Senate Tables Faith-Based Legislation

Republican senators have delayed the introduction of legislation that would make it possible for faith-based charities that provide social services to apply for federal funding, the New York Times reports.

"I feel that someday we'll move something forward," said Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. "But right now this is a hot-button issue."

Senator Joseph I. Leiberman (D-CT) recently stalled debate over the issue in the Senate by requesting that the Government Accounting Office research the possible outcomes faith-based programs may have.

"I've been waiting to see where the White House is going on this, but for now, they aren't directly confronting the most difficult Constitutional problems," Lieberman explained.

The Senate also decided to exclude President Bush's proposal to extend the charitable deduction to non-itemizers from the tax bill it passed earlier this week. According to Independent Sector, a D.C.-based coalition of nonprofits, foundations, and corporations working to strengthen citizen action and the philanthropic sector, extension of the charitable deduction to non-itemizers would create more than 11.7 million new givers, stimulate an additional $14.6 billion in charitable giving in the first year after its passage, and increase current giving levels by 11 percent.

Elizabeth Becker. "Senate Delays Legislation on Aid to Church Charities" New York Times 05/24/2001.