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 Home > News & Policies > April 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 11, 2002

Fact Sheet: President Calls for Action by Memorial Day to Help America's Charities
President Calls for Action by Memorial Day to Help America's Charities

Today's Presidential Action

  • President Bush called on the Senate to pass the CARE Act - bipartisan legislation that reflects key parts of his Armies of Compassion agenda to strengthen America's charitable groups - and for Congress to send him a final bill to sign by Memorial Day. The President was joined by representatives from local and national charitable and faith-based groups - many of which are struggling to cope with recent declines in giving and increases in demand for the services they provide.

  • As millions of Americans prepare to file their tax returns, the President noted that the legislation will help an estimated 84 million taxpayers to receive a deduction for charitable giving - providing billions of dollars of support for charitable groups in America.

    Background On The President's Armies Of Compassion Agenda

  • Last year, the President announced his initiative to strengthen faith- and community-based charitable organizations in America. Legislation reflecting key elements of the President's initiative -- H.R. 7, the Community Solutions Act, sponsored by Congressmen J.C. Watts (R-OK) and Tony Hall (D-OH) -- passed the House in July by a vote of 233-189.

  • In August, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives released the Unlevel Playing Field report. The report was the first comprehensive audit of five Federal agencies and their policies towards community and faith based organizations. The report showed the barriers these groups face in the Federal funding process, such as unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles and discriminatory practices at the agency level.

  • The CARE Act (Charity Aid, Recovery, and Empowerment) builds on the good work of the House bill in meeting the key principles of the Armies of Compassion initiative. And, the legislation also includes provisions that help address the specific barriers identified in the Unlevel Playing Field report.

  • The Senate legislation meets the President's Armies of Compassion principles in three key ways:

    (1) Encouraging charitable giving through tax incentives:

    • Allows an estimated 84 million taxpayers who do not itemize to deduct their charitable contributions - providing a $400 (individual)/$800 (joint filers) deduction for charitable giving;
    • Allows individuals to make tax-free distributions from their IRAs to charities after the age of 67; and
    • Provides enhanced deductions for farmers and restaurants to donate food to food banks.

    (2) Addressing principal barriers that faith- and community-based charities face in accessing Federal funds that were identified in the Administration's Unlevel Playing Field report:

    • Requires non-discrimination against non-governmental organizations based on religious grounds, religious iconography, governance, and lack of experience with government contracts;
    • Creates a 501(c)3 'EZ Pass' process to help small, community-based groups get tax-deductible status more easily; and
    • Establishes a $150 million Compassion Capital Fund to educate and empower community-based organizations.

    (3) Providing needed support for initiatives targeted to vulnerable populations:

    • Authorizes up to $33 million in support for maternity group homes, principally for teenage unwed mothers.
    • Authorizes an additional $275 million in FY03 for the Social Service Block Grant (SSBG) that supports efforts such as Meals on Wheels.