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Public Statements

Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PITTS. Madam Speaker, I'm pleased to speak on behalf of my friend Mr. Smith's sensible legislation to help rebuild communities destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

Federal assistance is intended to make communities whole; and if we leave behind ruined houses of worship, we're taking the soul out of those places. Churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship are an essential piece of any community. They provide shelter in storms, assistance to the needy, and support for families. And they provide essential services and support to people of all faiths.

In previous disasters, including Katrina, the Seattle earthquake and the Oklahoma City bombing, the Federal Government has extended assistance to places of worship. Areas affected by Sandy should be no different.

I'm a strong supporter of the First Amendment, and I believe that this assistance is completely compatible with our Constitution. Assistance will be distributed without prejudice against any particular religion. Government cannot endorse religion, but that does not mean we should discriminate against those of faith during a time of disaster. Recovery cannot be considered successful if sacred places of our community are left empty.


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