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

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 21: 5/22/2006   
Headlines

House Passes Budget Resolution after Promising Moderates More Money

House Schedules Hearing on Reauthorization of Promoting Safe and Stable Families

Congressional Briefings Held on Juvenile Justice, Delinquency Prevention Funding

Medicaid Proof of Citizenship Changes Could Deny Health Care to Many

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



House Passes Budget Resolution after Promising Moderates More Money

In the early hours of May 18, the House of Representatives adopted a budget resolution for FY 2007 that sticks to the President's overall targets. The vote was 218-210, with eight Republicans and all Democrats voting no. Moderate Republicans agreed to back the resolution after promises from House leaders they would find $3.1 billion for the Labor-HHS-Education allocation. The complication is that this funding could only be realized if other programs are cut.

If the House had not passed a resolution, it would have been the first time in the history of the budget resolution process. Even with the vote, it seems unlikely the House and Senate can find a common resolution. Passage of the House resolution makes it easier for the House to begin debate on the first of its 11 appropriations bills. House Appropriations Chair Jerry Lewis (R-CA) plans on adopting all 11 by the July 4 break.

The House resolution adheres to the President's proposed discretionary budget of $873 billion. Under the President's plan, funding for Health and Human Service (HHS) programs would be cut by $4 billion. To offset that reduction, however, House Republicans agreed to shift $4 billion from defense. The Defense Department is funded at close to $500 billion and does not include all the spending for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The President proposed an allocation for the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, and Labor of $137 billion. The agreement by House leaders is they will find $3.1 billion more in addition to the $4 billion they will shift from defense. Even with both the restoration of funding to $141 billion and the added $3.1 promised, there will still be pressure to cut at least some human service programs as other programs receive inflationary adjustments and increases. The Senate has allocated at least $7 billion more for the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee, and $16 billion to the overall discretionary spending level.

Due to the difficulty of the numbers, the divisions between various factions in Congress, and the upcoming election, it looks more and more likely Congress will adopt an omnibus budget bill after the election. An omnibus budget would roll several appropriation bills into one piece of legislation. An omnibus makes it easier to cut some program,s while others get increases, since congressional rules require that members to vote yes or no on the entire bill.

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House Schedules Hearing on Reauthorization of Promoting Safe and Stable Families

Following up on an earlier Senate hearing on May 9, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources has scheduled a May 23 hearing to review child protective services and reauthorization of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program. PSSF funds programs for family support and preservation, reunification services, and adoption promotion and support. States are required to spend at least 20% in each of the four categories.

As part of the budget-cut package adopted in February, Congress agreed to increase total PSSF mandatory funding from $305 million to $345 million. PSSF can also receive up to $200 million a year in annually appropriated funds, known as discretionary funds, although Congress and the Administration have never fully funded that part of the program. In FY 2006, Congress appropriated $90 million in discretionary funds for PSSF, bringing the total to $435 million for the year.

The key issues for reauthorization have to do with whether Congress will maintain the four categories of services, whether the $40 million increase in mandatory funds will be earmarked or designated for some other child welfare-related need, and whether states should be required to submit annual reports as to how they are spending funds and how many families and children are served. In recent testimony submitted to the Senate Finance Committee, CWLA has supported maintaining the four programs. Depending on the results of this week's hearing, the Senate and House could move legislation to reauthorize PSSF in the next several weeks.

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Congressional Briefings Held on Juvenile Justice, Delinquency Prevention Funding

On May 17, CWLA participated in congressional briefings to urge Congress to reject deep cuts in federal funding for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. The briefings provided congressional staff members information on successful community-based programs funded through the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant and the Title V Community Prevention Grants program.

The briefings were well-attended, with almost 30 staff members hearing from program staff and young people participating in these prevention efforts. Presenters spoke about effective local efforts to engage thousands of youth in a variety of activities shown to be effective at reducing crime and preventing delinquency.

The President's FY 2007 budget proposed to cut funding for Title V in half, to $32 million. Funding for JABG was proposed to be eliminated entirely. The proposed overall cut in juvenile justice and delinquency prevention funding for FY 2007 is 43%. Cuts of this magnitude would have a devastating effect on community efforts to prevent delinquency, reduce crime, and work with young people to keep them on the right track.

The debate on funding is under way in Congress. The next step is for the appropriations subcommittees to pass legislation that will include their decisions on funding levels for these programs and whether to reject the President's proposal. These subcommittees are expected to complete their work over the next few weeks.

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Medicaid Proof of Citizenship Changes Could Deny Health Care to Many

As a result of restrictions included in the Deficit Reduction Act, new requirements on Medicaid recipients could end up cutting off access to health care for many people. The law requires citizens who are eligible for Medicaid to prove they are citizens. The provisions would also apply to children who are in foster care and currently eligible for Medicaid. Under the new provisions, a state would not receive federal reimbursement for Medicaid patients if the state does not have satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship.

The new provisions take effect July 1 and, to this point, HHS has not provided regulatory rules or guidance. The requirement is directed at citizens of the United States and not immigrants. The law defines evidence of citizenship as a passport or other documents HHS specifies through regulation that. A driver's license could only qualify if HHS defines it as acceptable evidence of citizenship. Many of these documents may not be readily available for the Medicaid populations. Individuals may not have a passport or ready access to a birth certificate.

For a detailed analysis of the provisions and its potential impact, the Center on Budget Policy and Priority has a written analysis, available online.

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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

May 27-June 4: Memorial Day Break
July 1-10: July 4th Break
July 29: House Summer Recess Begins
August 5: Senate Summer Recess Begins
September 5: Congress Returns


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