Mark Dann: Appropriations - the most wonderful time of the year

Mark DannIt’s appropriations season on Capitol Hill — the most wonderful time of the year for government affairs folks like me! FFRF is working on appropriations, and I’d like you to get involved.

Appropriations season is marvelous because the appropriations bills clearly state what the values of government are, what will be funded and what will not. Plus, Congress has a tremendous incentive to get these bills done because they keep the government open. The fun of appropriations is that we can make our voice heard in this process, getting a lot of attention and showing the priorities for the pro-secular majority in the House.

At the beginning of the appropriations season, usually after the first of the year, members talk with their constituents and organizations like FFRF on what should be the spending priorities. Groups like ours petition a member’s office to get our ideas inserted into the appropriations bills.

This year we have two major “asks.” The first is inserting strong nondiscrimination language to protect the separation of state and church, preserve key civil rights threatened by the Trump administration, and fight Christian Nationalism.

We can use appropriations to block funding to these noxious entities and stand up for our values. The Congressional Freethought Caucus chairs, Reps. Jared Huffman and Jamie Raskin, have sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter in which other members can sign on to gain more support for our ideas. The more members that sign on, the better the chances that we will be able to make a clear stand against Christian Nationalism and get our ideas into the appropriations bill.

If you haven’t already, will you please contact your member of Congress (calls are best) and urge him or her to sign on to Huffman and Raskins’ “Anti-Discrimination Measures and Preserve Separation of State and Church” proposal?

Our second appropriations ask is to make sure all Americans have access to secular recovery options, a constitutional right. Religious 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous are widely available and are often a default treatment option. We are changing that. We want to expand recovery options for all Americans. Last year, we got an insertion into the federal budget that empowers federal agencies to work with secular mutual-support recovery providers. This year, we are building on that idea. We want to make those partnerships mandatory.

If our ideas are accepted by the appropriations committee, the bill will send a clear signal that secular values are American values.

All the best,

Mark Dann Signature

Mark Dann
Director of Governmental Affairs
Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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