"Faith-Based Initiative's Real Battleground Is Local Governments, Not Senate"

"Democrats warm to legislation, but questions are raised about how much religious organizations—federally funded or not—should be regulated."
When the House passed H.R. 7, the bill allowing religious organizations to compete for federal social service funds, many journalists and pundits predicted the legislation would have a rough go of it in the Senate (and rightly so, said several newspaper editorials). But it appears that the obituaries were premature. Bush's faith-based initiative is actually "gaining traction among key Democratic senators," reports Cox News Service. The first key Democrat is Georgia's Zell Miller, who sent a letter to his fellow party members Thursday to fellow Democrats urging them to support legislation. "We cannot equivocate," he wrote. "We cannot abdicate this heretofore-Democratic mandate. We do so at our own peril." (Miller has been a recent ally of Bush, siding with Republicans on the recent tax cut and other measures.) According to Cox, Miller's letter quoted extensively from a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by Andrew Young, a former Democratic congressman, mayor of Atlanta and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who now runs a nonprofit organization. "We all know that Al Gore endorsed charitable choice … during the presidential campaign," Young wrote.
In addition, the House has voted eight times on charitable choice provisions that would allow faith-based organizations to apply for various government grants. Fifty-two Democratic members voted for at least six of the eight provisions, and 20 voted for all eight. In fact, charitable choice was passed in 1996 under a Democratic administration with bipartisan support. Then, there were none of the alarmist reactions from various quarters that have accompanied the introduction of this year's legislation. … Are such reactions based on the fact that this year's bill was introduced by ...
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July/August
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