The provision bans money designated for school renovation from being spent on facilities that allow "religious worship." It has ignited a fury among critics who say it violates the First Amendment and is an attempt to prevent religious practice in schools.
According to the bill, which the Democratic-controlled House passed despite unanimous Republican opposition, funds are prohibited from being used for the "modernization, renovation, or repair" of facilities that allow "sectarian instruction, religious worship or a school or department of divinity."
Critics say that could include public schools that permit religious groups to meet on campus. The House provided $20 billion for the infrastructure improvements, of which $6 billion would go to higher education facilities where the limitations would be applied.
"What the government is doing is discriminating against religious viewpoints," said Matthew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that works to advance religious freedom.
"President Obama's version of faith-based initiatives is to remove the faith from initiative," said Staver, who points out Obama has "a completely different view on faith" from what he said during his presidential campaign.
"He is not the infallible messiah that some thought he would be," Straver said.