Background: We continue to work for Senate passage of the Charity Aid, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Act (S. 1924), a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Rick Santorum (R-PA). The CARE Act seeks to provide crucial resources to the faith-based and secular charities that serve our needy brothers and sisters, through provisions that include:
- Tax-code changes to allow non-itemizers to take a tax deduction for a portion of their charitable contributions (a proposal long supported by the Conference);
- Funding for a Compassion Capital fund to provide technical assistance to small charities; and,
- Significant additional resources for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program and the Second Chance/Maternity Group Homes to enable religious and secular charities to provide needed social services.
The USCCB and Catholic Charities USA have endorsed the CARE Act (see joint letters on our website at www.usccb.org/sdwp).
The co-sponsors have been working with Senate leadership to bring the CARE Act to the floor, but unfortunately several Senators have taken steps to block it, holding the bill and the help it will provide to the poor hostage. Time is running out in this legislative session, and it's very important to get a vote in the Senate as soon as possible.
Action Requested: Contact your Senators and let them know you want the Senate to pass the CARE Act now. Ask them to urge Senators Daschle and Lott to bring it to the floor for a vote. Thank those Senators who are CARE Act cosponsors. If your Senators are not cosponsors, ask them for a commitment that they will not block the CARE Act from coming to a vote. Contact Senators Daschle and Lott directly and ask them to make sure the Senate votes on the CARE Act.
CARE Act cosponsors: Allard (CO), Bayh (IN), Bennett (UT), Bond, (MO) Brownback (KS), Carnahan (MO), Cleland (GA), Clinton (NY), Cochran (MS), Crapo (ID), DeWine (OH), Domenici (NM), Frist (TN), Hagel (NE), Hatch (UT), Hutchinson, T (AR), Hutchison, K (TX), Johnson (SD), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Lugar (IN), Miller (GA), Nelson (FL), Santorum (PA), Sessions (AL), G. Smith (OR), Torricelli (NJ), Warner (VA)
Our Position: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports President Bush"s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives proposal and legislation to support faith-based and community organizations because we believe they will 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 dated February 26, 2002 and June 5, 2002.
For more information, contact Kathy Curran at 202-541-3188, firstname.lastname@example.org.