HR 4909/S 2943


National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017

During the House Armed Services Committee mark-up of the FY2017 NDAA, Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) successfully offered a sweeping amendment that would sanction taxpayer-funded hiring discrimination. In short, it would require that the grants and contracts issued by every single federal agency permit religiously affiliated organizations to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion.

Under the Russell amendment, a faith-based organization could take taxpayer money to perform a social service for the public—like run the local homeless shelter or work with at-risk youth—and then only hire people who belong to the organization’s denomination or profess the same beliefs to work there. Religious hospitals and schools that get government grants or contracts could do the same. The result: government-funded jobs will be denied to qualified candidates because they are of the “wrong" religion.

Bill Status: Russell Amendment Stripped from Bill in Conference Committee on November 30, 2016; Conference Report adopted by Congress on December 8, 2016

Read the text of the Russell Amendment to the NDAA.