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House passes amendment to cut government funding for ACORN

  • Story Highlights
  • Senate passed similar measure earlier in the week
  • Community organization group under fire after release of videos
  • Workers on tapes appeared to be condoning illegal activity
  • CEO says group will be able to continue work even if funding is cut
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House of Representatives approved an amendment Thursday that calls for halting government funding to the community organizing group ACORN.

The videos have sparked controversy over ACORN, already under fire amid election fraud claims.

The videos have sparked controversy over ACORN, already under fire amid election fraud claims.

The measure, added to a larger bill on reforming student loans that won House approval, follows a provision passed earlier in the week by the Senate that would halt Housing and Urban Development grants to ACORN.

Both measures would have to have their differences reconciled in Congress to take effect.

ACORN's chief executive officer says that the group gets most of its money from members and other supporters and that its operations would continue even if it is cut off from government grants.

However, approval of the House and Senate measures demonstrated the political fallout against ACORN after the recent release of videos that appeared to show the agency's employees condoning illegal actions.

The videos were secretly taped by two individuals posing as a prostitute and a pimp. They show ACORN employees in four of the agency's offices suggesting or condoning a series of illicit actions as the couple sought advice on setting up a brothel with underage women from El Salvador. Video Watch more on the videos »

On Wednesday, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis announced administrative steps to respond to the videos.

"We have all been deeply disturbed by what we've seen in some of these videos," Lewis said. "I must say on behalf of ACORN's board and our Advisory Council that we will go to whatever lengths necessary to re-establish the public trust."

The steps announced include an immediate halt in hiring for all ACORN offices, an immediate training program for all front-line staff and selection of an independent auditor by the end of this week.

Also Wednesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller signaled a potential federal investigation of the organization.

In response to a description of the highly publicized videotapes by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Mueller told a congressional hearing that he had just learned of the matter.

"Clearly, given what you have said, it's something in consultation with the Department of Justice that we would look at," Mueller said.

At least 11 states have been investigating ACORN -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- amid claims of voter registration fraud stemming from the general election in 2008.

The videos by filmmaker James O'Keefe and colleague Hannah Giles have caused ACORN to fire four employees shown on the tapes.

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The videos were shot in ACORN offices in New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington; and San Bernardino, California. ACORN claims that the film team also attempted but failed to "trick" employees in several other cities to make incriminating statements.

On its Web site, ACORN, which was founded in 1970, describes itself as "the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities."

CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Terry Frieden contributed to this story.

All About Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

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