New Amendment Introduced To Strip Discriminatory Russell Provision From NDAA

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, the must-pass National Defense Administration Act (NDAA) contains a provision that would allow taxpayer-funded employment discrimination—under all federal grants and contracts, religiously affiliated organizations must be permitted to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion with grant or contract money. This means that a faith-based organization could take taxpayer money to perform a social service for the public—like running the local homeless shelter or working with at-risk youth—and then only hire people who belong to the organization’s denomination or profess the same beliefs. 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 belong to the “wrong religion.” This evening, we will find out if there’s a chance to strip this discriminatory provision from the NDAA.

Several key Republicans and Democrats, led by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), have offered an amendment to the NDAA to delete the entire bad provision. This afternoon, a House committee will decide whether the House of Representatives will consider this amendment, one of hundreds of that lawmakers have offered, when it debates the bill later this week.  We hope the committee members will see that it's irresponsible to spend the public's money on those who seek to discriminate.

Not only are lawmakers on both sides of the aisle trying to do something about this, but the President’s statement about whether he would veto the NDAA, included a section condemning the discriminatory provision:

The Administration strongly objects to [the Russell amendment], which would undermine important protections put in place by the President to ensure that Federal contractors and subcontractors do not engage in discriminatory employment practices. This Administration is committed to promoting equal employment opportunities for all Americans regardless of who they are or who they love while at the same time preserving longstanding safeguards in the law for religious liberty, including the religious exemption codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.