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Avoiding a Shutdown
Plenum is Finally Here
Washington, DC at night
The JCPA Plenum begins this Saturday night in Washington, DC. Delegates from communities around the country will be joining us for 4 days of speakers, workshops, Congressional visits, and schmoozing. This year, participants will hear from senior White House, Israeli Government, and Congressional officials, as well as engage in discussions with a broad range of public experts on topics from immigration and birthright citizenship, energy security, civility in the media, and the relationship between Jews and labor.

Returning to DC this year, the 2011 Plenum program includes an impressive list of speakers. Sunday morning, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren will discuss the changes sweeping the Middle East and the Israeli reaction, Iran’s nuclear program, and the state of peace talks with the Palestinians. Later that day, Peter Beinart, who recently wrote a controversial article on what he sees as the disconnect between the American Zionist establishment and a younger generation of liberal American Jews, will join a panel with Hillel President Wayne Firestone and The Israel Project President Jennifer Mizrahi, on how to reach the next
generation of Israel advocates. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist fire, AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka will join us to reflect on the lessons of that day and the relationship between Jews and labor that emerged from it.

Monday’s speakers will be coming to us from the halls of the Capitol and the White House. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will join former CIA Director James Woolsey and Rabbi David Saperstein
of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center to talk about the nexus of energy and environmental policy. Later, we are incredibly fortunate to have President Obama’s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett who will be speaking about the President’s plans to “Win the Future”, the successful cooperation between the White House and the JCPA, and the ongoing budget battle. And that night, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), will receive the Chernin Award for his work as a leader in promoting social justice.

Tuesday morning, Plenum participants will be taking full advantage of being in our nation’s capital. We will hear from newly elected Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) about the coming Congress, the political lay out, and plans from the Republican leadership. Afterwards, each community will have the chance to sit down with their Senators and Representatives in their Congressional offices to discuss with them the Jewish community priorities covered in the previous days.

From a Civility Institute where participants will learn the best practices and ideas to promote civility in their communities and workshops on literacy, interfaith relations, genocide, and bullying, to a concert with Neshama Carlebach, and more, this year’s Plenum is sure to be a success. For those of you who cannot attend, we’ll have daily JCPActs with updates on the speakers, resolutions, and more. You can also follow @theJCPA on Twitter and use #Plenum11 to get updates throughout the day.

Avoiding a Shutdown
After a week of negotiations, the House voted today on a two week extension of the FY2011 spending bill. This bill will allow federal government programs to continue to operate for at least two more weeks, until March 18th. The Continuing Resolution includes $4 billion in cuts and programmatic terminations to United States Department of Agriculture and Education programs, as well as cuts to various earmark projects. This move will prevent a government shut down for the time being, but there are still major differences between the passed House of Representatives spending bill (H.R.1) and the continuing resolution the Senate would likely consider. Our partners at the Coalition of Human Needs released a compelling report last week that reviews the differences between the President’s budget for the next fiscal year and the House plan for the remainder of this year. It shows how proposed budget cuts would both harm individuals and damage the country’s fragile economic recovery.
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