Last month, an amendment to the House Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill was passed by the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations that would establish a barrier to having services and supports aligned with the broad and unique needs of each child in the system. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), would prohibit state or local governments that receive federal tax dollars for child welfare services from discriminating against child welfare provider organizations, “on the basis that the provider has declined or will decline to provide, facilitate, or refer for a child welfare service that conflicts with, or circumstances that conflict with, the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

This week the Senate is proceeding toward a floor vote on the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. This bill passed out of the Senate committee without containing similar language to the Aderholt Amendment. We are now waiting to see if a similar amendment will be introduced during the full Senate floor vote. As of now, this seems highly unlikely, as 40 Senators have signed in opposition to such an amendment.

If the Senate passes its Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill without the amendment in it, then when the bill is conferenced between the House and the Senate later this year, three groups are expected to oppose its inclusion in the final bill and only one group is expected to support it. A final, conferenced appropriations bill will likely not pass until later this fall – perhaps not even before December. Read the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities statement on the Aderholt Amendment.

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