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Lewis Opening Statement at Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on How the Tax Code Subsidizes Hate

(As prepared for delivery)

Good morning.  Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to the witnesses for taking the time to be here today.  

I know it is not easy, and I want to thank you for being brave and bold and for taking the time to speak up, speak out, and share your stories. 

Today, the Oversight Subcommittee will review how the tax code supports hate groups.
  
The code exempts some charitable and educational organizations from paying taxes.  

Some of these organizations promote hate based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.  

Their actions taint the good work of all tax-exempt organizations.  

Hate is not consistent with the goodwill of our nation and its people.  

I believe that the federal government should not sponsor or support groups whose hatred seeks to divide us.  

Any tax-exempt organization that promotes hate and sows the seeds of violence is one too many.  

Unfortunately, hate is on the rise throughout our country.  

We have a duty, a mission, and a mandate to ask the question, “Why?”  

We can no longer avoid this fact.  We must be vigilant, and we must take action.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would often remark that, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  

As Members of Congress, we must have what I often call an executive session with ourselves, and we must do our part.

During today’s hearing, I ask that Members open our ears, hearts, and minds to the witnesses who are here to share the real impact of hate.  

We will hear from a survivor of a mass shooting, who lost two of his friends in a deadly attack on the LGBTQ community.  

We will hear from a father, who lost his beloved daughter in an attack on women. 
 
We will hear from a community, which lost 22 of its members in an attack on Latinos and immigrants.  

This morning, I ask each and every member of this Subcommittee to put our personal politics aside.  

I ask you to listen to our witnesses with empathy and love.  

I ask you to think about our role and responsibility to do all we can to stem the cycle of hate and gun violence in our country.  

Again, I thank all of our witnesses for being here today.  I look forward to your testimony.   Now, I am pleased to recognize the Ranking Member for his opening statement.   

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