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CARE Act 2003 - Letter to WH Chief of Staff

May 5, 2003

The Honorable Andrew H. Card, Jr.
Chief of Staff
The White House
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. Card:

I am writing regarding the Charity Aid Recovery and Empowerment Act (CARE Act), which the Senate recently passed on a strong bipartisan vote of 95-5.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, an early supporter of President Bush's Faith-based and Community Initiative, supported passage of both the Community Solutions Act (HR 7) in the House of Representatives last Congress and the CARE Act because we believe they can be powerful assets in the struggle to overcome the scandal of poverty in our nation.  We applaud the efforts of Senators Lieberman and Santorum as an important step in that struggle.

In all of our communications with Congress, we have consistently asserted that government must continue to provide support, including adequate funding, for the religious and community based charities that work hard everyday to help "the least among us." We strongly affirm the principle that the work of such groups can complement but never replace the government"s responsibility in assuring that the basic needs of all Americans are addressed.  That is why we are pleased that the CARE Act restores funding to the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG).  We were deeply disappointed to learn that the Administration has signaled its opposition to this aspect of the CARE Act. 

While it is unfortunate that the Title VIII "equal treatment" language was dropped from the bill, the CARE Act with its new public and private resources is still a crucial bill for faith-based organizations dedicated to fighting poverty and despair.

As the CARE Act moves to the House for consideration, we will be working hard to encourage House members to include the SSBG funds in their legislation.  We urge you to support these modest but important resources that will help states to assist community groups and religious agencies, including Catholic Charities, that serve working families, abused and abandoned children, persons with disabilities, and the frail elderly.  Thank you for taking a second look at this very important issue.

With every best wish, I am

Faithfully yours, 

Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
Archbishop of Washington
Chairman, Domestic Policy Committee 

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