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 doesnâ€™t represent all bishops.
â€œThese are not all the Catholic bishops, and we just respectfully disagree,â€ 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.
â€œBishops 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,â€ Clemmer said. â€œThe letters on the budget were written by bishops serving in this capacity.â€
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 â€œmoral criteriaâ€ by disproportionately cutting programs that â€œserve poor and vulnerable people.â€ 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 Ryanâ€™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 â€œunacceptable cuts to hunger and nutritionâ€ programs for â€œmoral and human reasons.â€ He said spending cuts should instead be made to subsidy programs that â€œdisproportionately go to large growers and agribusiness.â€ [More]