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  • Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2013

    by Representative Sander M. Levin

    Posted on 2013-02-13

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    LEVIN. Madam Speaker, in the wake of the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, Congress must be an active partner in the effort to rebuild, so I will vote in favor of the bill before the House today, which extends FEMA disaster relief assistance to houses of worship on an equal footing with other not-for-profit organizations affected by the storm.

    I wish, however, that the House had taken the time to hold hearings on this legislation before bringing it to the House Floor so that we could have more fully explored the constitutional issues involved with this matter. Clearly, the federal government can and does provide federal resources to houses of worship for a variety of purposes, including homeland security grants and small business loans, but we must tread carefully in this area to ensure that the assistance extended passes muster with the basic provisions of the Constitution. It would have been better to thoroughly vet the language of this bill, among ourselves in the House and with constitutional scholars before bringing it up for a vote. As this legislation must pass the Senate in order to become law, I hope there will be in their proceedings a careful review of these issues before they act, including making any needed changes, which would bring the bill back to the House for final enactment.

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