[Hpn] House Passes Bush's 'Faith-Based' Initiative;Washington Post;7/19/01

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Thu, 19 Jul 2001 19:40:08 -0400


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Thursday, July 19, 2001
Washington Post <http://www.washingtonpost.com>
[Washington, DC, USA]
Federal Page
Congress - 2001-2002 section
House Passes Bush's 'Faith-Based' Initiative

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 19, 2001; 4:58 PM

After a contentious debate, the House narrowly passed legislation today that 
would direct more federal funds to religious organizations that provide 
social services to the poor and other disadvantaged groups.

But even as lawmakers approved one of President Bush's top priorities
on a vote largely along party lines, the 233 to 198 tally signaled the
hurdles he faces in actually enacting the bill into law. Several
moderate Republicans joined Democrats in arguing the measure could lead to 
discrimination in federally funded charitable efforts, and key
lawmakers in the Senate have already raised similar objections.

The president's "faith-based" initiative would make it easier for
religious groups to receive federal funds for an array of social
services, including hunger relief and drug treatment. For example, under the 
bill such charities will no longer have to establish separate tax-exempt 
groups to run federally funded programs.

The legislation also includes tax breaks to promote charitable giving,
although this section is now much smaller than the president's original 
proposal. Bush initially outlined an $90 billion tax cut package over the 
next decade but that stands at $13 billion, allowing individuals who do not 
itemize their taxes to deduct up to $25 in donations at first and $100 in 10 

Most of the controversy has centered on whether the bill would allow
religious groups to proselytize and engage in discriminatory hiring with 
federal funds. Sponsors argue that they have included several
constitutional safeguards and are simply reaffirming a 1964 law that
lets religious organizations make hiring decisions based on their

Republican leaders spent most of yesterday trying to placate GOP
moderates who wanted to strike language from the bill exempting
religious organizations from state and local discrimination laws. The
section in question states that a religious group "shall have the right to 
maintain its autonomy from federal, state, and local government, including 
such organization's control over the definition, development, practice and 
expression of its religious beliefs."

The controversy over the bill's potential discriminatory effects gained 
attention last week after it was reported that the Salvation Army had said 
in a memo that the White House was committed to issuing a regulation denying 
federal funds to state or local governments that
required religious charities to hire gays or provide them with domestic 
partner benefits. After Democrats and civil rights advocates objected, Bush 
said he would not pursue such a policy.


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Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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