Thanks for your work on the CARE Act! Your calls and contacts to your Senators paid off -- the Senate passed the CARE Act on April 9 by a vote of 95-5! The bipartisan Charity Aid, Recovery and Empowerment Act of 2003 (S. 476) passed, thanks to the leadership of cosponsors Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT). The bill as passed contained four provisions that have been a priority for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA:
- restoring $1.3 billion in funding to the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program
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
authorizing $33 million to establish group maternity homes for young mothers
We were also deeply disappointed that the White House announced its opposition to the CARE Act's restoration of SSBG funds. But we will move on now to the House of Representatives and urge them to follow the lead of the Senate and include full funding for SSBG in its bill.
NEXT STEPS: Call your Representative and let him or her know that you'd like the House of Representatives to pass the CARE Act as approved by the Senate, with full funding for SSBG.
Contact your Governor and the leaders of your state legislature and urge them to let the White House and the House of Representatives know that the full SSGB funding in the CARE Act is absolutely crucial for states and their ability to provide needed services to their citizens especially in this time of state fiscal crisis.
USCCB POSITION: The USCCB has been supportive of President Bush"s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives proposal and legislation to support faith-based and community organizations because we believed they would put new tools in the hands of those struggling daily to overcome the most difficult problems in our neighborhoods and communities: persistent poverty, violence, substance abuse, inadequate housing, and obstacles faced by those who are entering the job market. Faith-based groups should be allowed to participate in federally-funded programs to meet social needs on the same terms as other groups, without changing their fundamental nature or facing discrimination because of their religious identity. See Economic Justice For All, November, 1986; Moral Principles and Policy Priorities for Welfare Reform, March, 1995; and letters from USCCB, including joint letters with Catholic Charities USA, most recently in an April 7, 2003.
For more information on the CARE Act, contact Kathy Curran, 202-541-3188, firstname.lastname@example.org.