On Thursday, October 1, 2020, the House approved a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill representing a reduction from their $3.2 trillion passed on May 15, 2020, but higher than the general support the White House has said they would support at $1.5 trillion. The House action was against a backdrop of ongoing discussions between the House Democrats and the White House represented by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Of course, all of that was jolted by the early Friday morning revelation that the President had tested positive for COVID-19. It is unclear how much more focus that news and any related developments will have on both the negotiations and the Senate Leader Mitch McConnell‘s desire to not pass something more than the $650 billion package he had promoted last month.
Both the Administration position and the House bill are higher than the two Senate bills crafted by McConnell, ranging from a July 27, 2002 package of more than $1 trillion to a lower $650 billion proposals that received 52 Senate votes in September.
The $2.2 trillion House revised plan does include some important child welfare related funds included in earlier packages such as provisions of Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act. The House bill includes the $400 million for Chaffee funding (including education vouchers), $10 million for child welfare courts (Court Improvement Program), extended care through Title IV-E for youth that age-out, a 100 percent temporary match for Family First Services, and continued support for kinship navigators programs. The bill also includes appropriations of $100 million more for CAPTA state grants, $225 million for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP), $85 million for Promoting Safe and Stable Families, $75 million for Child Welfare Services.
Other provisions could actually be more important for children and families in and out of the child welfare system: an increase in the Medicaid matching rate for Medicaid and Title IV-E, increasing from 6.2% to a 14%; $9.6 billion for SSBG (for direct state/local relief); $57 billion for child care to rescue a vital family strengthening service; more funding for domestic violence (Violence Against Women Act-VAWA) $375 million; $100 million for Family Violence Prevention grants; $50 million for the victims of child abuse program, $50 million more for suicide prevention; and additional education support include dollars for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Student Act.
Based on general news reports, the White House is not as supportive of the state relief measures. There has also been a back and forth over child tax credits that House Democrats are supporting. It is unclear how Senator McConnell would react to a House-White House deal, but they have generally supported the President on such matters over the past three and a half years.