Lenten Series: On Holy Thursday May Congress Open Their Eyes

Thom Shellabarger |

Well, Congress left town again without providing financial relief to the long-termed unemployed workers that so urgently need help. Neither did they reform our dismal immigration system; nor did they increase the minimum wage.

The Senate did pass a short-termed extension of federal unemployment benefits, while it is retroactive to the beginning of the year, it is of short duration. However, the House is unlikely to take up the bill, leaving the problem unresolved. Similarly, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to reform our immigration system months ago. Again, the House is unlikely to take up the bill. After the recess, the Senate is likely to pass an increase to the minimum wage (including tipped wages). However, we are told that the House is unlikely to take up the legislation. Seems like a pattern to me! The Senate acts and the House does nothing.

Last Supper

This Congressional recess is timed to allow Members and their staff to celebrate Passover or Easter. For many Christians, the 40 days of Lent ends on Thursday of Holy Week. Holy Thursday commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper, where he urged followers to share bread and wine in his memory. It is a night of prayer, celebration and remembrance. It begins a story of betrayal, agony and passion. The ancient story certainly reminds us of how quickly public sentiment can change: Jesus goes from being cheered as he enters the city to being jeered as he ignominiously dies on the cross. Yet, He lives!

Let us pray that every Member of Congress will open her or his eyes to the many people among us who struggle to provide for their family. The unemployed who can’t find a job or those working at minimum wage and still living in poverty all across America. May this Holy Season bring a change of heart and a renewed sense of dignity and purpose.

Thom is IWJ's Public Policy Associate and works in Washington to lobby Congress to advance legislation that lifts up the dignity of work. He's been working with allies on renewing unemployment insurance, reforming the U.S. immigration policy and raising the federally minimum wage to one that supports working families. His reflections are part of IWJ's Lenten Series.