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Anti-Hunger Leaders Fast To Protest Proposed Spending Cuts As FY11 Budget Debate Resolution Appears Elusive

Leaders from “five anti-hunger organizations on Monday will lead open-ended fasts to protest proposed cuts to domestic and international food programs contained in the House-passed six-month spending bill,” The Hill’s “On The Money” blog reports.

Former Rep. Tony Hall (D-Ohio), who heads the Alliance to End Hunger; Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World; Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners; Ritu Sharma of Women Thrive; and Ruth Messinger of the American Jewish World Service will participate in the fast. An additional 350 people have pledged to join the fast, Beckmann said, adding that the groups are seeking more support. 

“Hall said that in part he hopes by using fasting and prayer, the groups will be able to finally draw attention to what foreign aid is used for, and he said he also hopes to appeal to religious conservative members of Congress to stop the cuts,” the blog reports, noting findings that indicate most Americans don’t have an accurate understanding of foreign aid spending. 

“H.R. 1, which the House passed in February, failed to pass the Senate and is the subject of negotiations now,” the blog notes (Wasson, 3/27). Meanwhile as Congress returns from recess, “[c]ongressional leaders and the White House have made little progress” on resolving the fiscal year 2011 budget, CQ reports.

“Despite ongoing staff-level negotiations between the Obama administration and leadership during the recess, the two parties remain deadlocked over a final bill to cover the government’s expenses through the end of fiscal 2011,” the news service writes (Young, 3/25). “Staff-level negotiations last week ran aground,” the Associated Press writes of the situation, “and the principals are going to have to pick up the pace to have any chance of making an April 8 deadline to avoid a partial shutdown of the government. Right now it appears that the shutdown that both sides have sworn to avoid is possible – if not probable” (3/28).