That the best offense is a good defense holds true in football. In Congress an effective offense that enacts legislation very well may find itself playing a new strategic game – defense. That has been the case in recent years in regard to funding programs involving values issues. The forces which would protect family values must prepare to play defense to protect hard-fought gains.
Fortunately, the Values Action Teams (VAT) in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate are able to play good brands of offense and defense.
The House VAT, chaired by Representative Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA), works to develop consensus on strategies and tactics regarding pro-family and pro-life issues. The House VAT was formed in 1998 after pro-life and pro-family members held a values summit which identified the need for more coordination. VAT Members of Congress must be strongly pro-life and willing to do more than vote correctly; they must organize and advocate on behalf of issues.
One recent indication of VAT effectiveness came when the House passed last year the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act. There is a strong lobby for casinos in the House but action by anti-gambling groups and VAT helped to ensure that casinos would not be made eligible to receive tax benefits for rebuilding in areas impacted by Katrina and Rita. Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) wrote two letters objecting to tax breaks for casino interests. One letter, in October, noted that such a tax break for one casino could reach as high as $50 million. A second letter, in December, noted that the Senate had passed a bill allowing casinos, liquor stores and massage parlors to be eligible for tax benefits. The letter, of course, strongly objected to benefits for businesses such as casinos “which are boasting of record profits.” VAT played a major role in gathering signatures for the letters. The bill signed by President George W. Bush did not include tax breaks for casinos although hotels and casinos attached to casinos can take advantage of tax breaks.
The FY 2007 appropriations process is beginning and will present new dangers requiring VAT to play a good defense. Pro-abortion forces will use floor debates this year over appropriations bills to sponsor amendments aimed at reversing some hard-won gains by the pro-life forces.