CARE Act back in the Senate
A new version of the Charity Aid, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act, part of President Bush's faith-based initiative, will make it to the U.S. Senate floor for a vote as early as next week, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) tells The Washington Times.

Last year, the Democrat-controlled Senate did not vote on the bill as some members demanded that it also force faith-based groups receiving government funds to hire workers without considering their religion.

This year's bill isn't much different from the one Santorum and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) introduced last year. It doesn't expand charitable choice (that is, it doesn't allow more faith-based social service organizations to receive government funds). But it does offer several tax code changes that both Republicans and Democrats support. Among them, it proposes:

  • Letting taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions to deduct a portion of their charitable giving

  • Tax incentives for farmers and restaurants to donate extra food to the hungry, and similar incentives for donors of books and technology;

  • Government-matched savings accounts for low-income Americans who want to purchase a home, further their education, or start a small business; and

  • Deducting volunteers' mileage from their gross income.

The bill also offers $150 million each year for technical assistance to small community and faith-based charities, and allows a faith-based organization to receive funds even if it displays religious icons, has a religious name, uses religious language in its charter documents, or has religious qualifications for its governing board.

Even so, a congressional aide says the bill may not be strong enough for House Republicans, who passed a much broader faith-based ...

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