At one point last week, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, dropped a suggestion that maybe an FY 2021 appropriations bill could be attached to a final COVID-19 bill number 5. A final bill would take a lot of consensus on spending levels using the old budget caps. It would seem more likely that Congress will come back in September and pass a continuing resolution to get funding beyond this year’s election.
On Friday, July 31, 2020, the House passed HR 7617 a second “mini-bus” legislative package that included six more appropriations bills and, when combined with the previous week’s action, meant that the House had passed the ten of twelve appropriations bills. The House has not passed appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security or the Legislative Branch. The Senate has not acted on any of the 12 bills. The House Appropriations includes funding for the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations with those three departments receiving $196 billion in discretionary (annually appropriated) funds for the three federal departments. HHS receives approximately $96.4 billion of that total.
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) did not get the $270 million for state grants and $270 million for the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP) state grants advocated for by CWLA and the National Child Abuse Coalition. CAPTA state grants did get an increase to $92 million ($2.5 million increase), $63 million for CB-CAP (an increase of $7.5 million) and $37 million for discretionary funds with the $2.5 million increase designated for a demonstration project related to the implementation of a new and innovative approach to serving children providing trauma-informed interventions.
While the increases are disappointing for advocates, if these higher increases are finalized, they represent progress. CB-CAP had not received a funding increase since FY 2005 and had been cut, but it has now received increases two years in a row. CAPTA similarly has received funding increases for four years since being frozen or cut between 2005 and 2016.
The Adoption Opportunities program received level funding of $42 million. The bill also includes $75 million for adoption and subsidized guardianships, which is the same level as 2020. The funding should help states catch up on past shortfalls.
There were few additional increases with child care set at $5.9 billion, a slight $100 million increase. Head Start was increased by $150 million to $10.8 billion.
Advocates, including CWLA, seek $50 billion in COVID-19 relief funds to keep child care facilities open and avoid the permanent closure of child care centers and providers across the country.
The committee-passed bill did add $9 billion in emergency funding for the CDC in addition to its current CDC level of funding at $8 billion. As emergency funding, the added dollars do not count against the overall caps. The Labor Department received $12.7 billion, which is an increase of $2.5 billion, with the biggest boost to state unemployment systems getting $900 million more. All of these are areas and programs that have been targeted by advocates, including CWLA, for much bigger increases in the upcoming COVID-19 bill that is expected to be taken up by the Senate this week. The House is in the process of bundling the 12 appropriations bills into combined bills of three or for departments into what some people call “mini-bus” bills.
For a chart of spending on some key child welfare related programs, go here.