Congress Approves Money for Zika, Opiods; Advocates Continue Push for Flint Funding
Washington – Congress yesterday voted to pass a continuing resolution (CR), a stopgap measure that prevented a government shutdown.
“The government funds so many programs that are crucial for kids,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children. “While we are glad that a government shutdown has been averted, we know that a full budget deal is better for kids. A long-term spending package ensures funding for services that are critical to support and improve the well-being of America’s children.”
Two areas critical to kids’ health came through in the short-term deal: funding that will begin to combat the Zika virus and the opioid epidemic:
- $1.1 billion to combat the spread of the Zika virus was included for through fiscal 2017 as emergency funding. The Children’s Budget Coalition, of which First Focus Campaign for Children is a member, called on Congress to prevent millions of pregnant women and children from being at risk in a letter sent to Congress on September 14, 2016.
- $37 million was included to fund programs authorized by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) to combat the opioid drug epidemic and support kids in families struggling with addiction. This includes $20 million for programs through the U.S. Department of Justice and $17 million for programs through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The departments are authorized to issue grants to states, localities and American Indian tribes for opioid abuse programs.
However, the short-term deal does not include funding to address the problem of lead in places like Flint, Michigan. There is no safe level of lead for children, yet millions continue to be exposed to it in their water, soil, and homes.
“It is unacceptable that Congress continues to delay funding to address this ongoing crisis,” said Lesley. “We must ensure that families and communities affected by lead poisoning receive support as soon as possible. Our kids have waited long enough.”
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.campaignforchildren.org.