Weblog is a compilation of articles and commentary, and therefore doesn't involve any original reporting. Occasionally, however, we do allow the subjects of Weblog items to respond to our coverage. This week, Congressman J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) takes issue with our October 16 Weblog item, "Congress's Charitable Choice Expansion Is Dead."

October 25, 2002


I was very disappointed to read the article by Ted Olsen on the faith-based initiative, implying that I "caved" by agreeing to the Senate's version of the bill. Although the legislation I sponsored that passed the House of Representatives was far superior, the chances of the Senate following our lead were slim to none in these final few days of the 107th Congress.

Sure, some would throw their hands in the air and give up. But I don't think that's the right approach when some of our neighbors are in need of a helping hand. As I said when I announced my support for the Senate bill, half a loaf is better than going hungry.

If I thought the Senate bill, known as the CARE Act, was a sell-out, I would not have supported it. Instead, I see it as a step forward for the faith-based initiative backed by President Bush and a bi-partisan majority of the House. It does not roll back protections for religious organizations. It does not alter the freedoms people of faith were guaranteed in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It does give the president and faith-based communities additional tools to advance our work for the poor, the hungry, the addicted and the homeless.

I have confidence in my colleagues to keep fighting for an extension of charitable choice after I retire this year. In the meantime, there are many things the executive branch can do—and is doing—to promote the work and charity of faith-based organizations.

I still pray for the Senate to pass my bill this year. But I am also a realist. Advancing the ball to the fifty-yard line with the Senate's version of the faith-based initiative is a lot better than taking the ball and going home.


Rep. J.C. Watts, Jr. (R-Okla.)
Chairman, House Republican Conference