WACO, Texas — President Bush urged Americans on Saturday to pressure their senators to approve his proposal to help religious and other community groups seeking to provide social services historically delivered by the government.
One day after John J. DiIulio Jr., head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said he would resign, the president used his weekly radio address to promote the plan. It has been approved by the House but faces a likely battle in the Senate.
"The needs are real. The time to act is as soon as Congress returns to work after Labor Day," the president said.
He made no reference to DiIulio's impending departure. The White House portrayed DiIulio's resignation as not unexpected. He had said when taking office in January--when it was considered likely that the plan would win approval--that he planned to stay only six months or so, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
Reiterating his argument for the proposal, Bush said: "Faith-based and community groups cannot replace the work of government, but with government's help, they can serve many more people."
During his vacation, the president has made brief forays from his ranch near Crawford to highlight the sort of programs he says would be aided by his faith-based initiative, among them a Habitat for Humanity building project in Waco and a YMCA trail rehabilitation site in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The program is intended to overcome restrictions on ties between government and religious charities that provide diverse social services, among them helping prisoners' families, tutoring, alcohol and drug rehabilitation and after-school programs.