Press Briefing from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

A telephone conference call between reporters and Jim Towey, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives on February 7, 2005.

MR. DUFFY: Good afternoon, everyone, thanks for participating. This afternoon we have an on the record conference call -- that's right, on the record -- with Jim Towey, who's an assistant to the President and the Director of the Office of Faith-based and Community Issues, on the compassion related items in the federal budget -- well, specifically, the faith-based items. So I'll just turn it over to Jim for a quick summary and then we'll get to your questions.



MR. TOWEY: Thanks, Trent. Earlier this afternoon, Josh Bolten spoke of the need to sustain economic growth and restrain discretionary spending and proposed funding that sets priorities and rewards performance and also move in the direction of cutting the deficit in half -- and all the while doing this at a time when the country is fighting terrorism and promoting freedom abroad. And in that budget climate, and in light of tight budgetary times, President Bush today submitted a budget for 2006 that I think is compassionate, that continues to support partnerships between faith-based and community groups and government, so they can work together to address pressing social problems. In addition, I think not only is President Bush's budget compassionate, it gives greater choices to the poor and disadvantaged, in terms of social service providers and access to programs, and it maintains a vital safety net for those in need.

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When you look at the history of President Bush's budget submissions since he took office in 2001, you've seen that his compassion agenda has been a high priority. He has proposed in his faith-based and community initiative over the years a number of distinct programs addressing specific needs in our country. For the five programs I'm going to speak specifically of -- the mentoring of the children of prisoners, the Compassion Capital Fund, the access to recovery drug treatment program, prisoner re-entry and maternity group homes -- those five budget accounts in the 2006 budget that President Bush submitted today, the request is for $385 million. This represents $150 million increase over 2005 appropriated amounts for those programs.



Included in that request of the President is the new gang prevention initiative, which he announced last week in his State of the Union address. This initiative seeks to promote positive youth development and help at-risk youth avoid the lure and attraction of gangs so that they can find more productive use of their time and, in a way, to develop to their full potential. And that initiative is $50 million in the budget this year, part of the $100 million requested in the Compassion Capital Fund the President asked. If you look historically, since the President took office, those programs have received a half-billion dollars in appropriations.



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