US interfaith group preempts impasse with alternative budget

Faithful Budget cover

Around-mid-year the U.S. Congress will likely enter into yet another budget battle.

The national debt ceiling of the world's biggest economy and the 2014 fiscal year budget are both on the table, and, already, partisan blows are being exchanged between the dominant Democratic and Republican parties .

Last month, after a Senate vote on the so-called Ryan budget, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., dismissed the document as an "uncompromising" and "ideological."

On Tuesday, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked for unanimous consent to appoint senators to the joint Senate-House committee that will attempt to reconcile their two different budgets, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the move nothing but a "stunt."

But also on Tuesday, a wide-reaching group of faith leaders calling themselves the Faithful Budget Campaign released their own budget, a document meant to be an expression of faith "that stands in stark contrast to the partisan budget proposals currently under consideration."

"The Faithful Budget reflects our vision of a responsible fiscal plan that focuses on justice and economic opportunity for all," said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the Catholic social justice organization Network.

Initially endorsed by 37 denominations and organizations, including Pax Christi USA, the Islamic Society of North America and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Faithful Budget calls for a national budget infused with the fundamental values of mutual caring and responsibility.

To that end, it promotes specific principles such as quality health care for all Americans, responsible and sustainable environmental choices and the prioritization of "true human security."

"God's abundant provision means that there is enough for all, if we act with justice and compassion," said Rev. John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, which has also endorsed the budget.

This is the second budget produced by the Faithful Budget Campaign. Their first budget came in 2012, though the organization has been active since 2011.

That summer, they held daily prayer vigils on Capitol Hill and organized grassroots campaigns to keep poverty initiatives from being slashed in federal budget cuts.

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