Editorials in various newspapers today condemned the bill for those same reasons, but the Family Research Council had reacted angrily to the proposed changes. The organization claimed the bill was "in danger of being hijacked by homosexual groups," and threatened to withdraw its support for the bill if the protections were dropped.
But despite Congress's holding the line on this latest set of proposed changes (the most important vote on the matter was defeated by a 234-195 vote), the bill isn't quite the same as initially proposed. For example, plans to allow taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions to deduct charitable contributions was cut back substantially. Such taxpayers will initially only be allowed to deduct $25, rising to $100 in 10 years (that works out to be $77 billion change from Bush's initial proposal).
A Salon.com article today calls the one day delay "a major embarrassment for the White House" and reiterates the Web site's earlier claims that the White House is quietly backing the Senate version of the bill. Hogwash on both counts. The bill succeeded without dangerous amendments that would have stripped rights already granted to religious organizations by the 1964 Civil Rights Act; that's a victory. A one day's delay of that vote is no defeat.
And don't expect the White House to turn its back on the House bill now that it's passed. If anything, White House official John DiIulio and others will be pushing hard in the Democrat-controlled Senate for every inch they can get.
But even that vote may not be the faith-based initiative's biggest battle. Apparently the Republican House leadership was able to garner some support from its liberal wing by promising to address hiring concerns when differences between House and Senate bills are ironed out. Is that a promise to delete the language protecting religious organizations from local hiring mandates? Time will tell.
Expect more on the vote—both news reports and opinion pieces—tomorrow.
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