Ryan spars with US bishops over criticism of budget cuts

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sought to diminish the importance of letters criticizing his budget from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), saying the group doesn’t represent all bishops.

“These are not all the Catholic bishops, and we just respectfully disagree,” Ryan told Fox News on Thursday.

But USCCB spokesman Don Clemmer told The Hill that the letters do represent all Catholic bishops, as they were penned by members of the church that were elected to represent the bishops on policy matters at the national level.

“Bishops who chair USCCB committees are elected by their fellow bishops to represent all of the U.S. bishops on key issues at the national level,” Clemmer said. “The letters on the budget were written by bishops serving in this capacity.”

On Tuesday, the bishops sent the fourth in a series of letters to the House and Senate criticizing the House-passed budget for failing to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs that “serve poor and vulnerable people.” The letter criticized cuts in the Ryan budget to food stamps and other assistance programs for the poor.

The letters also pressured some House committees to maintain current low-income assistance programs.

The letters follow Ryan’s comments last week that his Catholic faith shaped the budget he authored. He also argued the budget is consistent with Catholic teachings.

In a letter sent to the House Agriculture Committee on Monday, Bishop Stephen Blaire, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, singled out food stamp programs, urging lawmakers to reject “unacceptable cuts to hunger and nutrition” programs for “moral and human reasons.” He said spending cuts should instead be made to subsidy programs that “disproportionately go to large growers and agribusiness.” [More]


The Hill