Before the Labor Day weekend, the Senate confirmed Lynn Johnson as assistant secretary for family support at the Department of Health and Human Services. In her new role, Johnson will oversee more than sixty federal human service programs.

This week, lawmakers returned to Washington to begin addressing several pressing priorities: The Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh; multiple appropriations bills, including the Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bills; and legislation that includes the farm bill and multiple bills addressing the opioid crisis. Additionally, of interest to many Alliance for Strong Families and Communities members is the public charge rule.

Appropriations

There is growing interest and momentum to conclude appropriations by Sept. 30. A commitment to finalizing a Labor-HHS-Education package was expressed by Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  

On Sept. 4, the House announced its Conference Committee members who will finalize the Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bills for fiscal year 2019. Rep. Robert Aderholt, author and presenter of the Aderholt amendment, is among the conference committee members. Consistent with the Alliance’s position statement on the amendment, we will continue to monitor the amendment and provide updates as needed and may activate the Alliance network if the amendment seems to gather momentum during conference.  

The House and Senate met Wednesday to review a draft of the final Farm Bill. The current Farm Bill expires Sept. 30, placing pressure on lawmakers to negotiate two very different proposals from the House and Senate approved separately earlier this summer. A majority of both the House and Senate conferees must approve the final bill before it goes to the full Congress and then to the president.  

In advancing our collective voice, the Alliance joined two coalition letters that oppose portions of the more restrictive House version of the bill and request adoption of the Senate Farm Bill Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provisions during the conferencing session. The first letter was drafted by a coalition of national organizations and submitted by FRAC (Food Research and Action Center). The second letter, drafted by a coalition led by the SAFER Foundation, more specifically addressed limitations and impact on returning, formerly incarcerated, individuals and will be sent to the hill on behalf of the Reentry Working Group.

September arrived with little mention of the proposed “public charge” rule; however, we anticipate interest around this change to escalate as we head into the fall and election season. Public charge is defined as a person who is primarily dependent on the government for more than half of personal income. When determining whether one will be classified as a public charge, immigration officials assess factors like age, health, financial status, education, and skills.  

Recently Proposed Legislation

This week the Alliance has inquired about, is incubating positions/statements for, and wants to share the following:  

H.R. 6691 - Community Safety and Security Act of 2018 - To amend title 18, United States Code, to clarify the definition of “crime of violence,” and for other purposes. Introduced in the House Aug. 31, 2018 and referred to the House Committee on rules for discussion this week. Led by Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.)  

If you have a particular position or interest in any of these listed, or there are others on you radar, email the Alliance Office of Public Policy and Mobilization

View more public policy news  and sign up for the weekly Alliance Policy Radar online.