[Hpn] Faith-Based Plan Revamped: Bush is trying to revive legislation ...

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Mon, 25 Jun 2001 13:00:13 -0400


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-------Forwarded article-------

Monday, June 25, 2001
Washington Post <http://www.washingtonpost.com>
[Washington, D.C.]
Faith-Based Plan Revamped
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40943-2001Jun24.html>
Bush is trying to revive legislation by adding strict conditions for funds


Bush Aims to Get Faith Initiative Back on Track
Stricter Rules to Be Added For Use of Funds by Groups

By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 25, 2001; Page A01


CRAWFORD, Tex., June 24 -- President Bush, facing broad opposition to his 
plan to help churches get federal contracts for social services, is trying 
to revive the legislation by adding stricter requirements for use of the 
money, administration officials said today.

The change is part of an effort by Bush and his staff to get the legislation 
back on track after Republican lawmakers told the administration privately 
that it is dead in its current form. Bush plans to tell a U.S. Conference of 
Mayors annual meeting Monday in Detroit that under his plan, federal money 
that goes to religious organizations "must be spent on social services, not 
worship services."

The president's faith-based initiative was one of the earliest entries on 
his list of six top goals and is the one to which he is most personally 
attached. It is designed to allow religious groups the chance to win federal 
contracts to help juvenile delinquents, the homeless and the elderly without 
making the programs secular.

Bush plans to stress the benefits black congregations -- 70 percent of which 
have community-outreach programs -- would gain from his plan. In addition, 
the president is to announce a letter of endorsement for the legislation 
from civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. She says it would reduce 
"discriminatory barriers currently suffered by the many grass-roots churches 
who are unable to access funding for education and social welfare programs."

Bush, who went swimming today as he finished a three-day weekend at his 
ranch in Crawford, is using the Detroit speech to open the public phase of 
his rescue mission. White House officials say the faith-based plan began to 
founder while the administration was focusing on winning passage of the tax 
cut that the president signed June 7.

The administration's efforts over the past three weeks constitute a rare 
admission by White House officials that they had mishandled one of Bush's 
signature initiatives. House Republican leaders had hoped to pass the 
legislation before the July 4 recess, but House officials said that is 
unlikely.

Several Republican lawmakers have warned the administration that the 
faith-based legislation introduced in the House is unacceptable to Democrats 
and has no chance in the Senate. Some White House officials say House 
conservatives overreached when they were writing the bill, giving too much 
leeway to churches. Some congressional negotiators retort that the president 
invited trouble by sketching his plan too vaguely.

A senior Democratic Senate aide said, "There is a lot of discomfort over 
here with the civil rights protections and also the constitutional 
safeguards -- where they would draw the church-state line. It is beyond dead 
unless there are significant changes."

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Judiciary 
Committee, which has jurisdiction over part of the bill, told Vice President 
Cheney recently that the administration would never achieve bipartisan 
support for the legislation in its original form. Sensenbrenner promptly 
received calls from Bush and Attorney General John D. Ashcroft seeking to 
satisfy his objections, administration sources said.

The White House worked with House aides last week to add language spelling 
out protections that the administration contends it intended all along. The 
administration wants new language specifying that direct government grants 
must go to a separate account from private funds, officials said. Bush also 
wants faith-based groups to have the same accountability requirements, 
including self-audits, as other government contractors. And they want an 
individual who objects to the religious component of a program -- for 
example, a prayer service in a homeless shelter -- to be able to skip it and 
still get the social services.

John J. DiIulio Jr., director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and 
Community Initiatives, said he is optimistic about the package's eventual 
success. He added that he believes the changes in the legislation are 
pushing it toward common ground that still achieves Bush's aim of "helping 
these groups that serve God with gladness."

"Democracy is about deliberation," DiIulio said. "We should think of ways to 
satisfy legitimate concerns, especially when they come from the chairman of 
a key committee."

Bush held a meeting Friday with about 30 ministers in Birmingham. 
Participants said Bush prayed with the ministers, several of whom had 
supported Vice President Al Gore in the presidential election, and told them 
his plan was a way to help alleviate urban problems.

The administration has also been working behind the scenes to build support 
for the plan. Michael S. Joyce, a proponent of school choice who has been 
developing the intellectual framework for faith-based efforts for 12 years, 
said Bush asked him at a Rose Garden ceremony May 10, "Did Karl call you 
yet?" Joyce said Karl Rove, Bush's senior adviser, phoned later that day and 
asked Joyce "to undertake a private initiative to help get this legislation 
through."

Joyce said that he insisted on independence from the White House and that 
the specifics were left up to him. On June 1, Joyce opened Americans for 
Community and Faith-Centered Enterprise with a stable of consultants and 
lobbyists and an office on Pennsylvania Avenue. He hopes to raise $500,000.

"For a lot of people, this conjures images of serpent-handlers and speaking 
in tongues," Joyce said. "We're busy convincing centrist Democrats that 
allowing equal access to public resources is not establishing a religion."

Bush's plan has critics across the political spectrum. Conservative 
Christians have said they fear government involvement in church programs 
could lead to corruption and waste. Civil rights groups worry that 
government money could go to groups that discriminate in their employment 
and that the plan will lead to cuts in government programs. Americans United 
for Separation of Church and State calls the plan "unconstitutional, 
unnecessary and unworkable."

Administration lobbyists maintain that support for the program also is 
unusually broad, and they are circulating letters of endorsement from 
Habitat for Humanity International, the United States Catholic Conference, 
the National Association of Evangelicals and the Salvation Army.

The administration also hopes to get mileage from a U.S. Conference of 
Mayors resolution, to be passed Monday, noting that cities have long worked 
closely with faith-based and community service groups. The resolution said a 
survey found that mayors of 164 cities have designated liaisons to such 
groups.

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



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