Senate guts faith-based initiative bill
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), sponsor of the Senate's Charity Aid, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act, says he has abandoned all hope of passing the bill with provisions making it easier for religious groups to get government grants.

But such provisions were the whole point of the original bill. As The Washington Post reports, "The new plan leaves virtually nothing of Bush's original [faith-based initiatives] plan." Santorum now says he's willing to sacrifice the turkey if it means keeping a few tax-incentive trimmings.

Actually, Santorum used a different food analogy—and it's not the "half a loaf is better than none" that J.C. Watts used last year. "I would have liked to have gotten the whole enchilada, but in the United States Senate this year, you're lucky to get anything, and I'll take anything," he told the Associated Press.

House Republicans have also agreed not to vote on expanding government grants to religious groups and will only consider a bill with tax breaks.

But the now rather pointless bill is still under fire from several senators who say it "specifically should bar groups from using federal funds to proselytize" and "should expressly prohibit groups from getting tax dollars from discriminating against beneficiaries or employees of other religions," reports the Associated Press.

In other words, an effort to assist groups that want to help the needy might actually hurt them. With a Republican-controlled Congress, such provisions are unlikely to be added. But if they are, it's not worth a few tax incentives.

Response to Santorum's announcement is informative. Americans United for Separation of Church and State cried victory. "It's a huge break in the battle over this," said ...

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