Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lankford: No Room For Politics In Grant Process

Congressman James Lankford said today there is no room for the federal government to put politics ahead of transparency and accountability in the grant process when providing care for victims of human trafficking.

His comments followed a committee hearing entitled, “HHS and the Catholic Church: Examining the Politicization of Grants.”

The hearing examined the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program after it became known that HHS allowed political preferences to exclude the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for a grant they have been awarded for years. According to an independent review board, the USCCB received the second highest score (89) among candidates applying for grants on a list of criteria set forth by HHS. Despite their high score, the USCCB were ultimately not awarded the grant and instead passed over in favor of an organization that had the fourth highest score (69).

“Today’s hearing clearly shows the need for grant reform because too often politics trump merit during the award process,” said Lankford. “The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has for five years demonstrated that they are capable of meeting the requirements outlined by the grant proposal to assist human trafficking victims, but because these grants are being awarded without an open process, their vital services are being limited for reasons that have nothing to do with care or support. There is no room for this type of interference when it comes to giving victims of human of trafficking much needed health care, counseling, housing and legal assistance. Since the Catholic Church would not encourage abortions, their grant was pulled by the political leadership of HHS. It is apparent that the grant process was neither transparent nor free of political interference. This grant should prioritize the victims of human trafficking, not the political favors of the administration.”


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