net to assist people who are at risk for falling into deep poverty and preventing any erosion of effective anti-poverty programs is part of our mission. JUF/Federation advocates for social service programs that help to break the cycle of poverty and improve life outcomes, such as the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
- Empowering Older Adults to Live Healthier and More Independent Lives:
Our network provides a range of care for older adults, including transportation, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, behavioral health, adult day care, respite for family caregivers, home delivered meals, person-centered trauma-informed care for Holocaust Survivors, employment programs, housing, rehabilitation, innovative home and community-based long-term support services, and long-term care in assisted living settings. We advocate for programs that will meet the needs of a rapidly growing population of older adults and for funding to support quality long term care for older people of all incomes, and therefore, urge Congress to reauthorize the Older American’s Act.
- Making our Communities Inclusive to People with Disabilities:
Through our network JUF/Federation creates a wide range of opportunities for people with disabilities to engage fully in community life by providing educational support, housing, job training, employment services and opportunities, synagogue participation, and community-based services for adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. We advocate for programs that break down barriers, and help to integrate people with disabilities in schools, in the workplace, in residential settings and in the broader community. We support full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, the reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person Medicaid demonstration program, the solvency of the Social Security Disability Fund, the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the passage of legislation that promotes greater inclusion and opportunity for people with disabilities.
- Ensuring Access to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services:
Helping people with mental health and substance abuse problems is an important priority for our affiliates that provide critical inpatient crisis care, counseling, and referrals. Funding for the Mental Health Services Block Grant and the reauthorization of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and community mental health programs are vital to support people in need of mental health treatment and services. In addition, JUF/Federation supports mental health parity which will lead to improved care coordination and the integration of mental health care with general medical care, as well as efforts to strengthen parity compliance among health insurance plans.
- Helping Children, Youth, and Families:
JUF/Federation affiliates provide a robust range of care, including early childhood services, afterschool and educational programs, and recreation and camp programs. In addition, our network provides services for those with emotional and behavioral needs and those who have encountered abuse and neglect, and violence. We advocate for government programs that invest in children, youth, and families through prevention and early intervention, including the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, teen pregnancy prevention, child abuse prevention, foster care support, domestic violence intervention, protection for human trafficking victims, elder abuse prevention, and Head Start.
- Strengthening Jewish Education and Engagement:
JUF/Federation supports formal and informal Jewish education in a variety of forms, including Jewish day schools and early childhood education programs, Hebrew language classes in public schools, and the vibrant role of Hillel and other college programs on campus. JUF/Federation also supports the expansion of federal tax incentives that can reduce the cost of Jewish day school tuition, including the expansion of the Coverdell Education Savings Accounts that protect contributions from tax liability.
- Safeguarding the Jewish Community from Terrorism:
JUF/Federation supports efforts to improve preparedness and mitigate the constant threats to Jewish communal institutions. This includes our support for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which has provided 215 awards for over 90 sites in the Chicago area since the program was enacted in 2005. This critical funding goes toward the purchase and installation of equipment to deter potential attackers and harden their physical sites, as well as staff training to prepare and be able to respond to attacks. Unfortunately, security threats are on the rise. We advocate for increased funding to meet this growing need.
- Maximizing Incentives for Charitable Giving and Supporting the Work of Nonprofits:
As a charitable organization, JUF/Federation depends on the generous contributions from our community to support our efforts to carry out our mission to provide health and human services to the most vulnerable citizens in the Chicago metropolitan area. JUF/Federation advocates to protect against efforts to limit or eliminate the charitable deduction. We also oppose the health insurance excise tax—the “Cadillac Tax”—on employers, anti-lobbying restrictions on nonprofits, and impediments to nonprofit governance, operations and fundraising, particularly those relating to Donor Advised Funds and Supporting Organizations. In addition, we oppose any changes that would significantly weaken the “Johnson Amendment,” which prohibits public charities and religious institutions from endorsing or opposing candidates for elected office. JUF/Federation advocates for legislation to reduce pension premium rates for multiple employer pension plans, such as those administered by JUF/Federation, by amending Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) funding rules to allow Cooperative and Small Employer Charity pension plans to fall under multiple-employer pension plan rules, not rules designed for single-employer plans.
- Strengthening the U.S.-Israel Relationship and the Security of Jews Worldwide:
Protecting the U.S.-Israel relationship is an important priority for the Chicago Jewish community and JUF/Federation. The U.S.-Israel relationship has always been and should remain a bipartisan issue. We advocate for a strong and secure Israel and a peace process that includes direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and a two-state solution to ensure peace in the Middle East. JUF/Federation supports efforts to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement domestically and internationally, as well as other assaults on Israel’s legitimacy and economic security. JUF/Federation advocates for the rights and security of Jews around the world, and advocates for policies that seek to address anti-Semitism and hate crimes in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, JUF/Federation advocates for policies that will prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
- Welcoming Immigrants and Refugees as Full Participants in American Society:
In keeping with our Jewish tradition of welcoming immigrants and refugees to the United States, JUF/Federation supports government policies, which are humane, safe, and treat newcomers with respect and dignity, and uphold our values as a welcoming nation. Our Jewish values compel us to reaffirm the need for a robust refugee policy that balances our nation’s noble ideal of serving as a safe harbor for those fleeing persecution because of their religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group with concerns over our nation’s security. With 65 million refugees worldwide, the most at any time in recorded history, we must continue to be that beacon of hope. We advocate for funding for programs and services that help refugees coming to the United States make a successful transition to self-sufficiency as they seek to rebuild their lives in our country. We also advocate for permanent protections, including a pathway to legal permanent status and eventual citizenship, for hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth—those eligible for the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program—who are at risk for deportation since the program was terminated in 2017. In addition, we oppose any policy that decreases legal immigrants’ access to many essential federal safety net health and human services programs and has adverse consequences for immigrants and their families.
- Protecting our Civil Rights and Religious Freedom:
In partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), JUF/Federation advocates for hate crimes legislation; religious accommodation in the workplaces; and efforts to protect individual and voluntary prayer in school, while protecting students from inappropriate school-sponsored prayer sessions.