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

   
   
Vol. 20, Issue 1: 1/2/2007   
Headlines

New Congress Meets This Week

Expect Early Decision on 2007 Spending

CWLA Annual Hill Day and First-Ever Preconference Institute on Advocacy

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



New Congress Meets This Week

The 110th Congress starts officially on January 4 with the swearing in of House members and new members of the Senate. The new House of Representatives will have 233 Democrats and 202 Republicans; the Senate will be divided, with 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and two independents--Joe Lieberman (CT) and Bernie Sanders (VT)--who will organize with the Democrats, giving them majority status.

Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has made all the final committee assignments for Democrats, Republicans were still waiting, as of this writing, to learn about the final determinations on how large each committee would be, which in turn affects the Republican membership. Various subcommittee assignments will be made this week. Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) is expected to be chair the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources--one of the most significant committees in Congress when it comes to child welfare issues.

That subcommittee's name could possibly change. Other committee's may also undergo name changes and some restructuring. The Education and Workforce Committee is expected to become the Education and Labor Committee. Some changes may also take place on appropriations. In the last Congress, the House had decided to reduce the number of appropriations subcommittees from 13 to 11. The Senate reduced its number from 13 to 12. This resulted in conflicting committee structures when the two houses negotiated their differences. This difference is expected to change.

The House leadership announced it will spend the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress on its top priorities, including raising the minimum wage and adopting recommendations by the 9-11 Commission on homeland security. The new leadership has also indicated that the work schedule will change, with votes scheduled for Mondays and Fridays. Over the past few sessions of Congress, the House has avoided votes on those days, enabling Members to stay in their districts longer if they preferred.

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Expect Early Decision on 2007 Spending

The federal fiscal year started October 1, 2006, but the 109th Congress was able to pass only two appropriations bills for FY 2007--for the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense. Before adjourning, Congress passed its last continuing resolution (CR), which extended federal funding for all nondefense/homeland security programs until February 15. The funding level in the CR is set at the lower of the House- or Senate-passed version of each department's appropriation, except for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education. These funding levels are set at last year's level, since neither house adopted a bill for those departments.

The new leadership in Congress has indicated it will extend the CR for the entire year, with two significant changes. Representative David Obey (D-WS) and Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), appropriations committee chairs, indicated they will add funding to key areas such as HHS and Veterans Affairs, while taking out earmarks. The elimination of earmarks may allow some of that revenue to be used to shore up shortfalls in other parts of the budget. The earmarks are unlikely to disappear altogether in FY 2008, but there may be new rules on how earmarks are inserted into legislation and new requirements revealing who is responsible for the legislative directives. Outside critics of Congress argue earmarks contribute to corruption, as there have been record increases in the number of earmarks over the past 10 years.

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CWLA Annual Hill Day and First-Ever Preconference Institute on Advocacy

CWLA's National Conference, Children 2007: Raising Our Voices for Children, will be held February 25-28, and feature the release of CWLA's 2007 Legislative Agenda, an institute on advocacy, and an entire day dedicated to constituent lobbying and advocacy at the U.S. Capitol.

Hill Day gives constituents the opportunity to actively promote CWLA's 2007 Legislative Agenda by meeting with Members of Congress and their staff concerning the issues affecting children, youth, and families. Hill Day begins with presentations by Congressional leaders on their priorities for 2007, and briefings by the CWLA Government Affairs staff. At lunchtime, participants go to specific state and regional caucuses to discuss the issues, talking points, lobbying tips, and more general information. In the afternoon, Hill Day participants take a bus to the Capitol to meet with their Representatives and Senators.

We encourage everyone attending the National Conference to schedule meetings with their Members of Congress for Hill Day beginning in January, after the new 110th Congress convenes. Stay tuned for contact information and tips on arranging visits.

This will be an energizing conference and one of the most important advocacy events for child welfare in 2007! Register online.

As part of the annual conference CWLA is conducting a special institute on local advocacy, "Create Change: New Strategies and Lessons Learned Around Local Level Advocacy", to be held on Sunday, February 25 from 1-5pm. This institute will be dedicated to developing effective messages, and creating and testing different approaches to advocacy. Guest presenters will discuss how to craft successful local messages and initiatives based on recent analysis. Create Change will be a great opportunity for child welfare advocates to develop local level strategy and messaging.

For more information about Create Change or Hill Day, contact Cristina Fahrenthold at cfahrenthold@cwla.org or 202/942-0257.

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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

January 3: First Session of 110th Congress begins
January 30: Possible date for State of the Union Address
February 5: Release of the President's 2008 budget request
February 15: Continuing Resolution expires
February 25-28: CWLA National Conference, Children 2007: Raising Our Voices for Children, in Washington, DC


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