Lead GOP Senate Sponsor Joins President Bush, GOP House Leadership, Foley and Kolbe in Agreement to Clarify Faith-Based Bill

Santorum Seals GOP Deal Publicly on Civil Rights Issues

August 2, 2001 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The lead Republican Senate proponent of the President's faith-based initiatives bill joined leading Republican moderates in the House of Representatives, the GOP House leadership and President Bush in publicly supporting clarification of language in the Community Solutions Act of 2001 (HR 7) to end any questions over its effect on local and state civil rights laws.

Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) confirmed publicly yesterday that he will join in supporting changes to HR 7 that will settle the civil rights matter and return focus of the debate to the merits of the overall bill, which has broad support of moderate Republicans in the House.

In late June, as reported in The Hill newspaper, the White House insisted on changes to the original version of HR 7 that would drop what it viewed as discriminatory language on civil rights, changing it to bring the bill's civil rights elements more in line with charitable choice legislation supported by President Bill Clinton. However, moderate Republicans in the House raised questions that the language in HR 7 incorporated from previous legislation was still not clear enough on whether local and state civil rights laws would be unaffected.

In July, Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), a founding member of the Log Cabin Republicans National Advisory Board, joined Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) in seeking agreement with chief House sponsor, Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) and the White House, to resolve any outstanding questions about how the bill would impact local and state civil rights laws. Foley and Kolbe led an effort by moderate Republicans in the House on the issue in the days prior to the House vote on passage, which resulted in a public pledge during a July 19 colloquy on the House floor between Watts and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), a leading Log Cabin Republicans supporter working with Foley and Kolbe, that the matter would be addressed before HR 7 goes to final passage.

Kolbe, a co-sponsor and strong supporter of the overall bill, joined an overwhelming majority of moderate Republicans who refused to support partisan Democratic efforts in the House to use the civil rights issue to kill the entire bill. Long before the debate over the civil rights issue, the Democratic House leadership vowed to do all it could to stop HR 7 from advancing to the Senate.

On July 26, President Bush told reporters that he, too, agreed to support clarifications in HR 7 which would settle moderate GOP questions on the civil rights issue. While vowing to press on to pass one of his top priorities, the President added that "we should never undermine the civil rights laws of the United States."

"We applaud Senator Santorum for joining this broad public agreement between the President, the House leaders and moderate House Republicans to settle the questions over civil rights issues by working together," said Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "Congressman Foley and Congressman Kolbe took the most appropriate course of action, got the right results, and the Republican leaders on this issue in both the House and Senate will work together to send a solid bill to the President's desk. Once again, Republicans raised an issue, Republicans responded, and we saw clear results. It is an example of the increasing influence of Congressman Kolbe, Congressman Foley and the moderates in the House."

"All of the key players on this issue are in agreement that local civil rights laws should be in force," Tafel said. "It is yet another opportunity where partisan Democrats appeared desperate to create a wedge with our issues, but failed. It also speaks to the growing strength of key Republican allies, such as Congressman Kolbe, Congressman Foley and Congressman Kirk who, along with their GOP colleagues, ensured the concerns of the gay community were addressed."

Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest gay and lesbian Republican organization, with state and local chapters nationwide, a full-time national office and a federal political action committee.