Biden’s $1.2 trillion plan bars religious schools from using infrastructure funds

President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation prohibits religious schools from accessing grants in order to repair or renovate their buildings and facilities.

The bill, part of Biden’s overall “Build Back Better” plan which is scheduled to be voted on in the House on Friday, also bars religious child care centers from accessing taxpayer-funded infrastructure grants.

Recipients “‘may not use the funds for modernization, renovation or repair of facilities that are primarily used for sectarian instruction or religious worship,” says the legislation.

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced the Child Welfare Inclusion Act in March to bar state and local governments from discriminating against religious and faith-based foster care and adoption centers. The bill sought to prevent those centers from having to choose between offering vital services to their communities or violating their deep religious beliefs. But the Democrat-controlled House Ways and Means Committee failed to advance it in September, the Daily Mail reported.

“The congressman was disappointed that Democrats wouldn’t grant such a simple request to help our children during previous negotiations,” Kelly spokesman Matt Knoedler told Fox News in a statement. “His Religious Freedom Amendment was an inclusive bill that would have given parents greater choice and allow them to pick a child care service that was best for them.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday would not say when the legislation would be scheduled for a vote, but one is expected to come on Friday after she worked through the night to round up support, earlier reports noted.

President Biden, meanwhile, has also reportedly been working the phones, calling individual Democratic members of Congress to urge them to vote for the infrastructure package as well as a larger $1.75 trillion social and climate spending package that is liable to have difficulty passing in its current form in the Senate, where portions of it are opposed by moderate Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Democrats have a slim 221-213 majority in the House and as such will need nearly all members to vote together in order to get the reconciliation bill passed, but it still faces an uncertain future in the Senate, even in a slimmed-down version, because Manchin and Sinema have consistently pushed back on the price tag.

The infrastructure bill has already passed the upper chamber, where it was negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators including Sinema.

In an interview with CNN in which he reflected on his party’s historic election losses on Tuesday — to include a near-loss of Democratic incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy in deep-blue New Jersey — Manchin admitted that the country is “center” or “center-right” and that Democrats have tried to push too far to the left.

“We just have to work together,” Manchin said. “We can’t go too far left. This is not a center-left or a left country. We are center if anything, [a] center-right country, that’s being shown. And we ought to be able to recognize that.”

“And all of my friends on the left, the progressives or liberals or whatever, I said, I’m not,” he added. “I always say that I’m a responsible West Virginia Democrat. I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate. I think most people in the middle feel that way.”

Jon Dougherty


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