Bush Pushes Faith-Based Initiative Without New Authority

The absence of new legislative authority has not deterred the Bush administration from using its executive powers to widely implement its Faith-Based Initiative throughout the federal government. That is the finding of a new report by the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy documents.

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AmeriCorps Programs Violate Separation of Church and State

On July 6, a federal court judge ruled that AmeriCorps must stop funding programs that place volunteers in Catholic schools.

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Politics-and-Religion Issue Surfaces in Congress, Campaign

The House Ways and Means Committee rejected a provision inserted into the jobs bill by House Republican leadership on June 14. It would have allowed religious organizations to violate the ban on partisan election activity without losing their tax-exempt status and was introduced shortly after the Bush campaign was criticized for e-mailing messages to supporters seeking help with re-election campaigns by recruiting "friendly congregations." Those messages were sent the same day the President announced expansion of his faith-based initiative, including $1.1 billion in grant funds. As a result of press attention to the pending legislation, the IRS took the unprecedented step of sending a letter to all political parties reminding them that current law prohibits partisan activity by charities, including religious organizations.

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Church Electioneering Provision Added to Jobs Bill

The House Ways and Means Committee will vote Monday June 14 on a bill that would give religious organizations a huge margin of error when they "unintentionally" engage in illegal partisan election activity. Section 692 of the bill, American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (HR 4520), reduces penalties for "unintentional violations" of the IRS ban on partisan activity by religious groups. Religious groups with no more than three violations in one calendar year will be shielded from revocation of their tax-exempt status and instead be charged minor fines.

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OMB Updates Guidance for Federal Grantees

As part of its effort to streamline the federal grants process, the Office of Management and Budget has published updated versions of its grants circulars that make definitions of key terms consistent for all types of grantees. The new Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations will centralize all policy guidance and rules for grants and cooperative agreements.

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Welfare Re-Authorization Fails in the Senate

The Senate failed to pass the reauthorization of the 1996 Welfare Reform bill last week. Regardless of the bill’s noted importance, members of the Senate could not agree on many issues within the bill.

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IRS Seeks comments on Form 8453 for Exempt Organizations

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is soliciting comments from the public concerning Form 8453-EO, Exempt Organization Declaration and Signature for Electronic Filing.

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Faith-based Roundup

From federal suits to administrative action, Bush’s faith-based initiative remains in the public spotlight.

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"How Does E-Grants Streamlining Affect Me as a Grantee?" Survey and Results

In April 2004, OMB Watch conducted an online survey to ask federal grantees specific questions related the effects of grants streamlining on their ability to find and apply for grant opportunities.

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File Your Form 990 Electronically

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announces online filing for Form 990.

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