Senators Deal on Faith-Based Initiative

March 29, 2003

Source: The New York Times

On March 29, 2003 The New York Times reported that "the leading Congressional sponsor of President Bush's religion-based initiative has agreed to strip the measure of a provision that would have helped religious groups compete for government grants... The sponsor, Senator Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, agreed to the change after weeks of negotiations with Democratic opponents, Senators Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Jack Reed of Rhode Island. The two had vowed to try to amend the bill, which offers tax breaks and other aid to charities... Mr. Durbin and Mr. Reed objected to a provision that offered groups with religious names or religious icons in their literature explicit protection from disqualification in applying for government grants... Mr. Reed said he feared that the provision would give tax dollars to groups that made their services contingent on the client listening to sermons or taking part in other religious activities... Mr. Durbin said he feared it would open the door to discrimination in employment. And he said he worried how the government would audit the money without appearing to interfere in the business of tax-exempt religious groups."