From the Hill

by Becca Eastwood, Advocacy Associate

The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach bridges Columban communities in the U.S. and around the world and policymakers in Washington, D.C. We work to elevate the Columban perspective and knowledge on issues ranging from international trade to climate change to U.S./Mexico border policy. ‘From The Hill’ recaps the month’s most pressing issues that we’re following! To take action on these and other issues, sign up for our action alerts!

In the last ‘From the Hill’ we looked back on 2016 and its challenges and successes. We ended this reflection with: “In light of the events of 2016, we believe it is more important than ever to work together to uphold the values, principles, and priorities of the Columban community.” We are now two months into 2017 and we continue to hold strongly to our commitment to Columban values. Below are a few reasons why.

The New Administration and Nominations

January 2017 ushered in the beginning of a new administration lead by the new president. As the new president begins to set his agenda, the Columban Center will continue to strongly advocate that any legislation or action reflects our values of care for creation, human dignity, welcome, and peace.

Along with a new president comes a host of nominations to fill the open positions in the cabinet and governmental agencies. Once someone has been nominated for a position, the Senate holds a hearing to question and vet the nominee on their background and priorities. A number of the nominees have already been confirmed by the Senate, including Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, Scott Pruitt as Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, General John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security, Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, and Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Though these nominees were the subject of much debate, they were all confirmed. There are still a number of nominations left, including those for the Department of Interior and Department of Energy.

Executive orders

The administration signed into effect a number of executive orders during their first few weeks, including orders on trade, pipelines, immigration, and refugees. Most of these executive orders directly contradict Columban values and priorities. In response, the Columban Center launched a Columban Week of Action that allowed Columban supporters to take action on each of the new executive orders. During this week of action, Columbans stood for just trade policies, environmental policies that care for creation and curb climate change, humane border policies, and emphasized the importance of welcoming those seeking safety and stability in our country.

Action in Congress

While the administration has been nominating people for cabinet positions and signing executive orders, Congress has also taken action by rolling back a number of environmental and transparency regulations put in place by the previous administration. In particular, Congress voted along party lines to eliminate a rule which required oil, gas, and mining companies to publicly disclose all payments to host governments for access to natural resources. Through their work, Columbans know that many of the countries that suffer from the greatest rates of poverty and inequality are also those richest in natural resources. The rule that Congress voted to gut would have been critical in allowing citizens to hold their governments accountable and uncover corruption, which is a driver of poverty and conflict.