Tomorrow, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America will join Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and other leaders of the non-profit, charitable sector to call upon the Senate to allow a joint House-Senate Conference Committee to convene so that the bipartisan Charity Assistance Recovery & Empowerment [“CARE”] Act might make its final moves toward becoming law.
The CARE Act, part of President Bush’s “faith based initiative,” is designed to bring new resources to America’s charitable organizations by offering new tax incentives for charitable contributions. It will do so by allowing the millions of taxpayers who do not utilize itemized deductions to receive a deduction for charitable contributions; it will make it easier and less costly for people to donate IRA funds to charity; and it will encourage in-kind contributions to charity as well. Moreover, under the Senate version of the bill, the CARE Act will significantly boost the budget of the Social Service Block Grant fund, the source for most social welfare grants awarded to community-based organizations.
While the House and Senate have each passed different versions of the legislation by overwhelming votes, it appears that some Senate Democrats are objecting to convening a conference committee that would resolve these differences and allow the bill to be sent in final form to the President for signature.
Last week, the UOJCA wrote to Senate Majority Leader Frist and Minority Leader Daschle appealing to them to ensure such a committee could convene to finalize the bill. Tomorrow, UOJCA public policy director Nathan Diament will join the CARE Act’s prime sponsor – Senator Santorum – and a Capitol Hill event to express this request again. In advance of that event, Diament stated:
It is deeply disturbing that at the very time Americans in need, and the charities who serve them, require greater support some Senators seem determined to blockade that support from being delivered. Today’s newspapers report upon a survey by The Chronicle of Philanthropy documenting a drop in charitable giving for the first time in five years. The CARE Act will work to turn this trend around and spur new donations to the myriad of charities that do good works in this nation. After many months of negotiations and revisions to this legislation, it is shameful that in an hour of need any Senator would deliberately block this initiative. We appeal to the many senators who support the CARE Act to prevail on their colleagues and allow it to move forward.