• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Obama Administration Puts Politics Before Trafficking Victims?

    This morning, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a full committee hearing to investigate claims of gross politicization of a grant process that stripped funding for a group effectively serving human trafficking victims.

    In late September, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ceased funding for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) work with victims of sex slavery and trafficking. The bishops’ group had been using HHS funds to assist trafficking victims since 2006. While HHS has not specified a reason for denying USCCB further funding, some have wondered whether the Obama Administration’s pandering to a pro-abortion agenda influenced the process.

    Back in July, HHS released the grant competition requirements, stating the department would give “strong preference” to applicants that offer referrals for “the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care”—including referrals for abortion. USCCB, in accordance with its religious beliefs, has a policy of refusing to refer trafficking victims for contraception or abortion.

    USCCB provides a wide range of necessary services to victims, including housing, medical assistance, and mental-health care, and has successfully partnered with more than 150 religious and secular groups to care for more than 2,700 victims of human trafficking. According to sources within the HHS, however, the success of USCCB’s efforts in saving and serving trafficking victims apparently did not warrant the department’s “strong preference.”

    A Washington Post investigation found that USCCB lost the grant competition despite having received higher scores of effectiveness than other grant competitors. Of the three groups awarded funding by HHS this fall, two of the applicants “scored significantly below the Catholic bishops’ application,” according to Post sources.

    George Sheldon, acting assistant secretary of the Administration of Children and Families, who testified at today’s hearing, has denied prejudice against the bishops’ group in the grant process. Some career staffers at HHS, however, have apparently expressed concern that political appointees were involved in reshaping the grant process and seemed intent on denying the trafficking assistance funding to the bishops’ group. The Washington Post reported:

    In the case of the trafficking contract, senior political appointees at HHS stepped in to award the new grants to the bishops’ competitors, overriding an independent review board and career staffers who had recommended that the bishops be funded again, according to federal officials and internal HHS documents.…The decision not to fund the bishops this time has caused controversy inside HHS. A number of career officials refused to sign documents connected to the grant, feeling that the process was unfair and politicized, individuals familiar with the matter said.

    Commenting on the House Oversight Committee’s investigation into allegations of politicization of the grant process, Chairman Darrell Issa (R–CA) said at today’s hearing:

    These actions appear to constitute an abuse of discretion and undermine the integrity of the process, while potentially violating the spirit, if not the letter, of federal laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination based on religious beliefs.

    If evidence gathered by the Oversight Committee points to HHS discrimination against the Catholic group, this wouldn’t be the first time the Obama Administration has sacrificed protection of conscience rights to achieve its political goals. Faith-based entities like USCCB should be free to work according to deeply held beliefs—the same beliefs that spur concern for those in need in the first place. This most recent episode in an escalating battle over the conscience rights of faith-based entities suggests attacks on institutional religious freedom may be far from over.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    50 Responses to Obama Administration Puts Politics Before Trafficking Victims?

    1. steve h says:

      Conservatives continue to say cut, cut, cut….but then they turn around and get angry over cuts. You can't have it both ways. You can't scream about government spending being out of control, then get mad about spending constraints. There is just no winning.

      • Greg says:

        Wow, that so breathtakingly misses the point that I hope it is cynical.

      • Clark B says:

        Steve, your comment might make sense if it was even close to being factually correct. The funds were not cut, they were awarded to other entities. Save your ranting for another story where it might actually apply.

      • Either you don't read very carefully, or you are too blinded by your political agenda to see the facts. This has nothing at all to do with cutting spending. The money will still be spent. It is being taken away from an organization that by all measures was using it more effectively than others doing the same thing and channeled elsewhere. This nothing other than a political punishment. The problem is that this administration is willing to see victims of human trafficking suffer a reduction in the quality of services in order to push its own agenda. They simply don't care that the victims were receiving the ais they needed, it wasn't being done heir way. Small minds indeed.

      • peasoup says:

        I agree that gov't spending is out of control and, yes, it will be difficult to make cuts without someone feeling slighted. That said, the article is about a grant process that may have been changed within HHS to possibly keep out a religious group that has been effective in assisting human trafficking victims and has little, if anything, to do with a conversation about cutting gov't spending.

      • pinkmabel says:

        This was neither a cut nor a constraint. The grant money was just awarded to someone else based on political influence and preferences.

      • Lou says:

        That's nonsense. This wasn't about cuts. It was about preferential treatment or anti-preferential treatment by the government against those who have a different view on abortion than this administration. No money was cut. It was awarded to less qualified groups because they shared the administration's political views.

      • Discourser says:

        Yes, conservatives do want cuts; but in this case the government did not make any cuts. The article says, "Of the three groups awarded funding by HHS this fall…" This means that the government SPENT the money. There were no cuts or spending constraints. But that's not what this article is about. It's about the Obama Administration's deliberate persecution of the Catholic Church.

      • Lynn says:

        The money was not cut, it was awarded elsewhere so there was no savings. Meanwhile a group that was doing effective work was left out because it would not compromise there values to play political games. The losers are the young women and girls that are being exploited.

      • Kathy says:

        I became conservative after hearing so many relatives and friends including my own husband who is a Federal employee tell me many stories about wasteful spending and stupidity but protecting human lives
        including those can never be considered a waste of time and money!

      • yelmite says:

        In this case, the money is not being cut, it's being spent on the least effective services…please know what you're talking about, and stop comparing apples to oranges. Typical lib, twisting the facts to supporttheir delusions….

      • bill says:

        DUDE….reread the article,funds were not "cut, cut, cut…",they were allocated with political bias.

      • The problem Steve is not that the funding for the grant program was cut. I, as a conservative, would be fine with that. If the reason the Bishops didn't receive funding was due to a lack of funds, fine, but that is not the case here. Other groups which scored lower on the funding requirements were funded while the high scoring Bishops were not. Cut the whole program and I'd be happy, but as long as it is there let the funding go to the most effective groups.

      • Cuts need to made yes, but let start with the waste in the government, not needed services such as this. And what right does the government have to force their abortion agenda on the people who are trying to make a difference. Even if it is a religion. There are hundreds of more effective ways to save taxpayer money. Let start with a smaller government. CUT it in 1/2 and we would be able to help these victims. By the Way steve h what have you done recently to help?

      • Joe Independent says:

        @Steve H – You missed the mark as your argument doesn't make sense. This story isn't about spending cuts, as you quickly point out. It's about manipulating the system to favor political biases and/or agendas. You seem to have missed the fact that the grant was awarded to another organization(s) that was less deserving; so taxpayer money was still handed out. There is no spending cut to be had in this case. Now, if HHS opted to halt any further grants to any organization, and USCCB complained about it, then you might have an argument. Otherwise, the point you made is not revelant. Besides, I happen to know plenty of liberals who are pro-life; so your labeling of conservatives is misplaced as well.

      • Jeff B says:

        Maybe you missed the paragraph which stated, in part:
        "Of the three groups awarded funding by HHS this fall, two of the applicants “scored significantly below the Catholic bishops’ application,” according to Post sources."

        The only spending constraints in play here were the ones that picked lesser qualified applicants to receive the funding.

      • Rochelle says:

        There is no cutting here. The grant money was awarded to another group. This is about choices made by those in power. You are right Steve. There is no winning when an effective agency is sidestepped for poor reasons.

      • Richard Bakley says:

        This HHs decision is not a cut but rather gives the funds to less effective organizations solely for political reasons.

      • Holli says:

        First of all, it wasn’t a cut, it was a denial of funds that were then given to another organization.

        The problem is that they don't cut it equally for everyone instead of only cutting for those that don't fall in line with what the administration wants them to do.

        If all the programs that are unconstitutional went away, were delegated to the states as required by the US Constitution, and all those laws that are not applied equally to every person in the country were either repealed or reformed (including the crap sandwich that is the tax code), there would not be a funding problem. These poor souls would be taken care of state-by-state, and the individual donations that would be flowing to them through the charity of the citizens of this great nation and the hard work of centers like these.

        The difference is that the program exists, and the administration is picking which centers get funding and which don't based, it seems in great part, on whether or not they offer the services of killing innocent children. Surely, you see the difference. Well, I used to be an ultra-flaming liberal, so I'll presume you don't, as I wouldn't have. But, that's the truth. Conservatives are not hypocrites.
        There are many a politician with an "R" next to his or her name that are not conservatives, but the actual conservatives are not. We support proper spending by the federal government on those items that are outlined in the US Constitution, and nothing more. The rest is for the states and the people. Seems I've read that somewhere before…

    2. Carlos Cordero says:

      The Catholic Church and the Vatican are multi-million dollars enterprises. Why should they receive Government funding?

      • Discourser says:

        The Catholic Church is not a company organized for commercial purposes. Unlike the government, the Church does not confiscate the treasure of the people; the people voluntarily bring their treasure to the Church, which acts as the steward of those riches. The Catholic Church (which is the largest provider of charitable services in the world) must be visible, organized, and able to maintain itself financially. If it wasn’t, it would have no means by which to provide for the needy. It is precisely one of these charitable SERVICES that is being funded, not the personal bank accounts of Catholics.
        The government decided to fund groups that effectively serve the victims of human trafficking…the USCCB happens to be the group that does it most effectively. If the government grants were based on which organization had the least amount of financial resources, you would see thousands of dishonest people forming organizations just to get the money.

    3. Rod says:

      I have many comments or maybe one comment that encompasses many issues, but what I really would like is a list of bureaucracies that the administration has initiated since Obama has taken office, like the Administration of Children and Families. From where did that come?

    4. Bob Kill says:

      When, When, When are we going get these freaks out of OUR White house. I can't stand it anymore. Enough is enough. We need people who will serve the people.
      We need to get the parasites out of the government and get servants deployed before it to late.
      Big problem is that the Repubs and the Dems are equally guilty.
      We need to rid ourselves of these self-serving scum that we have allowed to near the money pile..

    5. race_12_1 says:

      Steve H.–In this case it isn't the spending, it how it is being spent. They didn't cut the spending, they gave the money, which was being used effectively to serve victims, to another organization. This is a case of moving the spending to a place more political advantageous to the president, not cutting. The money in this case is going to spent, the question is was the decision to move the funding based on political motivation? It was, since the money was taken form an organization that was using it effectively, but was not supportive of the presidents politics. When we do spend money, it ought to be spent where most effective, regardless of any political motives.

    6. Ken G says:

      @steve h
      Nice try but where in the article did you read about cuts? Nothing was cut. The money was spent, it just went to another group. This article is about discrimination. Typical liberal strategy…change the subject when you can't defend the substance of the argument.

    7. Alex Van Buskirk says:

      @Steve H: I think you are missing the point. There is no mention of frustration regarding funding cuts in general, or the cuts to the organization itself–the issue appears to be that the Health and Human Services exercised a prejudicially misguided approach when allocating funds reserved for various grants. The post 'Obama Administration Puts Politics Before Trafficking Victims?' hinges on this statement "…USCCB lost the grant competition despite having received higher scores of effectiveness than other grant competitors. Of the three groups awarded funding by HHS this fall, two of the applicants 'scored significantly below the Catholic bishops’ application…'" which ties in to this statement "…While HHS has not specified a reason for denying USCCB further funding, some have wondered whether the Obama Administration’s pandering to a pro-abortion agenda influenced the process…" and is ultimately related to this statement "…USCCB, in accordance with its religious beliefs, has a policy of refusing to refer trafficking victims for contraception or abortion…"

      As an objective observer, it is clear that Sarah Torre and the Heritage Foundation have given a reasonable amount of information to, at the very least, cause the reader to raise an eyebrow about the decision made by HHS. Surely, though, not an exercise of Conservative hypocrisy like you are suggesting.

    8. Mark Harness says:

      Steve. It seems to be what they cut and who they gave the money to. Did you read the article? If so, you make no sense!

    9. tracy k says:

      Unfortunately, in this case, the issue isn't over IF funding is being given; it is over discrimination as to WHO funding is being given to. If the government has already approved giving of grants for organizations that work to stop human trafficking, the decision as to who gets funding should not be politically driven.

    10. jen says:

      that wasn't a spending cut or constraint. the grant was given to a grant competitor. did you not read the article or are you blind from biased ignorance?

    11. C P says:

      Steve, it's money that was going to be spent anyway, just going to another organization, so technically it's not a cut. And from the looks of the article, it is going to an inferior organization and THAT does irritate me. We should be hiring the best contractors based on performance not on elementary school antics.

    12. Ann Tranel says:

      It doesn't surprise me that Obama would stop funding for the USCCB. He would much rather use Gov''t funds to support Planned Parenthood and so-called green jobs. He has such a warped sense of right that absolutely nothing he does surprises me anymore. In fact, I have never been fooled by him. The first interview I saw him in as he started campaigning for his first run for President, I made the comment that I found him to be very slick. He was already talking out of both sides of his mouth and the interviewer seemed to not even notice.

      • Mitch says:

        Ann Tranel is correct. She and other astute citizens can see through Mr. Obama's "warped" tactics. He is "slicker" than Slick Willy. Thank you Ann.

    13. Steve H, This action was not a cut. It was a decision to award the grant to another agency that did not perform as well as the USCCB had been reported to have performed in the past.

    14. Hana says:

      The problem is that the cut is affecting a service program meant to help victims of trafficking. Why not cut something more unimportant?

    15. liz says:

      Read the article again. There were no cuts. they just gave the money to different groups.

    16. Donna says:

      There was no "cut" here, the money was awarded to another less effective group. It was blatant discrimination against a faith based group because of its pro-life stance.

    17. David says:

      To Steve h: Stop the spin. This is not about "cuts". This is about the administration pushing it's agenda (in this case abortion) while apparently discrininating against Catholics. This is also about "doing the right thing". The staffers reviewed the data and decided that USCCB was using the grant money most effectively. What's right about senior political appointees (i.e. not elected) overriding that decision? Another example of Obama overeaching…

    18. StGlen says:

      Steve H: This wasn't a spending cut. The same money was redirected to less effective non-religious groups. So now less human trafficking victims are going to be served with the same amount of tax dollars. And besides that obvious issue, this amount of money is abolutely miniscule compared to the real budget items that need to be cut like: social security, medicare, medicade, and the military. Your argument falls flat when you fail to reveal your "double standard" by comparing trillions of dollars to millions of dollars.

    19. Therese says:

      Steve, did I read this wrong? Looks to me like the money was awarded, just not to people who excell at the stated purpose without providing abortions.

    20. Diane says:

      Steve h – I understand what you are saying about "cut cut cut" but in this case, there was money that is going to be giving…so when there is money it should be distributed fairly instead of with political motives. Seem to me this administration is not even hiding the fact that there are politics behind who get the cash now. Might work in Chicago where it's mostly democrats but not from the White House administration that is supposed to be in office for all the people.

    21. guest says:

      Well, actually, yes you can win. You cut the right programs.
      Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked a year. that equals out to like 1 1/2 people every minuet. Human Traffiking ruins the lives of millions of kids, and humans. the odds are that they will live in that hell for the rest of their lives.
      When conservatives talk about cutting, they mean entitlement programs and foreign aid to countries we don't even like.
      Don't tell me there is no winning. Of course we can win…..

      Cutting the fight to Human Trafficking is like condemning those teenagers and adults to living heck.
      (Sorry, I am really passionate about Human Trafficking) for websites, look up ijm.com or lc2lc

      • Holli says:

        Good for you! If more of us got involved, if we elected moral people who would enforce the Supreme Law of the Land, this kind of thing could be all but wiped out. It IS slavery. Anyone who says otherwise is just putting their head in the sand.

    22. Rochelle says:

      It seems as though we are living in an alternate universe. What should be Good is not and what is Bad or a bad decision is OK. Why would the new management of these grant processes not take in consideration the committee recommendations? If one agency is particularly effective, should it not be awarded the monies instead of the agencies that are less effective? So what is different? This is the shame of politics: succumbing to a political group and denying people in need.

    23. jones j says:

      Nothing in this article refers to any spending cuts or limits. The issue is whether the decision on how to allot existing funds–which organizations were to receive the funds–was driven by politics rather than standards of effectiveness of the programs. "USCCB provides a wide range of necessary services to victims, including housing, medical assistance, and mental-health care, and has successfully partnered with more than 150 religious and secular groups to care for more than 2,700 victims of human trafficking." Their work was clearly evaluated as superior. Career staffers were ready to continue funding their efforts. Political appointees funded less effective organizations instead for political reasons.

    24. Randy says:

      why are we still funding organizations like ACORN who have been shown on video promoting trafficing and underage sex trade/

    25. tim says:

      You people are hypocrites. The Bishops refuse to use contraception or Abortion in what they do. Abortion is legal in America so to deny women that right with Federal money is illegal! You are all for getting rid of Planned Parenthood because they do not agree with what you believe for contraceptives and Abortion but you are for this organization. That is illegal in America to tell people what they can do in that regard. This is not a Obama rule! This is the law of the land for decades. You can not tell women what they can do with their body's. Deal with it! By the way I am Catholic and I have my beliefs on that issue of Abortion but I have no right to rule another person's life!

    26. Guest says:

      Obama has once again shed light on the dark game he is playing by employing his appointed hacks to "cut" out those voluntary associations that do not submit to his "progressive" agenda. This is not politics as it is usually played – that is "to the winner goes the spoils". Obama's intent is to weaken institutional resistance to the transformation of America into his primitive vision of socialist, statist political structure. That he does so at such a broad spectrum of densely regulated industries as well as contracted social and other services has the effect of laying a smoke screen so thick that the electorate is so blinded that the syncophant media and uniformed liberal mass camoflage America's plunge toward tyranny.

    27. Don says:

      Part 1
      This doesn't surprise me one bit. It what I expect from Obama, "the Sodomy Pimp." The debate going on the last few weeks has really been irritating to me. The Conservatives & Republicans are really handling this whole Cain scenario wrong. They should be attacking the Democrats and their media instead of paying defense. They are letting this whole scenario of Herman Cain to be the issue. They need to make the Obama sex scandal the issue. Obama’s addiction with sex is a far, far greater issue. I call Obama the “Sodomy Pimp” – because that's what he is. He is the biggest promoter in this nation of sodomy, of pornography, and of the entire sex-trade industry. Here we have Barack Obama promoting and pushing sodomy and pedophilia in every school in this country – even early grade school. He's promoting sodomy in the military, even telling the military chaplains to get out if they don't agree with him. He’s the biggest promoter of Planned Parenthood, which does everything they can to cover up under age sex trafficking, and in fact the entire sex trade industry. When he got into office what did he do – he appointed as the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, David Ogden.

      • Don says:

        Part 2
        Who Is David Ogden? He is the number one defense attorney for the hard-core pornography industry. For years he has defended Playboy, Penthouse, and PHE, Inc., the nation's largest distributor of hard-core porn videos and other sex-related products (including child pornography). What’s the result – the Justice Department is being controlled by the pornography industry. So what we see here, is that Obama is the biggest promoter in the country of sodomy, of pornography, of abortion, and of the entire sex trade industry.
        Pornography, obviously, underpins the sex trade industry in every area, is very much tied into to the homosexual agenda, and of course the abortion mills cover up the underage sex trafficking that goes on in this country.
        So here we are with the Republicans spinning their wheels defending a phony charge on Cain when they just should just turn it on the mainstream media themselves and say exactly who Barack Obama is.
        The Penn State scandal is just the tip of a huge "liberal/progressive" iceberg.

    28. Mary Boud says:

      "He who pays the piper calls the tune." The Catholic Church should make do with what is freely donated. We used to support hospitals without government largess, that is, tax money.. Now we accept government money as a matter of course. The USCCB needs to say 'no thank you' to being on the federal dole. We may not have as many hospitals or programs, but we will be closer to practicing subsidiarity, which opposes all forms of collectivism. (CCC #1885)

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.