This afternoon, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, through its Institute for Public Affairs, applauded the Senate Finance Committee’s vote to favorably report the Charity Assistance Recovery & Empowerment [“CARE”] Act to the entire United States Senate. (The Committee voted to do so by a vote of 9 to 1 with one senator abstaining.) The bipartisan CARE Act – sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman, Rick Santorum and more than twenty other senators — is a significant element of President Bush’s “faith-based initiative” – an initiative designed to use a variety of federal laws & policies to increase the resources and roles of America’s charitable organizations in the good works they do. The Union has been a leading supporter of the initiative since its inception.
As originally introduced, the CARE Act primarily addresses the “resources” element of this initiative through tax and spending provisions. It will spur new individual contributions to charities by providing a tax deduction of up to $800 per family to the millions of Americans who do not take itemized deductions on their taxes. It will allow people to rollover their Individual Retirement Account assets directly to charities without paying a tax penalty. It will provide increased incentives for donations to foodbanks, reduce the federal excise tax on charitable foundations and raises the cap on how much a corporation can contribute to charity. The CARE Act will help the working poor begin to build personal savings accounts through tax credits for matching contributions by banks. Finally, the CARE Act would increase the budget of the federal Social Service Block Grant program, the primary source of federal grants to social welfare charities, by more than one billion dollars over the next two years. The bill reported out by the Finance Committee contains substantially all of these provisions.
In the wake of the Committee’s vote, Nathan Diament, director of the Union’s public policy Institute, issued the following statement:
The Orthodox Jewish community applauds today’s action by the Senate Finance Committee, with special appreciation to its leaders Senators Baucus and Grassley, for moving us a major step closer toward getting America’s charities the help they need and deserve. We urge the Senate to waste no time in bringing this important measure to the floor for a vote. We will work with Senate leaders and the White House to ensure the bill is passed swiftly and in a form that will accomplish the goals championed by President Bush which we strongly support.