What’s happening in Washington…..

The discussions in Washington continue to be about a Continuing Resolution (CR) and when the House and Senate will agree and vote to avoid a government shutdown and keep the federal government operating, at least until mid-December. Recent events have caused the House to debate whether or not to attach military language to the CR to authorize the training and equipping of Syrian rebels against the Islamic terrorist group, or to have a separate vote on the authorization.

Last week the House released a version of a CR that would keep funding essentially unchanged from the October 1, 2014 through December 11, 2014. Majore items included in last week’s version was an extension of the current funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the temporary ban on state and local taxation of internet access under the Internet Tax Freedom Act, and the Export-Import Bank charter.

Another large item on the agenda is to decide whether or not to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant program (S 1086). The $5.2 billion program distributes funds to states to provide childcare subsidies for low-income families. The legislation, if passed, would require states to establish educational, health and safety standards that must be followed by all childcare providers that receive federal funding. In addition, states must set aside 10 of the funds to enhance the quality of care provided to children and reserve 70 percent of the funds for subsidies directly to the child care facilities. The legislation would also require criminal background checks for all child care staff and try to increase the information available on care options to help encourage parents to make more informed choices.

UPDATE: The House passed the Child Care and Development Block Grant last night, it is now being sent to the President to sign.

In addition to the most important CR vote, a number of committee hearings are also scheduled this week including,

  • A Senate Finance Committee hearing on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),
  • A Senate subcommittee hearing on implementation of the surface transportation law (MAP-21), and
  • A House Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee hearing on implementation of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) pilot projects, and
  • A Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on the implications of proposed legislation (S 132) that would admit the District of Columbia as the nation’s fifty-first state.

Sarah Curry

Sarah Curry is Director of Fiscal Policy Studies at the John Locke Foundation.

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