And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

>>ACORN has too many friends in Washington and just won’t go away

Posted on: December 22, 2009

The Weekly Standard

ACORN has too many friends in Washington and no matter how many times they are seemiongly thrown under the bus they rise again.

Senator Roland Burris an Illinois Democrat, is claiming credit for a provision in Harry Reid’s “manager’s amendment,” unveiled Saturday morning, that could funnel money to ACORN through the health care bill.

The provision he cites, found on pages 240 through 248 of the manager’s amendment, requires that six different agencies each establish an “Office of Minority Health.” The agencies are the “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”

According to page 241 of the amendment:

In carrying out this subsection, the Secretary, acting through the Deputy Assistant Secretary, shall award grants, contracts, enter into memoranda of understanding, cooperative, interagency, intra-agency and other agreements with public and nonprofit private entities, agencies, as well as Departmental and Cabinet agencies and organizations, and with organizations that are indigenous human resource providers in communities of color to assure improved health status of racial and ethnic minorities, and shall develop measures to evaluate the effectiveness of activities aimed at reducing health disparities and supporting the local community. Such measures shall evaluate community outreach activities, language services, workforce cultural competence, and other areas as determined by the Secretary.’’

According to a Senate legislative aide, the scandal-plagued Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now could qualify for grants under this provision. ACORN would also qualify for funding on page 150 of the underlying Reid bill, which says that “community and consumer-focused nonprofit groups” may receive grants to “conduct public education activities to raise awareness of the availability of qualified health plans.”

Earlier this year, Congress passed and the president signed into law a ban on federal funding for ACORN, but a judge ruled that that law was unconstitutional. If a higher court reverses that ruling, ACORN may be prohibited from receiving funds through the Office of Minority Health earmark. But according to the Senate legislative aide, ACORN would still “absolutely” qualify for federal funding through the provision in the underlying Reid bill because the anti-ACORN appropriations amendment would not apply to funds provided through the health care exchanges.

A spokesman for Sen. Harkin, chairman of the HELP committee, wrote in an email that he “will look into” which organizations qualify for funding under these provisions. Spokesmen for Senators Reid and Dodd did not immediately reply to emails.

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