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Sens. Cruz, Scott, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Protect Faith-based Foster Care Providers

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this week joined Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and 21 other Republican senators in introducing the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which protects child welfare providers from being discriminated against for acting in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs. Cosponsors of this bill include Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Risch (R-Idaho), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Upon introduction, Sen. Cruz said:

"The government is prohibited from discriminating against individuals based on their religion, and yet where it is acceptable to practice one's faith shrinks each and every day. I am proud to join Senator Scott on this bill to protect First Amendment rights and ensure child welfare providers aren't wrongfully discriminated against based on their religious faith."

Sen. Scott said:

"In South Carolina and across the country, faith-based foster care providers support the 400,000 children in our foster care system who-through no fault of their own-have nowhere else to go. At a time when religious freedoms are under assault, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act is a necessary protection for those who are living according to their convictions. I am grateful my colleagues are standing with me to protect this most fundamental right."

The bill prohibits federal, state and local government agencies that receive federal adoption assistance funding from discriminating against child welfare service providers based on the providers' unwillingness to take action contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.

This would include all agencies that receive funding under Part B (Child and Family Services) or Part E (Federal Payments for Foster Care, Prevention and Permanency) of Title IV of the Social Security Act.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Heritage Action and Family Research Council support the bill.

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) introduced companion legislation in the House.