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CARE Act 2002 - Letter to Senator Baucus

 

 April 12, 2002

The Honorable Max Baucus
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Baucus:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA strongly support S. 1924, the Charity Aid, Recovery and Empowerment Act of 2002 (CARE Act).  We see this bill as an important step in implementing the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives proposal, which we also support, by targeting new public and private resources for the struggle to overcome poverty.  We are writing to urge that the Senate Finance Committee mark-up S. 1924 as soon as possible after the April recess.

As we are seeing throughout the country, the long-term economic impact of September 11, together with continuing effects of the recent economic downturn, have placed new and urgent demands on traditional faith-based and secular charities that serve the poor and vulnerable.  Reports from social service agencies indicate that donations are not keeping pace with need.  In this time of economic uncertainty, the partnership between the federal government and private charities is even more critical.  We believe three aspects of the CARE Act are particularly important, and urge the Committee to preserve these provisions as introduced 

  • allowing non-itemizers to claim charitable deductions on their taxes to spur additional private giving;
  • creating a Compassion Capital fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building for faith-based and community groups; and
  • providing additional funding for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program.
We support the legislation's affirmation of the complementary roles and responsibilities of religious groups, community organizations and government in in tackling our nation's social problems.  To address these problems will require mustering all of our resources, private and public, economic and organizational.  The legislation recognizes this reality in two ways.  First, it would allow non-itemizers to take a deduction for charitable contributions, acknowledging and rewarding the generosity of individuals who support the activities of the religious and secular charities that play a key role in providing social services.   But such groups cannot take the government's rightful place in assuring that the basic needs of all Americans are addressed, and so the legislation also includes additional resources for the SSBG program, which provides community groups and religious agencies with federal funds to assist working families, abused and abandoned children, persons with disabilities, and the frail elderly.

We look forward to working with you to pass the CARE Act to provide much-needed federal and private resources to charities serving Americans in need.

Sincerely,

Theodore E. Cardinal McCarrick
Archbishop of Washington
Chairman, Domestic Policy Committee
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Rev. J. Bryan Hehir
President
Catholic Charities USA


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