HENRY WAXMAN MEETS WITH OU LEADERSHIP; DEMOCRACTIC CONGRESSMAN DISCUSSES ISRAEL AND ENERGY WITH ORTHODOX COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP
The leadership of the Orthodox Union (Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, hosted Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) at Congregation Beth Jacob in Los Angeles. Mr. Waxman discussed key issues with the community leaders including the U.S.-Israel relationship; the current efforts by the Obama Administration to broker Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; and the Iranian nuclear threat. Congressman Waxman specifically discussed how he serves as the “informal chair” of the “informal congressional Jewish caucus” and gave the Orthodox Union leaders insights into the discussions he and other Jewish Members of Congress have had with President Obama.
On the domestic policy front, the topic of energy legislation was extensively discussed, as well as the financial challenges confronting Jewish day schools and other nonprofits during the economic downturn. Congressman Waxman is the chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee which had direct oversight over key energy legislation that the Orthodox Union fought for during the entirety of this Congress.
Congressman Waxman was instrumental in passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) with a specific inclusion of faith-based properties in the Act’s building retrofit program designed to provide subsidies of up to fifty percent of the cost of retrofitting a building’s energy systems.
When the Committee released a discussion draft of the legislation providing energy retrofits for residential and commercial buildings while neglecting non-profits, the Orthodox Union brought this omission to the attention of Congressman Waxman who agreed that amending the language would expand the goals of this program by allowing full participation. Although the Senate chose not to pass the legislation and the important non-profit provision, the Orthodox Union and Congressman Waxman remain dedicated to identifying a future direction for passage.
Nathan Diament, Director of Public Policy for the Orthodox Union stated, “It was great to meet Congressman Waxman in his district and discuss the important issues on which he works so closely with the Orthodox Union in Washington to help his constituency in Los Angeles. Congressman Waxman is a thoughtful and strong supporter of Israel and a champion of energy legislation which would provide fundamental and sweeping relief to our nation’s Jewish day schools and synagogues.”