March 26, 2004

March 26, 2004 | News Releases on Family and Marriage

Senators, Experts to Speak Out for "Healthy Marriage Initiative"

WASHINGTON, MARCH 26, 2004 - As the Senate prepares to discuss a new welfare reform bill next week, supporters and experts on reform will highlight the benefits of a key provision of the bill - the president's Healthy Marriage Initiative - at a press conference on Wednesday, March 31, at 3:30 p.m., in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol.

The conference, open only to credentialed media (others call the Daily Press Gallery at 202-224-0241), will feature Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., and Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Other participants include Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation, a chief architect of the 1996 welfare reform law, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, Michael Schwartz, vice-president of government relations for Concerned Women for America, Barrett Duke, director of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Bob Woodson, president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise.

Speakers will express support for the "Healthy Marriage Initiative" as part of a reform package that calls for increased work requirements and penalties for states that don't enforce welfare laws properly. The president first proposed the idea of spending $300 million annually to encourage pre-marriage training and counseling and other measures to curb divorce and encourage happy marriages, in 2001. He reiterated his support for it in his most recent State of the Union address.

"By fostering better life decisions and stronger relationship skills, marriage programs can increase child well-being and adult happiness and reduce child poverty and welfare dependence," says Rector. "Yet opponents make it sound as if the government would be forcing people into unhappy unions. It's nonsense."

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