FY 2011 Funding Battle Moves to the Senate
Next week, Congress will return to Washington, and Senators will take up their version of a continuing resolution that will fund government programs for the remainder of this fiscal year. The House approved its bill last weekend, cementing its proposal for deep cuts in services to children and families.
The final House vote on its Continuing Resolution for 2011was 235 to 189, almost entirely along party lines.
The Senate, along with President Obama’s veto pen, are all that stands between vulnerable young children and the elimination of 368,000 places for them in vital early childhood programs. If the House funding levels prevail, all the gains in Early Head Start made possible by the economic recovery funding would be lost, as more than 50,000 babies and toddlers would be turned out of the program. Thousands of preschoolers would lose Head Start services. And thousands of parents would be left scrambling for affordable, quality child care arrangements, so they can hold onto their jobs. To make matters worse, the House passed cuts in every area needed to nurture healthy early childhood development, including basic supports such as housing, energy assistance, nutrition, and health care. (Click here for an analysis how the cuts affect infants and toddlers.)
Who Will Take a Stand for Children?
The Senate must now act quickly, because current funding for many federal programs will run out on March 4. While Democrats have voiced opposition to the depth of the House cuts, they have endorsed the notion of freezing spending at the 2010 level and signaled that they are open to cuts below that level. House leaders reject even a short-term extension without much deeper cuts, setting the stage for a stand-off and possible government shut-down.
This is where advocates for young children come in. At some point, a deal will be made to keep the government running. It is all too easy for lawmakers to think in terms of spreading the sacrifice, each program taking its share of cuts, and so on, in reaching final spending levels. Our job is to make them understand that “programs” don’t make the sacrifices, children and families do; it is imperative that we help them understand the consequences of the most vulnerable young children shouldering the burden of these cuts.
*Today, you need to tell the Senate to take a stand for children and fund Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care, so no children lose their opportunity to fulfill their potential! *
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Senator Murray receives the award for making babies and young children a national priority.