House approves extension of religious freedom commission

The only point of contention came from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), the sponsor of the original legislation creating the commission, and his complaint was about the Senate. Wolf argued on the floor Wednesday that efforts to reauthorize the commission are being "held hostage" by the Senate, and warned that both chambers must take up this bill quickly.

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"If we do not pass this bill in this forum today, the likelihood of this commission shutting down is very high," Wolf said Wednesday.

The commission reviews religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the president and Congress. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) argued on the floor that there are numerous religious freedom issues in the world that could go unheeded if the commission were to expire.

Smith also argued that concerns over the budget deficit should not dissuade members from supporting the bill. Under the legislation, the commission would receive $4.3 million in fiscal 2012 and 2013, and would be authorized through Sept. 30, 2013.

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