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An Interview with Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-MI)

Posted: June 03, 2003

Congressman Peter Hoekstra
Congressman Peter Hoekstra


Rep. Peter Hoekstra is a Republican Congressman from Michigan and is now serving his sixth term in office. He is a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Select Committee on Intelligence. He is also chairman of the Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Select Education.

Hoekstra was born in the Netherlands and immigrated to Michigan with his family when he was three-years-old and became a naturalized citizen. He is a graduate of Holland Christian Schools, and he holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hope College in Holland. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan. Prior to his election to Congress, he was vice president of marketing at furniture manufacturer Herman Miller Inc.

Last year, Rep. Hoekstra sponsored the Citizen Service Act of 2002 to reauthorize appropriations and revise programs administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS is the umbrella organization for the nation’s volunteer service programs, such as AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America. The measure, which included greater assistance to faith-based and community organizations, was reported to the House, but never went to the floor for a vote. Hoekstra plans to reintroduce the legislation during this session of Congress.



The Roundtable:

What is the status of a national and community service bill this year?

Congressman Hoekstra:

We’re continuing to try to resolve some of the outstanding issues between the members in the House, the White House and leadership. We’re asking, “Where do we need to go to get 218 votes?”

The Roundtable:

A controversial element of the bill last year was the elimination of Section 175, thereby allowing faith-based organization receiving CNCS funds to be able to base their hiring and firing decisions on an individual's religious beliefs. Is that an issue this year and what does the White House want?

Congressman Hoekstra:

The White House is giving us quite a bit of latitude and flexibility in shaping a bill. They would like Section 175 out and to be silent on the civil rights issue.

Right now, the Citizen Service Act is more restrictive than what standard civil rights law is in regards to who can use these dollars. We don’t want to write civil rights law in a new Citizen Service Act. That’s something that we’re working through. Democrats will call it backsliding. But we should never have had Section 175 in there in the first place. We should write civil rights law in civil rights law, not in the Citizen Service Act.

The Roundtable:

That was a controversial part of the bill that bogged down its passage last year. Are you willing to compromise on that to ensure passage?

Congressman Hoekstra:

We’re trying to see how we can resolve that issue. So we’re having lots of discussions.

The Roundtable:

When will you introduce the bill?

Congressman Hoekstra:

I’ll be the sponsor, and it helps to be chairman of the subcommittee that considers it. We’ll introduce the bill when we’re ready, and I’m expecting that to be some time this summer.

The Roundtable:

How is a national service bill part of the larger faith-based initiative promoted by the Bush Administration?

Congressman Hoekstra:

I think it’s a key component. This is the one bill and the one program