March 26th, 2009, Fairfax, VA— ALG President Bill Wilson today strongly urged members of the House of Representatives to vote against amendments adopted by the Senate today that “will allow radical front groups to steal $5.7 billion under the guise of President Obama’s national ‘service’ program.”
“The Senate has voted to gut taxpayer protections in the GIVE Act that would have prohibited lobbyists, political organizations, for-profits and labor groups from taking money under the program,” Wilson warned. “And now only the House can put a stop to it by voting to reject the Senate’s amendments.”
The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 79-19. This followed a close vote that would have put language back into the bill prohibiting the groups from participating in the program.
“The House version of the GIVE Act was amended overwhelmingly to explicitly prohibit these groups from receiving tax dollars under the program,” Wilson reminded House members in his statement.
“Now under the Senate version of the bill, the groups can receive the money, they just have to promise not to use it for the prohibited activities,” Wilson explained.
As ALG News previously reported, the House version of the bill, HR 1388, was amended in a motion to recommit by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC). It was her amendment that had inserted the prohibitions, now in danger of being completely removed. The legislation, with Foxx’s amendment included, passed the House 321-105.
Wilson warned that it will be easy for the groups prohibited under the House version to “get around toothless limits of the Senate version.”
“Because the money is fungible, or can be substituted by the organizations using accounting tricks, tax dollars will most certainly wind up being used for politics and lobbying,” Wilson explained.
“Even worse is it will be nearly impossible to enforce any prohibitions once the money starts moving. This was a bad deal for taxpayers,” Wilson said.
Wilson noted that there will not be any conference committee even though the House and Senate versions of the legislation are different.
“Because the Senate simply amended the House version of the bill, all the House now needs to do is vote to accept the Senate amendments,” said Wilson.
Wilson urged there to be a roll call on the bill. “Constituents in every single district across the nation have a right to know how their representatives vote on the Senate amendments.”
Wilson cautioned House members against overreaching. “If the House now votes to force American taxpayers to furnish money for speech with which they might not agree, we promise to remind their constituents often,” he concluded.