U.S. Senator Jim DeMint tells The Brody File that a newly discovered controversial provision in President Obama's stimulus plan is, “an attack on people of faith".
Senator DeMint's office is concerned about an item published by the conservative Culture and Media Institute. They report the following regarding the stimulus bill:
Both versions of the bill, the House version (H.R. 1) that passed on Jan. 28 by a 244-188 margin, without a single Republican vote, and the Senate version (S. 336), which will probably be voted on in the next few days – include language that would “prohibit” modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities:
used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or
in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission.
See the actual language in the bill here. The controversial portion is also below:
"Grants awarded under this section shall be for the purpose of modernizing, renovating, and repairing institution of higher education facilities that are primarily used for instruction and research"
"Funds may not be used for the "modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities--(i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or (ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission."
The Brody File contacted the Senator and he gave us the following response:
"Democrats are looking for every opportunity to purge faith and prayer from the public square. This will empower the ACLU with ambiguous laws that create liability for schools, universities, and student organizations. This is an attack on people of faith and I don't think Americans will stand for it." -Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina)
DeMint's spokesman Wesley Denton says, "This is an ACLU stimulus, because any school that gets funds to upgrade a student center or building where Bible studies or religious meetings may be held will be slapped with a lawsuit. This bill declares a war on prayer at college campuses in this country. Students have constitutional right to use public facilities regardless of their religious views, and President Obama needs to step in to ask Sen. Reid and Speaker Pelosi to stop this attack on students of faith.”
So will President Obama push to have this provision removed? They got rid of the birth control funding provision. Maybe this will be next to go. A lot will depend on whether or not Republican leaders in the Senate make this a big deal or not. They made a big deal about the birth control issue and look what happened.
Also, who's responsible for a provision like this? Who's actually writing this stuff into the bill? The Brody File will follow up.
The Obama administration has to be very careful that the stimulus bill doesn’t come across as a left wing hit parade. Language like this can take credibility away from Obama’s stated goal of creating or saving jobs. The overall bill may end up doing that but this is also about framing the debate. There can be a political victory and a public relations victory. Both are crucial.