JOB TRAINING IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - March 02, 2005)
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Mr. JINDAL. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the offered amendment. It seems to me in our country right now we have an all-out assault on faith-based groups. Just this week, a court in my home State of Louisiana ruled that school boards were prohibited from having voluntary school board member-led prayers to begin their meetings. Now, this very Chamber, the Supreme Court, and many government entities begin their proceedings with a prayer; and along that line I see nothing wrong with us inviting faith-based groups to be partners with the government in training tomorrow's workforce.
To me, this debate should be about one and only one thing, and that is how do we provide the most effective training for our future workers? Nobody here is arguing that we should have an unlevel playing field. Nobody here is arguing for favoritism for faith-based groups. Rather, we are simply saying, let us level the playing field. Let us invite those who are motivated by faith to help us to train displaced workers, to train tomorrow's workforce.
In my home State of Louisiana, faith-based groups have done a wonderful thing. They have provided health care to those who needed it; they have provided education, housing and shelter to those whose needed it the most.
What is next? If you extend the logic of this amendment, what might be next might be those Catholic hospitals not being able to accept Medicare patients. What might be next might be the Baptist hospitals not being allowed to participate in our State's Medicaid program.
We are not asking for special treatment. All we are saying is let us build on a bipartisan precedent, a precedent set in the Civil Rights Act, a precedent reaffirmed under President Clinton under four different bills. Let us build on that bipartisan precedent of opening the doors and allowing faith-based groups to participate as equal partners.
People of faith pay taxes as well in this country. We are not arguing for special treatment; we are just arguing for a level playing field.
Four different times this Congress saw fit to open those doors to faith-based groups. Four different times President Clinton signed into law four different measures designed to protect the interests and rights of faith-based groups.
Today this bill that we are going to approve later on the floor today simply takes another step forward. It simply says to the faith-based community, we will not discriminate against you. We will not require you to give up your employment rights guaranteed or granted to you by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
To quote Members from the other side, Senator Kerry and Senator Clinton, those that have stood before for freedom and plurality, they themselves say, Senator Clinton in her own words says, ``There is no contradiction between support for faith-based initiatives and upholding our constitutional principles.'' Senator Kerry says, ``I know there are some that say that the first amendment means faith-based organizations can't help government. I've never accepted that. I think they are wrong.''
In this instance, I find myself in agreement with both Senator Kerry and Senator Clinton. The first amendment is not designed to protect government, not designed to protect us from faith; it is rather designed to separate church and State. It is, rather, designed to protect faith from government, not the other way around.
So I think we need to stop closing the door to people of faith. We need to stop discriminating against those groups that are motivated by their religious beliefs to help the weakest in society. I rise in opposition to this amendment.
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