April 12, 2002
The Honorable Max Baucus
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Baucus:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA strongly support S. 1924, the Charity Aid, Recovery and Empowerment Act of 2002 (CARE Act). We see this bill as an important step in implementing the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives proposal, which we also support, by targeting new public and private resources for the struggle to overcome poverty. We are writing to urge that the Senate Finance Committee mark-up S. 1924 as soon as possible after the April recess.
As we are seeing throughout the country, the long-term economic impact of September 11, together with continuing effects of the recent economic downturn, have placed new and urgent demands on traditional faith-based and secular charities that serve the poor and vulnerable. Reports from social service agencies indicate that donations are not keeping pace with need. In this time of economic uncertainty, the partnership between the federal government and private charities is even more critical. We believe three aspects of the CARE Act are particularly important, and urge the Committee to preserve these provisions as introduced:
- allowing non-itemizers to claim charitable deductions on their taxes to spur additional private giving;
- creating a Compassion Capital fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building for faith-based and community groups; and
- providing additional funding for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program.
We look forward to working with you to pass the CARE Act to provide much-needed federal and private resources to charities serving Americans in need.
Theodore E. Cardinal McCarrick
Archbishop of Washington
Chairman, Domestic Policy Committee
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Rev. J. Bryan Hehir
Catholic Charities USA