The Senate agreed to a CR extension through February 18, 2022, late Thursday night (November 2) after a week of threats by some Republican senators who objected to the Biden Administration vaccination policies. The House of Representatives reached a deal to extend funding beyond January, as Democrats had originally sought, and they compromised on the February date to move the CR along. Regardless, several senators led by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and freshman Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) threatened to shut the government down over the vaccination mandate policies. In the end they came up short when the prospect of shutting down the federal government over vaccinations during the latest and most threatening COVID-19 variant and the need for ongoing government research and vaccination promotions. It would not have been a good political look.
Thursday night the Senate approved the CR with 69 senators voting yes after a token amendment on vaccinations was rejected by a vote of 50 to 48 with two Republican senators absent. Now the debate over full FY 2022 funding moves to early next year at about the very same time Congress should be receiving the Biden Administration’s FY 2023 budget proposal.
A CR that extends for the rest of FY 2022 means that there would be a spending freeze with all the significant children funding increases washed away. Some in Washington are speculating that the Republican strategy is to have a CR for the entire FY 2022. The one thing that might deter such an effort is that Republicans leaders want Defense Department increases that exceed what Democrats have already proposed. A year long CR means that all funding stays at the Trump Administration funding levels with none of the Biden Administration increases. If they can continue that CR strategy for the FY 2023 appropriations their hope is that they would take over the next Congress with the same Trump FY 2021 budget levels in place.
The House appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) was approved with $253 billion appropriations for the three departments following many of the Biden Administration’s requested increases.
Within CAPTA, state grants receive $125 million, which is $5 million more than the Administration request, and $35 million above the FY 2021 funding level for a program that suffered cuts through most of the last decade when it was at less than $27 million. The House also increased the CB-CAP program to $90 million, which is $10 million more than the Administration request and $30 million more than FY 2021. Finally, discretionary funding increases from the current $35 million to $42 million with $2 million of that for support and expansion of a national child abuse hotline, to increase outreach efforts and provide additional resources and intervention through multiple modalities, including chat, text, and call, to youth and concerned adults facing child abuse and neglect.
Other areas of increase and support for Biden Administration budget include a new $100 million to address racial inequity within child welfare through competitive grants; a significant increase of $9 million for the Family First Act Clearinghouse (up from $2 million) and $30 million for formula grants to states and tribal agencies to develop, enhance, or evaluate Kinship Navigator programs.
Although the House Committee report does not mention the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) and the need for improved efforts on the diligent recruitment of adoptive and foster families, the Committee does increase the Adoption Opportunities Act by $2 million, presumably for the Administration’s $2 million efforts in diligent recruitment for more diverse families for foster care and adoption.
Other items in the FY 2022 budget include a major $150 million initiative to address the social determinants of health (SDoH), building on a proposed expansion of early childhood education with major increases for Head Start ($1.4 billion)—which is $200 million above the Administration request, Child Care ($1.4 billion) and pre-kindergarten state grants ($175 million).
The House ok’d the Administration request for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Infants and Toddlers (IDEA Part C) at $732 million, well above the $482 million pre-pandemic level of funding and an even bigger increase for the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant going to $868 million which exceeds the 2021 level of $712 million.
The House designated $200 million through SSBG for a new diaper bank distribution grant program to provide much-needed resources to social service agencies or other non-profit organizations specifically for diaper and diapering supply needs. CWLA has lent its support to these diaper bank initiatives that had gained important attention during the pandemic. For an overall chart of some key child welfare and children’s program spending levels, go here.
A year-long CR means none of these increases happen, they stay at 2021 levels, and historic gains get wiped away.
Next week the Senate needs to start addressing an increase in the debt ceiling, the passage of the defense authorization with Majority Leader Schumer’s (D-NY) goal to bring the reconciliation bill up the week of December 13.