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Improving the Community Services Block Grant Act of 2003

Location: Washington, DC

IMPROVING THE COMMUNITY SERVICES BLOCK GRANT ACT OF 2003 -- (House of Representatives - February 04, 2004)

Mrs. MYRICK. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 513 and ask for its immediate consideration.


Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of H.R. 3030 and in opposition to the amendments offered today.

H.R. 3030 would reauthorize the Community Services Block Grant program and restore the protections granted to religious organizations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This exemption explicitly allows faith-based organizations the freedom to consider religion when hiring staff, and any federal legislation governing federal training and social services funds should continue to protect these rights.

Faith-based providers cannot be expected to sustain their religious mission if they cannot employ individuals who share the tenets and practices of their faith. In many cases, it is that faith that motivates them to serve their community. Such practices have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Bowen v. Kendrick, even when the organization is receiving federal funds.

Let me clarify. Federal funds cannot be used for worship or for proselytizing. Nor can these organizations discriminate in who receives services. Any activity that used federal funds must not be discriminatory.

We have a long history of making social service legislation more inclusive by extending the Title VII exemptions in various federal programs. H.R. 3030 contains the same "faith-based" provisions as the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 and the Community Services Block Grant Act of 1998, both of which were signed into law by former President Clinton. The bill we are considering today would simply make the Community Services Block Grant consistent with the legislation governing other major social service programs. Furthermore, in May, the House approved almost identical language in reauthorizing the Workforce Reinvestment and Adult Education Act of 2003.

I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and let faith-based organizations continue the good work they are currently doing.

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