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Shedding Light on the Federal Budget Process

April 5, 2011

By Marianne Comfort, Institute Justice Team

The Sisters of Mercy’s message about the federal budget is clear: the budget is a moral document that contains our nation’s priorities spelled out in each allocation of millions or billions of dollars. To help others join us in advocacy, the Institute Justice Team thought that it would be helpful to explain what is an often complicated process, to define some of the terms you’re hearing and to highlight some of the choices that Congress faces.

The Sisters of Mercy have been active, in coalition with others, in speaking out against proposed cuts in the current 2011 fiscal year budget that disproportionately affect persons who are poor and vulnerable.

As Sister Mary Waskowiak, RSM, president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, said of a more balanced approach that includes tax revenues and deeper cuts in military spending: “It’s the wise and compassionate thing to do for the general welfare of our country.”

Over the next few months, we’ll be calling for people to join us in urging Congress to make difficult choices for the general welfare of the country. To help you better understand the negotiations going on, we’ve put on our website a couple of resources filled with explanations and charts gleaned from some of our coalition partners and others:

  1. A primer on the federal budget process that covers the categories of spending under consideration and the timeframe for completing the budget
  2. glossary of terms used in budget discussions

We welcome learning how you use these resources and any suggestions you have for other educational materials on the federal budget and related issues. You may contact us at

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