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House rejects parochial Head Start

The U.S. House of Representatives rejected an amendment that would have extended Head Start funds to religious groups. A coalition of religious groups, including the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America, backed the Republican-backed amendment to a larger bill that would expand funding for the popular program aimed at preschoolers in low-income families. Most other Jewish groups opposed the amendment, which on Wednesday was defeated 222-195, because it would have allowed funds to go to organizations that display religious symbols and discriminate in hiring. “For 35 years these fundamental non-discrimination protections have worked well, allowing thousands of Head Start programs in communities throughout the country to flourish while maintaining essential constitutional and civil-rights safeguards,” Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement. The House passed the broader Head Start bill.