As a congressional panel in Washington, D.C., works to strike a deficit reduction compromise, some faith and nonprofit leaders in Nashville are hoping the poor won’t be forgotten.
A group that calls itself “Faithful Budget of Middle Tennessee” is holding a prayer vigil Tuesday to urge congressional leaders to protect federal programs for the poor. The event, scheduled for 4 p.m. outside the federal courthouse at Ninth Avenue and Broadway, comes as a congressional supercommittee nears a Nov. 23 deadline to find an agreeable combination of spending cuts and revenue increases.
Rev. Jay Voorhees of the Old Hickory United Methodist Church, an organizer of what he called a “word-of-mouth” campaign, said “safety net” programs have historically endured the brunt of cuts both federally and locally.
“As the federal conversations continue to talk about additional cuts, all we are asking is that our congressional leaders remember how much those programs have already been cut, and try to protect those programs in the budget,” Voorhees told The City Paper.
“We recognize that there’s a fixed amount of dollars, and you can only do what you can do,” he said. “But, on the other hand, social programs for the poor have been disproportionably cut up to this point.”
Nashville faith and nonprofit leaders have posted their message on a website at www.faithfulbudgettn.org.
Voorhees said approximately 140 people have signed an online letter to congress that urges Washington leaders to “not cause further hardship” among the impoverished.
“We urge you to ensure that people who are impoverished, hungry, homeless, disabled and elderly, both in the United States and abroad, are not asked to sacrifice what little they have,” the letter states. “We believe the programs that serve them must be exempted from budget cuts by appropriators and in the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.”