Mr. HENSARLING. Mr. Speaker, for almost a decade, Americans suffered under Obamanomics. Their savings remain decimated, their paychecks were stagnant, and their American dreams were diminished. But, Mr. Speaker, a new day has dawned. Under the leadership of President Trump, Speaker Ryan, and Chairman Brady, we are on the precipice of passing a fairer, flatter, simpler, and more competitive Tax Code, one built for 3-plus percent economic growth. The American people can now imagine a Tax Code that brings jobs and capital back to America. They can imagine a Tax Code that is simplified from 70,000 pages to 500, where 90 percent of Americans can fill out their return on a postcard. They can imagine a Tax Code swept of all the special interest loopholes. They can imagine a Tax Code creating lower rates for working Americans and small businesses, and they can now imagine a Tax Code that is all about economic growth. All my friends on the other side of the aisle can offer is the politics of division, envy, and class warfare.I am proud to support the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act because it is all about better jobs, fair taxes, and bigger paychecks.
Mr. NEAL. Mr. Speaker, 17,000 people in Mr. Hensarling’s district will now pay higher interest on their student loan deductions.Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Kind), who is a great advocate for the heartland of America.
Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, of all the policy changes that are being recommended in this legislation before us today, the one that scares me the most is the repeal of the so-called Johnson amendment. The Johnson amendment basically says: If you are a religious organization or a nonprofit and if you engage in partisan political activity, you lose your tax-exempt status. Repealing that has the potential of politicizing the pulpit nationwide. In fact, 103 religious organizations, 4,200 faith-based leaders in this country, and 5,500 nonprofits have written a letter to every Member of Congress telling us: Don’t do this. Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record these letters.
Updated November 1, 2017.
Hon. Paul Ryan, Speaker, Washington, DC.
Hon. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, Washington, DC.
Hon. Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader, Washington, DC.
Hon. Chuck Schumer, Senate Democratic Leader, Washington, DC.
Hon. Kevin Brady, Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee, Washington,DC.
Hon. Orrin Hatch, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Washington, DC.
Hon. Richard Neal,Ranking Member, House Ways and Means Committee, Washington, DC.
Hon. Ron Wyden,Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Finance, Washington, DC.
Dear Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Chairman Brady, Chairman Hatch, Ranking Member Neal, and Ranking Member Wyden:
We, the 103 undersigned religious and denominational organizations strongly oppose any effort to weaken or eliminate protections that prohibit 501(c)(3) organizations, including houses of worship, from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Current law serves as a valuable safeguard for the integrity of our charitable sector and campaign finance system.
Religious leaders often use their pulpits to address the moral and political issues of the day. They also can, in their personal capacities and without the resources of their houses of worship, endorse and oppose political candidates. Houses of worship can engage in public debate on any issue, host candidate forums, engage in voter registration drives, encourage people to vote, help transport people to the polls and even, with a few boundaries, lobby on specific legislation and invite candidates to speak. Tax-exempt houses of worship may not, however, endorse or oppose candidates or use their tax-exempt donations to contribute to candidates’ campaigns. Current law simply limits groups from being both a tax-exempt ministry and a partisan political entity.
As religious organizations, we oppose any attempt to weaken the current protections offered by the 501(c)(3) campaign intervention prohibition because:
People of faith do not want partisan political fights infiltrating their houses of worship. Houses of worship are spaces for members of religious communities to come together, not be divided along political lines; faith ought to be a source of connection and community, not division and discord. Indeed, the vast majority of Americans do not want houses of worship to issue political endorsements. Particularly in today’s political climate, such endorsements would be highly divisive and would have a detrimental impact on civil discourse.
Current law protects the integrity of houses of worship. If houses of worship endorse candidates, their prophetic voice, their ability to speak truth to power as political outsiders, is threatened. The credibility and integrity of congregations would suffer with bad decisions of candidates they endorsed. Tying America’s houses of worship to partisan activity demeans the institutions from which so many believers expect unimpeachable decency.
Current law protects the independence of houses of worship. Houses of worship often speak out on issues of justice and morality and do good works within the community but may also labor to adequately fund their ministries. Permitting electioneering in churches would give partisan groups incentive to use congregations as a conduit for political activity and expenditures. Changing the law would also make them vulnerable to individuals and corporations who could offer large donations or a politician promising social service contracts in exchange for taking a position on a candidate.
Even proposals that would permit an “insubstantial” standard or allow limited electioneering only if it is in furtherance of an organization’s mission would actually invite increased government intrusion, scrutiny, and oversight. The charitable sector, particularly houses of worship, should not become another cog in a political machine or another loophole in campaign finance laws. We strongly urge you to oppose any efforts to repeal or weaken protections in the law for 501(c) (3) organizations, including houses of worship.
African American Ministers in Action; African Methodist Episcopal Church–Social Action Commission; Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; Alliance of Baptists; American Baptist Churches USA; American Baptist Home Mission Societies; American Friends Service Committee; American Jewish Committee (AJC); Anti-Defamation League; Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists; B’nai B’rith International; Baptist Center for Ethics; Baptist Fellowship Northeast; Baptist General Association of Virginia; Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty; Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America–Bautistas por la Paz; Baptist Women in Ministry; Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice; California Council of Churches IMPACT; Catholics for Choice; Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; Central Conference of American Rabbis; Christian Life Commission; Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church; Churchnet, a Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri; Colorado Council of Churches; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Heartland; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Kentucky; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Mississippi; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Texas; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship West; Disciples Center for Public Witness;Ecumenical Catholic Communion; Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon; The Episcopal Church; Equal Partners in Faith; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches; Faith Action Network–Washington State; Faith in Public Life; Faith Voices Arkansas; Faithful America; Florida Council of Churches; Franciscan Action Network; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.; Hindu American Foundation; Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas; Interfaith Alliance; International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON); Islamic Networks Group; Islamic Society of North America.; Jewish Community Relations Council, Greater Boston; Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington; Jewish Council for Public Affairs; The Jewish Federations of North America; Jewish Women International; Kentucky Council of Churches; Mid-Atlantic Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; National Baptist Convention of America; National Council of Churches; National Council of Jewish Women; National Sikh Campaign; NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; New Baptist Covenant; North Carolina Council of Churches; Oklahoma Conference of Churches; Pastors for Oklahoma Kids; Pastors for Texas Children; Pax Christi, Montgomery County, MD chapters; Pennsylvania Council of Churches; Presbyterian Church USA, Washington Office of Public Witness; Progressive National Baptist Convention; Reconstructionist Rabbinical Assembly; Religions for Peace USA; Religious Institute; Rhode Island State Council of Churches; Seventh-Day Adventist Church in North America; South Carolina Christian Action Council; South Dakota Faith in Public Life; T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; Texas Baptists Committed; Texas Faith Network; Texas Impact; Union for Reform Judaism; Unitarian Universalist Association; Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice; United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society; Virginia Council of Churches; Women of Reform Judaism; Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER).
August 16, 2017.
Representative Ron Kind, Washington, DC.
Dear Representative Kind:
As a leader in my religious community, I am strongly opposed to any effort to repeal or weaken current law that protects houses of worship from becoming centers of partisan politics. Changing the law would threaten the integrity and independence of houses of worship. We must not allow our sacred spaces to be transformed into spaces used to endorse or oppose political candidates. Faith leaders are called to speak truth to power, and we cannot do so if we are merely cogs in partisan political machines.
The prophetic role of faith communities necessitates that we retain our independent voice. Current law respects this independence and strikes the right balance: houses of worship that enjoy favored tax-exempt status may engage in advocacy to address moral and political issues, but they cannot tell people who to vote for or against. Nothing in current law, however, prohibits me from endorsing or opposing political candidates in my own personal capacity.
Changing the law to repeal or weaken the “Johnson Amendment”–the section of the tax code that prevents tax-exempt nonprofit organizations from endorsing or opposing candidates–would harm houses of worship, which are not identified or divided by partisan lines. Particularly in today’s political climate, engaging in partisan politics and issuing endorsements would be highly divisive and have a detrimental impact on congregational unity and civil discourse. I therefore urge you to oppose any repeal or weakening of the Johnson Amendment, thereby protecting the independence and integrity of houses of worship and other religious organizations in the charitable sector.
Wisconsin-Rabbi Jessica Barolsky, Rabbi, Reform Judaism, Milwaukee, WI. Pastor Kara Baylor, Director of the Center for Faith and Spirituality, Carthage College, Kenosha, WI.Rev. RaeAnn Beebe, Pastor, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Oshkosh, WI. Rabbi Marc Berkson, Rabbi, Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun, Milwaukee, WI. Ms. Andrea Bernstein, Section President, National Council of Jewish Women–Milwaukee Section, Milwaukee, WI.Rabbi Jonathan Biatch, Rabbi, Temple Beth El, Madison, Madison, WI. Rev. Mary Anne Biggs, Pastor, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Eagle River, WI.Coral Bishop, Treasurer, First Baptist Church, Madison, WI.Sr. Barbara Brylka, Pastoral Care Services, Felician Sisters–Villa St. Francis, Milwaukee, WI.Sr. Rebecca Burke, Sister, Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis, WI.Rabbi David Cohen, Rabbi, Congregation Sinai, Milwaukee, WI. Rev. Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, Madison, WI. Rev. Michael Crosby, CR Agent, Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, Milwaukee, WI. Sr. Frances Cunningham, Senior Sister, School Sisters of St. Francis, Roman Catholic, Shorewood, WI.Rev. Glenn Danz, Pastor, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Colgate, WI.Mr. Steven C. Davis, Certified Lay Speaker/Leader, United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay, Glendale, WI. Dr. Beverly Davison, Lay Leader, Former President, American Baptist Churches (U.S.A.), Madison, WI.Rev. Dr. James Davison, First Baptist Church, Madison, WI.
(Congressional Record – Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Part 1)
(Congressional Record – Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Part 2)
(Congressional Record – Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Part 3)
(Congressional Record – Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Part 4)
(Congressional Record – Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Part 5)
(Congressional Record – Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Part 6)
(Congressional Record – Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Part 7)