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Debate Over `Charitable Choice' Stalls Poverty Relief Bill.

A comprehensive anti-poverty bill that includes "charitable choice" aid for churches has stalled in the Senate after easy passage in the House.

The legislation, known as the "New Markets Initiative" (H.R. 4923), would provide billions of dollars for investment in poor communities nationwide. Enactment seemed likely after the White House and House Republicans struck a deal in May 10 allow federal funds for faith-based substance abuse treatment. The House approved the bill July 25 by a 394-27 vote.

However, the charitable choice provision became a sticking point in the Senate. During consideration of the measure, Sen. Charles Robb (D-Va.) suggested the language stood in the way of passage.

"Charitable choice is the big philosophical divide," Robb told the Associated Press. "On almost all the other pieces, we're in basic agreement [with the Republicans]."

The church aid component stalled the bill, at least temporarily. Supporters of the faith-based approach unsuccessfully attempted to attach the legislation as an amendment to a measure repealing the estate tax.

The proposal, however, is far from gone. Congressional observers expect the legislation, with the charitable choice provisions, to be reintroduced as a free-standing bill before the end of the year.
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Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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