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

   
   
Vol. 24, Issue 1: 1/10/2011   
Headlines

New Congress Convenes

Budget Battle Begins Anew

House Set to Approve Repeal of Health Care Law

Register for CWLA National Conference, Attend Advocacy Day

Key Upcoming Dates



New Congress Convenes

The new 112th Congress has officially convened. New Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) took the gavel from new Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and in the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) retains his post as has Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

There are 94 new members of the House, many of whom have never held elective office. This presents all of us with an opportunity to educate them regarding child welfare issues. One effective way to do this is to arrange for visits to your agencies. We encourage all CWLA members to invite members of Congress and especially the new members to your programs, discuss the issues and challenges faced by you and the families you serve, and build a relationship with them. We in the CWLA Government Affairs division can support your efforts with technical assistance, materials, consultation, and other information. Please let us know how we can be helpful.

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Budget Battle Begins Anew

Because Congress failed to achieve consensus on the fiscal year 2011 budget before adjourning for the year in late December, another continuing resolution (CR) was passed to keep government agencies and services running through March 4, 2011. That ensures that finishing up the FY 2011 budget will be among the first priorities of the 112th Congress. With Republicans taking control of the House and Democrats maintaining control of the Senate, it could be a contentious and partisan process.

To recap, before adjournment the House passed a year-long CR that would have flat-funded most programs but did contain meaningful increases for Head Start, child care, and food assistance programs. Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) then drafted an amendment to add approximately $20 billion to the House-passed bill, including additional funding for Head Start, child care, and early learning. However, in the face of unanimous Republican opposition, the Senate lacked the required 60 votes in favor of either Inouye’s amendment or the House-passed year-long CR, necessitating passage of the short-term CR through March 4, 2011 to avoid a shutdown.

Republicans have more leverage in negotiations now that they are the majority party in the House, and it is likely that they will be pushing further spending cuts. While the House-passed CR already would have cut $46 billion from President Barack Obama’s proposed FY 2011 budget, several Republican leaders have proposed even deeper cuts by rolling back non-defense discretionary spending to 2008 levels.

House and Senate leaders will be negotiating an end to the budget stalemate in advance of the March 4th expiration of the CR, but the outcome of those discussions is still very far from clear.

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House Set to Approve Repeal of Health Care Law

On January 5, Representative Eric Cantor introduced Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act (H.R. 2). This legislation builds off of one the Republican’s campaign promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148). H.R.2 is expected to be coupled with a resolution calling for committees with jurisdiction over the ACA to craft replacement legislation that will foster job creation by "eliminating job-killing policies and regulations," prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions, provide protection for health care providers, give states greater flexibility to administer Medicaid programs, and expand incentives to encourage personal responsibility for healthcare coverage and costs.

The first vote on this legislation is expected to take place on Wednesday, January 12. General consensus is that both the bill and the resolution will pass, but little action will be taken in the Senate. Furthermore, there are huge discrepancies in the actual budgetary impact of the ACA. Last year the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the health reform law would reduce deficits by more than $100 billion over the first 10 years and by roughly $1 trillion or more over the second 10 years; therefore, its repeal could increase deficits by those amounts. Recently the CBO came out with a score on the Republican’s bill to repeal the law that increased the deficit by $230 billion. House leadership will likely ask the CBO to rescore the repeal legislation once new budgetary rules are finalized.

CWLA and other advocacy groups are reaching out to all members of Congress to encourage them to oppose any efforts to repeal provisions in the ACA that enhance the health and well-being of vulnerable children and families. Many of these groups have worked tirelessly to ensure that the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was preserved, Medicaid expanded to provide continued support for former foster youth as well as other low-income populations, and federal funding provided to support home visiting programs, all of which are in jeopardy with the current efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid maintenance of effort requirements under the ACA, early periodic screening, diagnosis, and treatment services, Medicaid eligibility for former foster youth, and other general Medicaid expansion efforts are also threatened.

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Register for CWLA National Conference, Attend Advocacy Day

Add your voice to CWLA's at our next national conference March 27-30, 2011. Registration is now open, with "early bird" rates available through January 30. This year's theme is The State of Children and Families: Building an Effective National Voice. The conference features a full day of in-depth professional institutes, more than 60 focused workshops, a revitalized Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, a PRIDE train-the-trainer three-day training, and a new town hall session to share the challenges and celebrate the successes of today's child welfare field. New this year is a special spouse rate for husbands or wives who don't want to miss DC at its loveliest during cherry blossom season.

Advocacy Day will be held in the middle of the national conference, on Tuesday, March 29. CWLA's Advocacy Day is the largest national advocacy event of the year for child welfare advocates and CWLA encourages all conference attendees to go to Capitol Hill and carry the message for the children, youth, and families you serve. Another new feature this year is a special reception on Capitol Hill to hear from key Congressional leaders on priorities for children and families policies in the new Congress.

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Key Upcoming Dates

- January 25: State of the Union address.
- Mid-February: President releases proposed budget for FY 2012.
- March 4: Continuing Resolution on FY 2011 expires.
- March 29: CWLA Advocacy Day during National Conference.

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