View Full Version : Lieberman may be Bush faith initiative's best hope

September 4th, 2001, 05:40 PM
09/03/2001 - Updated 07:59 PM ET

Lieberman may be Bush faith initiative's best hope

By Richard Benedetto, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON The fate of President Bush's faith-based initiative lies in the hands of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the vice presidential candidate on the ticket Bush defeated last year.

Lieberman, a devout Jew, campaigned last year in support of providing government aid to religious groups aiding the poor and needy. He says he is "committed" to fashioning a bipartisan compromise that can pass the Senate.

The controversial proposal to allow faith-based community groups to compete for $8 billion in federal social service funds was passed by the Republican-run House in July, but it has virtually no support among Democrats who control the Senate. And it still faces opposition from liberal church-state separatists and some conservative Christians, who fear government interference in their programs.

"It won't be easy, but I do think we can come together and find common ground," Lieberman says. "I believe in this, and I'm going to work hard on it."

But Lieberman and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., say a final bill probably will not be taken up this year, as Bush wants. Daschle says a battle over the federal budget will take up a large chunk of time this autumn. Lieberman says he needs more time to craft a bill that will please all sides.

Later this month, Lieberman plans to begin working out a bill with White House officials and Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the Senate's leading GOP advocate for the faith-based initiative.

They will start by returning to the exact language of the 1996 "charitable choice" provision of the welfare reform law that allowed faith-based groups to run government-funded welfare programs.

The administration bill that passed the House in July with mostly Republican votes included language that critics said would let religious groups circumvent local laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The 1996 measure, which enjoyed broad bipartisan support and was signed by President Clinton, allowed religious groups to limit employment to those of their own faith. It said nothing about circumventing laws on discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

"If we want to prod people along, we have to go back to the language of the past," Santorum says.

But even with that change, many Democrats looking ahead to next year's crucial congressional elections might be reluctant to give Bush a victory on a measure that he has been so closely identified with. Lieberman recognizes that partisan opposition could be a big obstacle, but he hopes it can be overcome as Democrats' concerns are addressed.

"If we agree on a role for faith-based groups in carrying out government social service programs, we ought not hesitate just because President Bush supports it," he says.

Nonetheless, the road for Bush is mostly uphill. John DiIulio of Philadelphia, who heads the Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives, is returning to academia, battered by the partisan clashes that have marked the effort so far. His departure leaves the administration scrambling to find a replacement and avoid the appearance of disarray.

DiIulio, a Democrat, insists he isn't going away mad. "I'm a big, fat guy who hasn't taken care of himself," says DiIulio, who weighs about 300 pounds. "More than a few of my vital signs are telling me I have to get more vital. And commuting to Philadelphia is not exactly what the doctor ordered."

But DiIulio says he will continue to work with Lieberman and Santorum, even after he officially leaves around the end of the month.

Knowing the political obstacles, he remains optimistic.

"We have great leadership in President Bush and Sen. Lieberman," he says. "Their hearts are pretty much as one."

Earth Walker
September 4th, 2001, 05:50 PM
Let's hope Dubya's initiative is defeated again!!!!

Notice to all freedom lovin' folk....let's speak up and tell
Dubya NO! :G

September 4th, 2001, 06:11 PM
Well - in case you didn't notice - this type of legislation already exists -- signed into law by Clinton. So, it's not a Bush vs everyone else thing. Eh?

Another point - Bush's initiative can't be "defeated again" because it hasn't been defeated a first time.

Earth Walker
September 4th, 2001, 06:32 PM
The Bush "Faith-Based Initiative": Why It's Wrong



Biblical America Resistance Front


September 4th, 2001, 06:48 PM
Gore and Lieberman would not have been much better than Bush and Cheney. Lieberman is a religious nut just like the republicans, just with a different religion. He's also big on tossing around the "family values" buzzword as well, and if it were up to him he'd have all of hollywood shut down by the FBI, and censor half the music being sold at Sam Goody. Between him and Tipper Gore, a massive campaign against free speech would have been wrought upon the world... I'm not thrilled that Bush won, but consider his behavior - he has been making many compromises with the left, because he KNOWS he has less than 50% of the popular mandate behind him.... this I think, is better than Gore being elected, and implementing a bunch of censorship-type studies and funding.

- Illuminatus!

Earth Walker
September 4th, 2001, 07:03 PM
Here are a few more links concerning Dubya's initiative:

Bush "Faith-Initiative" Will Promote Opposition To Choice

ACLU worried about Bush's faith-based initiative