Children's Monitor Online
A Public Policy Update from the Child Welfare League of America

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 46: 11/20/2006   
Headlines

Holiday Note

Congress Returning for December Session

New 110th Congress Beginning to Take Shape

Dellums Commission Releases Final Report Addressing Obstacles for Youth of Color

Advance the 5-Point Congressional Platform!

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Holiday Note

The Children's Monitor will not be published next Monday, November 27. The Monitor will return December 4. Enjoy the holiday!

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Congress Returning for December Session

Congress approved a continuing resolution (CR) extending federal funding for most federal departments into December. The first CR expired November 18. The CR provides stop-gap federal funding for all programs and departments that have not had an appropriations bill enacted. The federal fiscal year began October 1; after passing appropriations for defense and for homeland security, Congress adjourned for the election campaign. When Members of Congress returned for the first time since the election, they began work on passing the appropriations bill for military construction.

The new CR expires December 8, and Republican leaders have indicated they intend to finish all business by December 15. The general goal is to pass as many noncontroversial appropriations as they can by the time the 109th Congress ends its final session. That strategy appears to leave out appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS). Congress is still confronted with a lack of funding to adopt a Labor-HHS bill at the levels to which leaders of both houses had committed before the election. The options now are to include Labor-HHS in a much smaller omnibus appropriations bill that would include only a few other bills, or to simply provide a CR for Labor-HHS funding into the new year. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the incoming chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education, has advocated for adding $7 billion in funding to Labor-HHS-Education. That would bring funding for the three departments in line with 2005 spending levels. Harkin has indicated there are a majority of votes in the Senate to support this funding level.

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New 110th Congress Beginning to Take Shape

The new 110th Congress, which officially starts January 3, has begun taking shape as some of the key leadership and committee positions were being filled. On November 14, Senate Democrats reaffirmed their current leadership in their new majority role. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) will be the Majority Leader, and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) will be the Majority Whip. On November 15, Senate Republicans selected Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Minority Leader and Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) as Minority Whip.

Senate Democrats also announced committee assignments, although they will not be final and official until they have a formal agreement with Republicans. All committees except for Foreign Affairs will maintain the same numbers when the Democrats had brief control of the chamber in 2001-2002. The three vacancies on Finance will be filled by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) , Ken Salazar (D-CO), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Barack Obama (D-IL), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will join the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Freshmen Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) will join the Judiciary Committee. Cardin, Sanders, and Whitehouse will also join the Budget Committee. Senate Republicans have not yet indicated their choices.

In the House, subcommittee organization is expected to undergo some restructuring; final decisions and selections are expected in January. House Democrats formally elected Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as the next Speaker. In a contentious race for Majority Leader, the number two position in the House Democratic leadership, Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), currently Assistant Democratic Leader, defeated Representative John Murtha (D-PA), a long-time Pelosi ally, to become. At press time the House republicans had not finalized their new leadership positions.

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Dellums Commission Releases Final Report Addressing Obstacles for Youth of Color

On November 15, in an event that attracted local, state, and national elected officials, legal experts, scholars, advocates, community activists, and corporate and media representatives, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Health Policy Institute, held a press conference and panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, addressing key elements of the new Dellums Commission report.

Named for Commission Chair Ron Dellums, Mayor-elect of Oakland, California, and former U.S. Representative, the Dellums Commission report identifies key policy recommendations to mitigate systematic obstacles and improve life options for young men of color. The report concludes that erroneous public policies have contributed to the many barriers that plague young men of color. For example, in the 1980s, youth offenders were increasingly diverted to adult penal systems, and municipalities abandoned rehabilitation. Subsequently, prison incarceration rates increased.

The commission's recommendations include repealing laws such as mandatory minimum sentences, truth-in-sentencing, and three-strikes-and-you're-out penalties; increasing the minimum wage; providing more funding for proven job training programs; increasing funding for the Workforce Investment Act; evaluating the fairness and equity of the No Child Left Behind Act for young men of color nationally; eliminating zero-tolerance policy; extending health care to all uninsured children through the age of 18 who are not covered by Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Plan; and promoting avenues that address diversity in communications and media representation.

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Advance the 5-Point Congressional Platform!

Join CWLA in this initiative to engage Members of Congress to make a difference in children's lives. Urge U.S. Senators and Representatives to support the 5-Point Platform and Make Children a National Priority in 2007!

The five points in the platform will help protect children who are abused and neglected and help prevent abuse. Included in the platform are specific, concrete issues federal legislators can and should support to protect the nearly 900,000 children abused and neglected each year. The five points of the platform represent specific legislative actions every member of the House and Senate should support. Find out more.

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CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

CWLA's Legislative Alerts provide breaking news, advocacy information, and critically important timely details of legislative battles. In an effort to broaden CWLA's advocacy network on behalf of children, anyone can now subscribe and receive the same information. This effort compliments CWLA's weekly electronic legislative newsletter, the Children's Monitor, which is also available free to any subscriber. We encourage you to register to receive these items directly and to pass on the information to other colleagues, family, and friends.

Subscribe to Legislative Alerts.

Subscribe to Children's Monitor.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

October 1: 2007 Federal Fiscal Year Began
November 17-December 4: Thanksgiving Break
December 8: Continuing Resolution Expires
January 3, 2007: First Session of 110th Congress Begins
February 25-28: CWLA National Conference in Washington DC


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