Senate “Labor-H” Appropriations Bill Invests in Kids
Washington – The bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus Campaign for Children sent a letter today urging members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to support the committee’s draft federal fiscal year 2014 appropriations bill for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies. The “Labor-HHS” appropriations bill authored by Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) would, as the letter observes, restore recent cuts to critical children’s initiatives and strengthen investments in key priorities.
“Chairman Harkin’s plan recognizes that the only way to build a stronger tomorrow for children is by providing the things they need to succeed today,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
Automatic federal budget “sequestration” cuts reduced investments in children by more than $4 billion in 2013 alone. Since 2010, federal “discretionary” budget cuts have cost children nearly $6 billion. The committee’s Labor-HHS bill is part of an overall appropriations allocations package that would replace sequestration, restore cuts to kids and make targeted investments in America’s future. The Senate bill would benefit specific children’s priorities, including early education, K-12 education, and primary health care. The bill would also finance a new State Paid Leave Fund, intended to help states create initiatives that allow working parents remain employed while managing a child’s illness or other family emergency.
By contrast, the comparable U.S. House of Representatives funding allocation would cut investments in children by more than 22 percent from pre-sequester federal fiscal year 2013 levels. While the House has not yet released Labor-HHS appropriations language, the letter observes that applying this cut proportionally throughout the bill would mean cuts to education for children with disabilities, schools serving military families and Native American children, health and nutrition for pregnant women, new moms, and their babies, and less funding to protect children from child abuse and neglect.
“Yes, the federal government has budget problems, but children didn’t create them, and Chairman Harkin recognizes that denying kids the help they need to grow and thrive is the wrong way to solve them,” said Lesley.
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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 the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org .