- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

The chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the District said yesterday that he will add $4 million to the D.C. budget next year to help married or engaged couples buy a home, get job training or start a business.

“We need more family formation in the District … We need more children raised in two-parent homes,” said Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican. “This initiative will help with doing that … It will expand job-training funding for those who get married; there’s also funding in there for mentoring and counseling couples.”

Mr. Brownback’s proposal would add $1 million to a matched-savings program approved by the Senate last year.

Under the program, the federal government contributes $3 for every $1 a D.C. couple invests and allows a maximum lifetime payment of $9,000. Couples must withdraw the money and be married within three years of entering the program.

The new proposal would provide more funds for job training and mentoring. Last year’s version was the first of its kind in the country.

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday that he supports Mr. Brownback’s bill.

“There are a lot of things we agree on and a lot of things we disagree on,” said Mr. Williams, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election. “But this is something on which we wholeheartedly agree, and that is that too many children in our city are being raised by single parents.”

The mayor said there are more than 13,000 families headed by single parents in the District who earn less than $10,000 a year and live well below the poverty line. Many parents do not get married for fear of higher taxes, he said.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said yesterday that the marriage incentive is important because it gives children a chance to be raised by two parents.

“We’re talking about the failure to form families at all, and that is becoming the trend across our country,” Mrs. Norton said. “We’re forgetting who gets hurt — the children are hurt from the moment they step into this world.

“When Sam said he wanted to do marriage development, I said, ‘Right on, right on, anything we can do,’” she said.

Mr. Brownback said he has yet to experience any serious opposition to his bill. He said it likely will go to a vote in the Senate in late November as part of the larger D.C. appropriations bill.