Pages tagged "Child Abuse & Neglect"
Looking back over our work in 2013, First Focus Campaign for Children created a number of resources for child advocates, policymakers, the media, and the public highlighting both the challenges and opportunities that confronted children throughout the year.
The following is a list of our top downloaded 2013 resources relating in children’s policy at the federal level:
- “Champions for Children 2013” (Ad – Child Advocacy): The First Focus Campaign for Children places a priority on supporting legislators who stand by our nation's children. Our Champions and Defenders of Children awards recognize the top 100 Members of Congress working to make children and families a national priority in federal policy and budget decisions
- “Strengthening Our Mental Health System: The Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act” – Shadi Houshyar (Blog - Child Health and Child Welfare)
- “Senate Committee Immigration Amendments At-A-Glance” – Wendy Cervantes (Fact Sheet - Immigration): On May 9, 2013 the Senate Judiciary Committee began markup of S. 744, and this fact sheet highlights those amendments that FFCC has determined could positively or negatively impact children and families. S. 744 was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 21, 2013 on a 13-5 vote.
- “Little DREAMers Have Big Dreams” (Ad - Immigration): This ad appeared in the special children's issues insert of The Hill's June 5, 2013, edition. On the eve of Senate floor consideration of comprehensive immigration reform legislation, it urges support for an amendment to give all children access to a five-year citizenship path.
- “House Vote Today Would Defund Children’s Health on October 1” – Ed Walz (Press Release – Child Health): The House of Representatives, in their zeal to defund the Affordable Care Act, drafted legislation in a manner that would have “inadvertently” slashed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) on October 1, 2013, by 70 percent.
- “Hungry Children Lose if House Cuts Nutrition Funds” – Ed Walz (Press Release – Child Nutrition): Due to an estimated $40 billion in proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the Farm Bill, First Focus Campaign for Children advocated for members to vote against the legislation.
- “Tick Tock: Kids Stand to Lose Billions on March 1” – Madeline Daniels (Blog – Child Nutrition)
- “Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (NELP) Separated Children Act” – Wendy Cervantes (Fact Sheet – Immigration and Child Welfare): Although this fact sheet is originally from 2011, it continued to be downloaded in 2013 because it explains the positive implications of the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act, introduced by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) in implementing critically needed reforms to protect children, families and communities impacted by immigration enforcement.
- “How Did Children Fare in the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) Immigration Reform Mark-Up?” – Wendy Cervantes (Blog – Immigration)
- “Immigration Enforcement Policy Change a Win for Kids” – Ed Walz (Press Release – Immigration): This press release reacted positively to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) release of a set of policy reforms designed to reduce the harm to children and families resulting from immigration enforcement actions against parents. These reforms, collectively referred to as the “Parental Interest Directive,” represent a major advance for children and ensure that immigration enforcement measures are implemented in a responsible and humane manner.
- “Homeless But Not Hopeless: Students Redefine What It Means To Be Homeless” – Brianna Gross (Blog – Housing, Education, and Family Economics): http://ffcampaignforchildren.org/news/top-of-our-list/homeless-but-not-hopeless-students-redefine-what-it-means-to-be-homeless
- “Bill Attempts to Ban Seclusion and Restraint” – Brianna Gross (Blog – Education, Child Health, and Child Welfare)
- “Voters Want Budget Solutions That Protect Children” – Ed Walz (Press Release – Child Advocacy): This document releases the results of a First Focus Campaign for Children commissioned nationwide poll of American voters on a variety of children’s issues from American Viewpoint.
- “The Foster Children Opportunity Act: Guaranteeing a Bright Future for Foster Youth” – Shadi Houshyar (Fact Sheet – Child Welfare): The Foster Children Opportunity Act (H.R. 2036), introduced by Rep. Beto O’Rourke, seeks to ensure that abused and neglected immigrant children have an opportunity to obtain the legal immigrant status to which they are entitled prior to aging out of the foster care system.
- “Fix the Family Glitch: Letter to the President and Congressional Leaders” (Letter – Child Health): This letter, signed by over leading national, state, and local advocates concerned about the health and well-being on America's children, calls on the county's leaders to fix this "family glitch," and make sure the test to determine coverage is affordable for a family is based on the share of income it costs to cover an entire family and not solely on the cost of coverage for an individual employee.
- “Representative Steve King Introduces Bill That Harms America’s Children” – Kevin Lindsey (Blog – Immigration)
- “Blumenthal, Murkowski File Bipartisan ‘Little DREAMers’ Amendment” – Ed Walz (Press Release – Immigration): This press release applauded U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for filing a bipartisan amendment to strengthen the DREAM Act provisions of the Senate “Gang of 8” comprehensive immigration reform bill. The senators’ “Little DREAMers” amendment would eliminate obstacles that deny younger children a five-year path to citizenship, which is available through the underlying bill to older children and young adults.
- “Hungry Children Win With House Farm Bill’s Loss” – Ed Walz (Press Release – Child Nutrition): The U.S. House of Representatives voted 195-234 on June 20, 2013, to reject the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (H.R. 1947, colloquially the House “Farm Bill”), legislation weakening federal investments in child nutrition. First Focus Campaign for Children expressed support, as the legislation would have cut SNAP by $20 billion.
- “Let’s Protect Our Children” (Ad – Budget): This ad calling on Congress to protect critical investments in our children including early childhood, education, and nutrition from upcoming budget negotiations ran in the Jan. 11, 2013 print edition of Politico.
- “Budget Plan Would Cut Children’s Health Funding by 70% in Two Weeks” – Ed Walz (Press Release – Child Health): A stopgap budget measure in the U.S. House of Representatives would have cut funding for the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by 70 percent on October 1, 2013, according to the bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus Campaign for Children. The joint resolution (H.J.Res. 62), authored by Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA) was blocked in the U.S. Senate.
Washington — Today, the First Focus Campaign for Children, a national bipartisan children’s advocacy group, recognized 100 Members of Congress for leadership on issues important to children during 2013.
“Lots of politicians talk about kids’ issues, but few back it up,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the Campaign for Children. “Champions and Defenders delivered for kids.”
The advocacy organization recognized as “Champions for Children” 50 Members of Congress for their extraordinary efforts to protect and improve the future of America’s next generation. An additional 50 Members were recognized as “Defenders of Children” for their support of policies that advance the well-being of children.
In selecting Champions and Defenders, the First Focus Campaign for Children noted leaders who introduced, co-sponsored, and voted for legislation to meet children’s needs. In addition, the organization considered Members who demonstrated extraordinary initiative by spearheading activities such as sponsoring hearings or garnering the support of their colleagues to improve the health and well-being of children. The 2013 Champions and Defenders are:
2013 Champions for Children
Champions for Children made extraordinary efforts to protect and improve the future of America's next generation.
Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA)
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA)
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA)
Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL)
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)
Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Rep. Gene Green (D-TX)
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY)
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL)
Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX)
Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN)
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Rep. George Miller (D-CA)
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX)
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA)
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
2013 Defenders of Children
Defenders of Children supported efforts to advance policies to improve the well-being of America's children.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Del. Donna Christensen (D-VI)
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)
Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
Rep. David Joyce (R-OH)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Rep. Peter King (R-NY)
Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI)
Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI)
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA)
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ)
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)
Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)
Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA)
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA)
Rep. José Serrano (D-NY)
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Rep. David Valadao (R-CA)
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
This is the Campaign for Children’s fourth annual class of Champions for Children. For more information about past honorees, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.
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With Congressional negotiators working to finalize a short-term budget deal, a new national poll shows strong bipartisan support for children's initiatives. The survey, completed by the Republican polling firm American Viewpoint, underscores voters' concerns about the well-being of today's children and their future prospects. It also demonstrates voters' strong bipartisan support for tax policies that lift children out of poverty, initiatives to prevent child abuse and neglect, and other investment's in children.
The Foster Children Opportunity Act (H.R. 2036) seeks to ensure that abused and neglected immigrant children have an opportunity to obtain the legal immigrant status to which they are entitled prior to aging out of the foster care system. Introduced by Congressman Beto O’Rourke, the bill amends Title IV of the Social Security Act in order to require states to screen all undocumented immigrant children currently in the child welfare system for eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). SIJS allows undocumented children who are under 21 years old and unmarried to remain in the United States legally, as well as work and be eligible for financial aid and in-state tuition for college. After five years, they may also apply for U.S. citizenship.
What would you do if your child came home covered in bruises and cuts, maybe even a tooth knocked out? Oh, that’s a normal day for my child, you think, roughhousing on the playground, kids will be kids, that sort of thing. But what if you found out that those injuries were inflicted by a teacher?
How about if you found out that your child missed history, math, and English class because she was locked in a room alone for three hours, with no bathroom breaks, no surveillance, and no supervision?
In 2010, over 40,000 students experienced this sort of treatment and almost seventy percent of those students have disabilities. Referred to as “seclusion and restraint,” it is perfectly legal in most states. Children who are victims of seclusion and restraint suffer from physical injuries, trauma, and some are even killed or commit suicide. Seclusion is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as the “involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving.” The rooms are often old storage rooms, and the windows are covered, or the room is in the basement of the school where no one can hear the child who is locked up. Seclusion is different from a timeout because a child in timeout is supervised by an adult and is not locked into the space. Restraint comes in three forms: physical, mechanical, and chemical. According to the U.S. Department of Education, physical restraint is when a student is personally immobilized, such as when a teacher physically holds a child to the ground or against the wall. Mechanical restraint is when a device is used to restrict a child’s movement, such as when a teacher ties a child to a chair. Finally, chemical restraint is when medication not prescribed by a physician is given to the student to restrict the student’s ability to think and function.
On May 8, 2013, Congressman George Miller of California reintroduced a bill to prohibit the use of seclusion and all mechanical and chemical restraints. It would also prohibit the use of physical restraints unless in an emergency situation. Called the Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 1893), this bill is a huge step in improving children’s rights and safety in schools.
The Keeping All Students Safe Act is based on the fact that seclusion and restraint have no empirical evidence of improving behavior in children. Instead, oftentimes these techniques arouse the child and cause the behavior to escalate. Think about it. If a child does something wrong, perhaps she strikes out at a teacher, physically pinning the child to the ground or against the wall only reinforces the idea that physical violence is the only way to solve problems. If an adult reacts physically to the disruptive behavior of a child, it is only expected for the child to try to fight back. With restraint, it is almost impossible to avoid a struggle and the risk of someone getting hurt. Furthermore, these techniques are reactive rather than preventative. They do not attempt to get to the root of the problem and find out why the child is acting out so that the behavior can be prevented in the future. This results in the disruptive and possibly dangerous behavior continuing.
Instead of seclusion and restraint, it is generally agreed upon that Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) are more effective in improving a student’s behavior. According to Dr. Daniel Crimmins, Director of the Center for Leadership in Disability, and Professor of Public Health at Georgia State University, in his testimony at the Senate hearing, Beyond Seclusion and Restraint: Creating Positive Learning Environments for All Students, to stop bad behavior the teacher must first understand why the behavior is occurring in the first place. Once the trigger for the behavior is discovered, the teacher can then try to prevent the bad behavior. For example, perhaps a student acts out by knocking over a chair because she is unable to sit still for long periods of time. If the teacher takes a moment to find out that the student is simply unable to sit still, he can give the student a pass to quietly leave the room for a few minutes, or perhaps stand up in the back of the classroom. By accommodating the different needs of the students, violent behavior can be prevented from happening in the first place. Finally, with this better understanding of the child, the teacher can teach the child more appropriate ways to cope with the difficult situation. For example, the teacher can teach the child techniques to use that are more appropriate than flipping over a chair when the child gets frustrated or angry.
Some states have already successfully banned the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. Georgia, for example, banned all schools in the state from using seclusion, and banned all restraint only with the exception of emergency situations. Georgia has replaced these techniques with Positive Behavioral Systems (PBS) and the Georgia Department of Education has trained over 350 schools to implement PBS. It has been in effect and considered successful for the past three years.
Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories is a film that documents the testimonies of four individuals who were restrained and secluded when they were in school, as well as the testimonies of two parents whose children were restrained and secluded. Hearing twelve year old Jino Medina speak about how he was put in a seclusion room for hours at a time and tackled to the ground by his teachers, causing him to suffer a brain injury, makes this issue even more urgent. Then there’s the story of Helena Stephenson who attempted suicide after she was restrained and forced to spend thirty-five consecutive days in the seclusion room in the basement of her school.
The Keeping All Students Safe Act is beneficial for all children, but it is of utmost importance for children with disabilities. In most states, teachers are allowed to physically assault children because of their disabilities. The mentality in public and private schools is that children with behavioral disabilities are dangerous and not teachable; that they do not matter and can be shut up in a room for an entire day instead of learning in a classroom. If this is the expectation for students with disabilities, it is no wonder that they act out in school. All students deserve to be guided and taught, and given a chance to succeed—not pinned to the ground and shut out of sight and out of mind. Since there are other techniques proven to work, there is no excuse for restraint and seclusion. Restraint and seclusion hurts children, and it should no longer be excusable in today’s school systems.
Washington – As Congress debates immigration reform, 175 state and national organizations led by the First Focus Campaign for Children today endorsed the Foster Children Opportunity Act (H.R. 2036). The bill, introduced today by Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas-16), increases the likelihood that immigrant children removed from their parents’ custody because of concerns about abuse or neglect will be protected by immigration law benefits already in place.
“The Foster Children Opportunity Act ensures that kids who came into the foster care system due to abuse or neglect don’t have to live in fear of deportation as adults,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
In 2008, Congress created a special nonimmigrant status in federal immigration law. This Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) allows children brought to the United States, then placed in foster care by state governments to protect them from abuse or neglect, to remain lawfully in the U.S. Children granted SIJS are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after five years. Thousands of undocumented immigrant children are living in foster care, nationwide.
SIJS is not well known to child welfare agency officials or to judges and other court officers. As a result, many eligible children never get SIJS protections. If they do not obtain SIJS or other immigration relief options before age 18 (or, in some cases, 21), these children must either surrender for deportation to a country they barely remember or remain unlawfully in the U.S. Those who remain cannot get jobs or a college education and are often forced underground because they can’t get driver’s licenses or other identity documents.
“Immigration law already promises kids victimized by abuse or neglect a chance at a productive life, but for too many, it’s an empty promise,” said Lesley.
“Foster children are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. There are thousands of abused and neglected undocumented children in the child welfare system at any given time and many of these children will slip through the cracks without obtaining the legal status to which they are entitled,” said Congressman O’Rourke. “This legislation will offer relief to undocumented immigrant foster youth who have no family members in the U.S. and cannot safely be return to their country of origin.”
Congressman O’Rourke’s Foster Children Opportunity Act makes the existing immigration law work better for child abuse or neglect victims, by creating complementary protections. It authorizes federal agencies to inform state child welfare agencies and court officials about SIJS, and it requires child welfare agencies to screen immigrant children in foster care for SIJS eligibility. It clarifies that the federal government will reimburse state and local governments for costs they incurred providing care for kids who qualify for SIJS. And it ensures that SIJS-eligible children can qualify for federal health, nutrition, and other benefits without the five-year waiting period imposed on other immigrants.
The First Focus Campaign for Children led more than 175 state and national organizations in commending Congressman O’Rourke for introducing this important legislation. The text of their endorsement letter and the complete list of signatories are attached below.
“We thank Congressman O’Rourke and his colleagues for working together to give immigrant kids living in foster care a fighting chance at leading healthy and productive adult lives,” 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 a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.
The First Focus Campaign for Children coordinated more than 175 national and state organizations in support of the Foster Children Opportunity Act, sponsored by Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D-TX). The bill would improve the effectiveness of immigration law protections already available to immigrant children who are child abuse or neglect victims.
Washington – The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today approved an amendment sponsored by Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to strengthen protections for children in the Senate “Gang of 8” comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744). The amendment was cosponsored by Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Democratic Senators Chris Coons (Del.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), and by Republican Senators John Cornyn (Texas) and Ted Cruz (Texas). The Franken-Grassley amendment would keep families together whenever possible and help mitigate harm to children, including preventing children from entering foster care when immigration enforcement results in the detention or removal of their parents. Specific Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections for Separated Children Act (“HELP” Separated Children Act) provisions would:
- Allow parents affected by immigration enforcement to make calls to arrange for the care of their children;
- Ensure that children can call or visit their parents while they are detained;
- Allow parents to participate in state child welfare agency and family court proceedings affecting their children;
- Ensure that parents being removed from or voluntarily departing the United States can coordinate their repatriation with their children;
- Require immigration officials to consider the best interests of children in detention, release, and transfer decisions affecting their parents; and
- Provide training for immigration and detention facility personnel on best practices for protecting children.
The amendment was passed on a unanimous recorded vote of 18-0. In response, First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley released the following statement:
“Immigration enforcement tears children and parents apart. But the bipartisan Franken-Grassley amendment helps protect kids and keeps families together. The Franken-Grassley amendment will let immigration officials focus on law enforcement, state child welfare agencies focus scarce resources where they’re most needed, and give kids a better chance at staying with their families.”
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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.
Washington -- The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, today commended the U.S. House of Representatives for passing legislation to minimize the academic disruptions facing children who are moved from one school to another. The Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA, S. 3472), sponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), grants child welfare caseworkers access to the school records of children placed in foster care under the state’s legal custody.
“Kids in foster care already face extra hurdles in school, so we should be doing everything we can to advance reforms like the Uninterrupted Scholars Act and eliminate obstacles to their success,” said Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
The Campaign for Children sent a letter endorsing the House legislation in June 2012, and worked with the Senate sponsor to secure legislative support for floor passage. Children in foster care are moved from home to home and school to school more often than other children. When child welfare agencies cannot access school records, children are often left without the means to bring those documents to new schools, because foster parents may not be legal guardians entitled to records access. This results in repeated classes and slower academic progress. Research shows that children and youth in foster care have lower academic achievement, graduation rates and college completion rates than their counterparts. The bill amends the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to ensure students’ privacy while giving their legal guardians access to information essential to minimizing educational disruptions associated with changing schools.
The Uninterrupted Scholars Act earned bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. It had been passed by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate in mid-December, so yesterday’s House passage (also by voice vote) clears the measure for President Obama, who is expected to enact it.
“Senator Landrieu, Congresswoman Bass, and the other Republican and Democratic lawmakers who supported this important legislation have delivered an important reminder that politicians can rise above partisan divides to solve problems that matter to real people,” said Lesley.
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