After a brief government shutdown, the second in three weeks, Congress passed its fifth continuing resolution (CR) to continue funding the government until March 23, 2018, giving them time to work out a catchall omnibus bill to fund the government for the remainder of the 2018 fiscal year. Simultaneously, it passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal that raised spending caps for two years; increased spending to defense and many health care and children’s programs; and extended vital programs like the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, Community Health Centers, and extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) four more years. The bill also gave funding for disaster aid. However, while there were many wins in last night’s deal, the fight for Dreamers to receive protection continues.
The bipartisan budget was a big win for programs that build and restore well-being for children and families and a signal that Congress is beginning to understand the importance of family supports, health prevention, and care programs and how impactful the first few years of life is on human development and potential. This could represent a helpful change in thinking, as work requirements added to government health and nutrition programs are increasingly being discussed. Lawmakers need to understand that the ability to work requires the presence of comprehensive workforce supports and programs designed to help current and future workers achieve their full potential.
Here is a list of extensions and spending increases that will have a positive impact on children, families, and communities:
- Extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for an additional four years (10 years in total to 2028)
- Reauthorizing the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program for five years
- Reauthorizing Community Health Centers for two years
- Providing $5.8 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) over two years
- Providing $6 billion to combat opioid abuse and improve mental health
- Providing $90 billion topline funding for hurricane and wildfire disaster aid, including much needed money for Puerto Rico (including $4.9 billion in Medicaid for Puerto Rico)
Prior to the Senate adjourning just before 2 a.m., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a procedural vote for Monday on shell legislation that will be used as the vehicle for the chamber’s debate on immigration, and was introduced today, in hopes of landing on a deal to protect Dreamers. However, similar activity will not occur in the House. The DACA bill protecting Dreamers expires on March 5, 2018.
The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities will continue to analyze the budget agreement for how it will impact children, individuals, families, and communities as well as the nonprofit human services sector. The president’s 2019 budget is still expected to come out on Monday, which will be taken into account for our analysis.
Read more about the deal from national media:
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