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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 12, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT

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quorum call:
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mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i'd ask that the quorum call be set aside. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: i'd also ask unanimous consent the pending amendment be set aside and i be allowed to call up adam 2812. the presiding officer: is there objection. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from wyoming proposes amendment numbered 2812. mr. enzi: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: thank you, mr. president. when the childcare and development block grant program was first created back in the 1990's it was seen primarily as a way to help parents enter the work force or get job training. the program which is
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administered by the u.s. department of health and human services gets about $5.2 billion a year in federal funding, plus state matching funds, although fy 2014 appropriation is approximately $2.4 billion. the last reauthorization of this program took place nearly 20 years ago. this bipartisan cdbg reauthorization, the mikulski-burr-harkin-alexander, puts a greater emphasis on the quality of the childcare programs children are entering. the bipartisan bill would refocus the program on quality, not just access. the legislation emphasizes the protection of vulnerable populations, incentivizing self-sufficiency and individual responsibility. the bill also improves coordination among federal early childhood education programs. as a block grant, states have a great deal of flexibility in how they administer this child
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development block grant. funds that are generally required to help health, safety and quality guidelines, promote parental choice, assist parents in becoming independent through work promotion, and provide consumer information so that parents can make decisions about their child's care. the money helps states provide grants to low-income parents to cover the cost of childcare and aftera.o.l. school care. tip -- after-school chair, typically parents can use at a voucher 35eur7b9s can use at the childcare center of their choice. my amendment requires the secretaries health and human services and education to carry out an interdepartmental review of all learning and childcare programs administered by the federal government. we have lots of them. we all agree that the funding invested in early education programs saves taxpayers money down the road. so for a long time the federal government has been doing a lot to increase access to these
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important programs. federal support for early learning and childcare developed over time to meet emerging needs but at this point multiple federal agencies administer this important investment through numerous programs. what my amendment does is ask health and human services and the department of education to report back to congress with a plan for eliminating duplication and overlap as well as a plan with ways we can streamline these programs. every year the government accountability office, g.a.o., submits a report to congress with recommendations for ways to reduce duplication, overlap and fragmentation in intergovernmental programs. in its 2012 annual report to congress, g.a.o. recommended the department of education and health and human services should extend their coordination efforts to other federal agencies with early learning and childcare programs to combat program fragmentation, to
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simplify children's access to these services, to collect data necessary to coordinate operation of these programs, and to identify and minimize overlap and duplication. g.a.o. identified 45 early learning and childcare programs funded by the federal government. 12 of these programs explicitly provided only early learning or childcare services. these 45 programs are administered by multiple agencies, including department of education, department of health and human services, department of agriculture, department of the interior, department of justice, department of labor, department of housing and urban development, the general services administration, and the appalachian regional commission. when i was chairman of the help committee, the late senator ted kennedy and i worked to eliminate duplication and overlap in programs under our jurisdiction.
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got it down from about 119 to 69 but could not look at any of the programs administered by other agencies. we knew there was room for streamlining programs at other agencies but we couldn't work on it which was frustrating, and shows how far-flung these programs are. let me report again, the 45 programs administered by multiple agencies -- that includes not only education but health and human services, agriculture, interior, justice, labor, housing and urban development, general services administration, and the appalachian regional commission. now, you got to believe we ought to be able to do some consolidation there and save some money and improve the quality of the programs while we're at it. in recent g.a.o. report issued on february 25, 2014, the g.a.o. noticed -- noted that as of december, 2013, education and health and human services has taken initial steps toward greater coordination but had not yet included all federal agencies that administer these
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early learning and childcare programs in their established interdepartmental work group. this amendment takes a further step in identifying fragmentation, overlap, duplication and inefficiency in the numerous learning and care programs beyond the government administration's organization report. streamlining programs to eliminate duplication is essential for program integrity and good governance. but also for eliminating service gaps for eligible children. we're doing a lot. we can do better with less through coordination and getting it down to where there are lessorses and less places that there has to be permission, regulation, and oversight, and we can do better for the kids. and all we're asking for with this is to come up with a plan. it doesn't force anything but hopefully it's a plan that we'll
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pay attention to, not just put it on the shelf. i thank the chair and yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: mr. president, first i want to thank senator enzi for again working with us for a long time on the committee to put this bill together, and thank him for this amendment. it's basically in g.a.o.'s 2012 annual report it noted that the department of education and health and human services should be increasing their coordination efforts in dealing with childcare and early learning programs. and what this amendment does is it would require them to collaborate, conduct a comprehensive review of the 45 programs that currently support early learning and childcare across the country. and this would ensure better coordination, reduction in duplication and effective programming for children. i want to say to my friend from
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wyoming that on monday i was in iowa in my home state in des moines, visiting a early learning center. on saturday i was in ames visiting an early learning center in preparation for this bill to be on the floor and monday when i was meeting with everyone there and all of the different funding streams that come through and all of the different cross purposes. i finally said stop a minute. i'm confused. they said if you're confused, so are we. so even the people running the programs have all -- everything has some different thing that they've got to fill out the paperwork for, to qualify for this. so i'm particularly sensitive to the senator's amendment having just tried to wade through all that just a couple of days ago in iowa. i thank my friend from wyoming,
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it's a good amendment and it should be adopted and i certainly support the amendment. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. burr: mr. president, i also want to applaud my colleague, senator enzi. this is a needed amendment, makes the bill better, and let me just note for my colleagues that most recently in the 2014 omnibus appropriations legislation created two new programs including the early head start child career partnership grants funded and the race to the top pre-k programs funded at 250. i just point these out because both of these further undefine the interactions that might exist with the current programs. and i think any attempt -- i would think this would be an administrative responsibility to find ways to consolidate, but clearly this is a case where
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more is not better, and this provides instructions -- it requires the secretary to look at all these programs and despine -- to find ways to consolidate in a way that provides a better outcome for those who are the beneficiaries. i urge my colleagues to support this amendment and i would also say to my colleagues through their staffs that it is probably the intent of the senate to have some votes about 2:30, i think there's notifications going out on both sides but i want members to be aware of that. we're trying to accommodate the afternoon schedules of both sides of the aisle on commits they have, one at the white house and a members' meeting on ukraine this afternoon. so it is our intent right now to have up to two votes by 2:30 this afternoon. that's 15 minutes. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: might i ask the
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senator from iowa, north carolina, is it likely given the good progress we're making we may be able to have another vote or two between 5 action -- 5:00 and 5:30 so as not to interfere with briefings many senators are attending at 5:30? mr. burr: it is probably our intent right after the ukraine briefing to hopefully be in a position -- excuse me, right before the ukraine briefing that we would have the opportunity to dispose of about two additional amendments. mr. alexander: that would be two votes at 2:30 and two more probably about 5:15. mr. harkin: i concur. mr. alexander: i thank the senator from iowa and north carolina. i thank the senator from wyoming for his leadership, for a number of years he has been the ranking member of the health, labor, education and pensions committee. he's been there, his focus on trying to spend his money more
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efficiently. sometimes we forget that head start is not the only early program we have in the country. it's the most famous, it's best known, it's very popular with most people. it's about $8.6 billion. but the bill we're debating today is another -- the childcare block grant is another $5.3 billion, two-thirds the size of head start, affects a million and a half children, and then there are another $5 billion or so of federal funding for early learning and early childhood. now, without getting into a debate about what we should have new programs or not i think there's a consensus among most of us that we should at least start by taking the money we're spending for early childhood and spend it wisely. one step we took few years ago was to create centers of exlen exceller
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head stamplet this was 2506-200. the governor of each state would be permitted to pink a pick at t two communities or cities where they were doing the best job of spending in a coordinated way money for early learning and childhood development. not only are these $18 billion federal dollars being spent, but many states have additional funding for recalll early child. most states have kindergarten programs. many states have programs for 3- and 4-year-olds. the idea was to see if we could encourage, say, nashville, denver, des moines, to take a look at all the dollars for all the children between 0-6 and all the dollars being spent, public, private, federal, state, and local, and see who's doing the best job of putting that all together. it is always a problem in a big,
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complex country like this when you have a decentralized government. children do not live in silos. so the center of excellence was a modest beginning to try to encourage the better spending, what is up to $18 billion of money already being spent. and i think senator enzi's amendment, which i strongly support, would give us more information about how to better spend the federal dollars we already spend for early childhood. and i simile wanted t simply wao the attention of the senators and others who may be paying attention, we had excellent testimony in the committee chaired by the senator from iowa, the representative from denver, who had one of the early centers of excellence, and she talked about the progress
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they've made in taking all the available money and putting it in the most effective way toward the chin. so i hope as we -- toward the children. so i hope as we move along toward of process of dealing with how don' do we do a betterb of early childhood education, that we consider early childhood centers of excellence. i hope senator enzi's amendment is adopted because it will make us a better steward of taxpayer dollars and that means we're doing a better job of helping children. i thank the president and yield the floor. mr. harkin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: on behalf of senator landrieu, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up her amendment 2108. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from iowa, mr. franken, for ms. l.a.n ms-- for ms. landrieu -- mr. harkin: i ask that the
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reading be set aside. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk: mr. harkin proposes for mr. franken proposes amendment numbered 282. mr. harkin: i ask that the further reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that at 2:30 p.m. today, the senate proceed to votes in relation to the following pending amendments in the order lists: endisee amendment number 2812 and franken amendment number 2822, furthering that no second-degree amendments be in order to either amendment prior to the votes. the presiding officer: is there objection to the request sp?without objection. harass harold like to modify my unanimous consent that the second vote be a 10-minute vote. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
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mr. harkin: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. franken: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. frank mr. president, i rise in strong support of the child care development and block grant act -- the presiding officer: the senator is reminded -- trapping frank oh, mr. franken: oh, i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: i rise in strong support of the child care
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development and block grant program, cdbg, and to urge my colleagues to support the amendment that senator murkowski and i have put forward. our amendment would help strengthen cdbg by making sure we're addressing some of our nation's communities that will benefit most from it. the people who are members of tribes or tribal organizations all over this nation. american indians experience exceptionally high unemployment levels cared with the rest of -h the rest of the nation. furthermore, native american youth experience some of the poorest educational outcomes in america. these are exactly the sort of challenges ccdbg is designed to address. our amendment would lift the current ceiling on tribal child care funding so that ccdbg can go to where the funds are needed
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most. this would enable more funds to flow to tribes and tribal organizations without reducing the amount that goes to states. the amendment specifies that the amount of ccdbg funds reserved for tribes only rises if the overall funding level for ccdbg goes above its current levels. i want to thank our cosponsors, senators murray, thune, hirono, baldwin an heitkamp for their support of this amendment. i want to thank senators harkin and alexander and mikulski and burr for working together to bring this bill to this point. thank you very much, and i would yield to my colleague from north carolina. mr. burr: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. burr: mr. president, i rise in strong support of the amendment. i urge my colleagues, this is a reasonable improvement to the
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bill, and i think senator franken stated it very well. this amendment increases the amount of ccdbg funding set aside for tribes from not more than 2% to not less than 2%. sounds like a big difference -- or not much of a difference. but this has a tremendous impact on the predictability of tribes, the dollars that are going to be available to them. so i would urge my colleagues to support the franken-murkowski amendment. i yield the floor. mr. harkin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i just want to join with senator burr in supporting the amendment.
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the presiding officer: the question occurs on amendment 2812. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 98, the
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nays are zero, and the amendment is agreed to. the senator from tennessee. the senate will be in order. mr. alexander: motion to reconsider. a senator: i move to reconsider the vote. and lay it on the table. mr. alexander: madam president, i want to ask something about the schedule. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. alexander: i want to ask the senator from iowa, the senator from north carolina and senator mikulski about the schedule for this bill. we're off to a fast start. we have the franken amendment to be voted on now. and this is my understanding of the schedule, and i want to see if i have it about right and then ask the chairman and the four managers if it's right. we expect there to be a colloquy from 3:00 until about 4:00 by several senators on the childcare development block grant. then at 5:15, we expect to have a vote, at least one vote and may accept others by voice and maybe have some nominations. senators who have other
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amendments are free to come and talk between 4:00 and 5:00. we would expect to have other votes tomorrow before lunch and finish the bill, it is my understanding, if there -- if we don't run into a snag, right after lunch tomorrow, about 2:00 or 2:15. now, that's the course we hope to be on. i want to thank chairman harkin and senator mikulski and senator burr for getting us off to a fast start. we have had about 20 amendments from both sides brought forward. we have been able to deal with them all. is that about right in terms of the schedule? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: yes, that sounds exactly how we are proceeding. i want to thank the senator from tennessee for all the good working and the cooperation we have had on both sides on this. i think we're on a good path. i just reiterate and re-emphasize if anyone has amendments that they want to offer and talk about, i would say between 4:00 and 5:00 is a good time to do it today. then we'll have two votes
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probably at around 5:15. we're hoping maybe one could be voice voted at that time. do you have anything? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the question is is -- occurs on amendment 2822. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not the yeas are 93, the nays are 6. the amendment is agreed to. mr. burr: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. burr: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that max friedman, an intern in senator inhofe's office, be granted
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floor privileges for today's session. the presiding officer: without objection. bur bier mr. burr: i yield to my colleague, senator mikulski. ms. mikulski: now you're going to see the women of the senate on a bipartisan basis speaking up on the issue of child care. we have worked long and hard together, and i'm going to withhold my time and really turn to the gentlelady from nebraska. and what you want us to realize, we are not a caucus. we disagree on many things, but on child care, we are united that this bill is a good bill. it could be improved through the amendment process. we recognize it. so here we are as a force trying to change the tone, trying to change the tide, and really help america's children. senator fischer. mrs. fischer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to speak about the reauthorization of the child care and development block grant
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program, and i thank the senator from maryland for her courtesies. in addition, i would like to address an amendment that i proposed to the underlying bill. promoting policies that enable job creation is a basic duty of the people's government. this bill that we have on the floor before us now provides low-income, hardworking mothers and fathers with the opportunity to have quality child care while they earn a steady paycheck or if they go back to school. americans work hard. they work hard to provide for their families and to make a better life for their children. as mother and grandmother, i understand that knowing your children are safe and secure is essential to maintaining a steady job. we need to encourage responsible adults to enter and to maintain their presence in our workforce. that's why i appreciate my
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colleagues' work and their compromise on this bipartisan legislation. i also appreciate how this effort has helped to bring some regular order back to the processes of the united states senate. i especially want to recognize senators barbara mikulski, lamar alexander, and richard burr, who i know worked very hard in a collaborative and in a bipartisan fashion in order to get this bill to the floor. as part of that process, i filed a proposed amendment that i have with senators king and senator rubio to the child care and development block grant reauthorization. our bipartisan amendment is a commonsense solution to the f.d.a.'s overregulation of low-risk health information technology, and that includes mobile wellness apps, scheduling software and electronic health
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records. under current law, which was established in 1976, the f.d.a. can apply its definition of a medical device to assert broad regulatory authority over a wide array of health i.t. including applications that do not pose a threat to human safety. our amendment allows the f.d.a. to keep its focus on regulating medical devices while creating a modernized oversight framework for low-risk categories of health i.t. since proposing this amendment, i have had the opportunity to speak with senator alexander, the ranking member of the senate help committee, and i am happy to say that he has expressed an interest in that amendment. and that's identical to the language introduced as a stand-alone bill called the protect act. so i look afford to having the
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opportunity to work with him and committee members to advance the core ideas included in the protect act, because i believe, with the guidance of the committee and with the guidance of other senators, we will be able to achieve another bipartisan success in this chamber. at senator alexander's request and in response to his kind offer to work collaboratively on the protect act, i have agreed not to formally offer this amendmenamendment to the bill tn the floor. but i do look forward to working with the senator from tennessee and others to improve upon that. again, i want to thank the leadership of senator mikulski, senator alexander, senator burr on the important legislation before us today. i thank them for their work. i thank them for their courtesies in allowing me to rise and speak on this very important amendment, and i also thank them and look forward to
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working with them on the protect act in the future. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: i now yield tiff e minutes to the gentlelady from new york, another cosponsor of the bill, senator gillibrand. mrs. gillibrand: i'd like -- the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mrs. gillibrand: i'd like to start by thanking senator mikulski for championing the reauthorization of the child care and development block grant program, which is a bipartisan bill that reflects the values of this country. it serves more than 1.5 million children nationwide every month, including over 1240,0020,000 chn in new york state alone. i want to thank senator harkin for bringing this legislation through the imheet and to the floor. everywhere i go in my state of new york, i listen to families and hear the exact same sense of struggle frl every singl from ee of themin them, that they're dog
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everything they can to get by and give their kids the best chance to succeed. but no matter how hard they work, making ends meet is difficult. their paychecks stay the same or sad did i are diminished while expenses go up. as a result, too many families feel they cannot get ahead. for our economy to get going again to have the face -- it has to face the reality that the face of the american workforce has changed. we still have workplace policies that reflect the realities of decades ago in the 150's and 1960's. but in fact today 48% of the workforce in my state is women. in order for us to unleash the full potential of our economy, we have to recognize that women are the new, more often,
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breadwinner of too many families. for that reasoning, we have to focus on an immovable reality for working mothers: and that's child care. today more women are going back to work sooner after having a child, creating a greater demand for the affordable child care thathat allows them to stay in their jobs. a two-parent family in new york spends an average of 16.5% of their annual income to care for a an infant. for a single mom in new york, the cost was greater than 57% of her income. if you can't afford child care, as many middle-class families can't, and you don't have a family option, the choice you are left with is to leave your job and stay home to care for your child. that means less income for working families, more women
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leaving the workforce, and a weaker middle class. it doesn't have to be this way. we can keep more working mothers in their jobs and more children in quality day care when we make it affordable. our policies must reflect today's reality that women have to work for a living. it is not a lifestyle choice for most working mothers; it is a fact of survival. that's why i support senator mikulski's outstanding bill because it will make affordable -- will make day care more affordable for millions of children every single year. it is also why i'm a cosponsor of senator boxer's amendment that will double the child-care tax credit families can take and make it refundable. making the tax credit refundable would help those who are working and struggling the most but don't earn enough to use the tax credit. it means more savings going right back into the pockets of working families. i also have an amendment that
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will make middle-class tax cuts better for child-care expenses. it will let them deduct the cost of child care as a business expense. this proposal, called child care deduction, will allow you to deduct up to $14,000 a year for child-care expenses for two kids or more. and that makes perfect sense because in new york the average day care for a toddler is $12,000. for ann faints it' an infant, it $15,000. this will go a long way to make sure our hardworking middle-class families have the funds they need to froir their kids. i yield my time. thank you, madam chairwoman. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: i yield five minutes to the gentlelady from michigan, also a sister social worker, and a real advocate for good nutrition in children. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you very
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much, mr. president. first, like everyone else, i want to congratulate our leader on this issue and on so many issues, including having the right kind of appropriations process to invest the dollars that americans work hard to earn, to make sure they're invested in ways that help families, children, to help the middle class to be able to succeed in this country. i want to thank senator barbara mikulski, the senior senator from maryland. her work on this issue, the child care and development block grant, has been extraordinary. it has been bipartisan, as all of her work is. and she is laser focused on doing those things that create opportunities for children and families to succeed. i think all of, certainly the women that are speaking today and hopefully all of our colleagues understand, mr. president, that quality
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affordable child care is not a frill. i realize that the presiding officer has wonderful children as well and understands that this is a necessity. if we care for our children, if we want to make sure that we're able to work, put a roof over their head and food on the table, to be able to buy their school clothes and get them what they need, to be able to save for college, to be able to do all the things we want to do for ourselves, our children, our families, that the cost of child care are part of that equation, being able to do those things for our families that we need to do. and the average cost of child care for two children is $14,872 a year. i heard from my friend and colleague from new york that it was higher in new york. i'm sure it's higher in many, many places. but on average across the country, families are having to come up with almost $15,000 a
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year, which, by the way, equals, if you're working minimum wage, a 40-hour workweek working full time for a year. think about that. if you're in a minimum-wage job and you're working right now -- and hopefully we're going to change that by raising the minimum wage. but if you're in a minimum-wage job and you're trying to make it and you work for a year, that's about the average child care cost for two children. that's why this is so important, this investment in families and children is so important. this is the highest household expense for many, many families. and in most states a year of day care is more expensive than a year of tuition at a public university. so we're all talking to parents. we're all worried about saving for college. i think now -- i have three small grandchildren. how can i help be a part of that process of saving for college?
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and yet a year of day care is more expensive than a year of tuition at a public university. this is just too much for many, many of our families to afford. very, very difficult choices are being made, choices that families are agonizing over. this is especially unaffordable for so many hardworking families who are just trying to climb the ladder of opportunity, just trying to get into the middle class or maybe just holding on by their finger tips trying to stay in the middle class. and that's why we have a child care and development block grant, to help families be able to afford a necessity as something that is critical for our society, which is having safe, affordable, quality child care for our children. this is a critically important program signed into law by president george h.w. bush that
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1.6 million children every month rely on. 1.6 million children in our country and their parents rely on this every month. states use this funding to help low-income families gain access to quality affordable child care and after-school programs. these families are trying to make ends meet, make sure their children have the opportunities that they need to be successful. and i want to stress that this funding goes to parents who are working, are working, are training for work or are enrolled in school. i believe the reason we have strong bipartisan support is that people understand how critical it is to be supporting these families. this is an investment in our families. it's an investment in america's moms, moms and dads. 65% of moms work outside the home. and in fact if they go back to work, they're earning in michigan only 74 cents on every
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dollar. they don't get a discount on their child care, by the way, just because women are only getting three-quarters of a salary. somehow they're still paying the full price. but this is particularly critical for women across america. this program helps millions of families, as i indicated, especially moms, especially moms get back to work without having to worry about whether or not their children are going to be safe. talk about peace of mind, this is a peace of mind legislation for moms and dads to make sure their children will have a quality place, affordable place and a safe place to be while they are working to earn a living for their families. it's now been 24 years since this law was signed by president bush, 18 years since it was last reauthorized, and it's time to update it to reflect the
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changing conditions and challenges for our families. this bipartisan reauthorization addresses issues facing families who need child care. it improves program quality, making sure funds go to families in need, make sure children in child care get the things they need to succeed, good nutrition so critical for their growth, physical activity, well-being by developing guidelines and incorporating health and wellness training for professional development, making sure children's needs are addressed when kreurpb -- children have disabilities. very, very important for them and their families. making sure all child-care providers are properly trained to care for children and have been screened. that means first aid and c.p.r. and how to prevent sudden infant death syndrome and child abuse and undergoing a background check. the bottom line, this is a bill that we need to pass. i am very grateful and
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appreciative of the bipartisan support that has gotten us to this point. the 45 national organizations who support it, including the after-school alliance, the american professional society on the abuse of children, the national association for family child care, teach for america, united way worldwide, so many others. and i urge and am pleased to join with all my colleagues in urging that we pass this as quickly as possible; and again, congratulations to our leader who has gotten us to this point and i know will get it all the way through the process, the senior senator from maryland. i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: thank you. i now yield the floor to senator baldwin of wisconsin, one of our newest members but not new to this issue. her record in the house on advocacy for children is well known and well respected. senator baldwin. the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: thank you.
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thank you, mr. president. thank you, madam chairwoman. in america, we know that quality education and a fair shot at work is the path to the middle class, and economic security and getting ahead. and today we have an opportunity to make an important bipartisan action to help strengthen that path to the middle class. for many families in this country, quality affordable child care is a challenge that they struggle with every morning. this is why president george h.w. bush signed the child care and development block grant into law in 1990, to ensure that working families have access to quality affordable child care. and today i join a bipartisan group of my senate colleagues in
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calling for reauthorization of the child care development block grant act. because of the support it provides working families across this country and across the state of wisconsin, my home state. i want to thank help committee chairman harkin and ranking member alexander and senators mikulski and burr for their work across party lines to move this important legislation forward. this bipartisan work is an endorsement of our shared responsibility to build a strong path to the middle class that begins by investing in affordable child care and high-quality early learning programs. i'm proud to say that wisconsin has long been a leader in investing in our children early. education for four-year olds was part of wisconsin's constitution
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in 1848, and the first kindergarten in the united states was founded in water town, wisconsin, in 1856. wisconsin is nearing universal 4-k with over 90% of schools offering kindergarten for four-year olds. my state has recognized the importance of effective collaborations to support early childhood care and education. the wisconsin early childhood collaborating partners is a statewide partnership representing over 50 public and private agencies led by wisconsin's department of public instruction with the goal of providing every child access to comprehensive delivery system for high-quality education and care. i'm proud that my state has
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undertaken a community approach to implementing high-quality child care and early education. more work remains to be done, however, both in wisconsin and nationwide to ensure high-quality child care and education is accessible to every family. our nation continues to recover from the most severe economic downturn since the great depression. and as our country continues this recovery, families have had to get by with less. americans are in need of affordable child care now more than ever. my home state of wisconsin is no exception to this trend. today many parents are in the workforce, including over 70% of mothers in wisconsin. for many hardworking middle-class families, child care is necessary but also expensive. for millions of families in the united states, child care is
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their single largest household expense at nearly $15,000 per year. in wisconsin, the cost of child care for an infant is approximately 40% of a single mother's median income. two-parent families can expect to spend more than 10% of their income on child care. further, in wisconsin, nearly a third of children receiving the child care development block grant funding are under the age of three, making this a truly sound investment in those crucial years of early life. the child care development block grant act is a bipartisan effort to reauthorize, reform and revitalize the block grant program by strengthening federal safety standards and placing a greater focus on the quality of
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child-care programs. this investment in affordable quality child care will help more than 1.5 million children, including over 30,000 children in wisconsin. mr. president, i'd like to once again thank my colleagues for working in a bipartisan manner to guide us in reauthorizing this vital legislation. high-quality child care and education is essential to the future success of our children and our overall success as a nation. i'm proud to support this legislation as it focuses on improving the quality and safety of child-care programs, focuses on supporting infants and toddlers with high-quality care and he reflects the realities of working families in this difficult economic environment. but as importantly, i am proud to join a bipartisan effort here
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in washington that is squarely focused on both parties working together to build a stronger future for our middle class. i yield back. ms. mikulski: thank you very much. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i would now like to ask unanimous consent to make pending two landrieu amendments, number 2813 and number 2814. the presiding officer: is there objection? the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from maryland, ms. mikulski, for ms. landrieu proposes amendments en bloc -- ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: i ask unanimous consent that the reading of those two amendments be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: thank you very much, mr. president. mr. president, i would like to now note that on the floor are
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three outstanding senators who wish to speak on this. senator cantwell, senator murkowski and then senator collins. they come as the dean of the republican women. i ask unanimous consent that they be allowed each to speak for five minutes in the order i just stated: cantwell, murkowski and collins. the presiding officer: without -- without objection. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i want to thank senator burr and senator mikulski for their leadership on this bipartisan issue, but certainly senator mikulski for her constant leadership on making sure families in america are cared for. this is important bipartisan legislation, and the reauthorization of this legislation, the childcare development block grant of 2014, will help ensure that families have access to quality, affordable childcare. the childcare and development block grant program serves more than 1.6 million children per
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month nationwide, and in my state it serves more than 39,000 children per month. with the support of these grants, parents can work, look for work, participate in job training programs while their children receive affordable childcare at quality centers or in the child's home. the childcare development block grants are primary source of federal support for childcare assistance, and they play a key role in promoting healthy development in children, especially at young ages. research on the effects of early childhood development has continually shown that the foundation provided by early learning and childcare networks can prevent the achievement gaps at a young age. this bill enables states to invest in the programs that are proven to work for children and families. in washington, more than half of the children served by childcare development block grants are younger than 4 years old, so in my state these grants are vital
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for preparing our youngest children with the support and skills they need to stay ahead once they enter into kindergarten. as professor katherine booth leitman forest at the university of washington said -- quote -- childcare affects sirn that for a society at large even small effects are important." end quote. this bill would provide an additional 22,000 children across our nation with childcare. that's a major effect. expanding access to quality care can help thousands more children across the nation get a running start on school by preventing achievement gaps for our youngest children, we are creating successful students in building a skilled work force for the future. this bill allows washington to make the important investments in our youngest learners and in our future economy. so i'm so proud to be here in support of this bipartisan effort, and again i want to thank senator mikulski, senator burr and others for working
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together at a time when people didn't think that this level of compromise could result in such an important piece of legislation moving forward. so i want to thank the dean of the women senators, senator mikulski, for this evident and encourage my colleagues to support this bill, 1086, and make sure that we get it passed before the end of this week. i thank the chair. i yield the floor. ms. murkowski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: i, too, join my fellow women senators on the floor to speak in support of the bipartisan childcare and development block grant act of 2014. i, too, commend senator mikulski, senator burr on their leadership in truly developing a bipartisan bill as we're moving forward. they have worked diligently, they have worked in a positive and a constructive manner that i
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think does credit to the senate operations here. i also want to recognize and commend senator harkin and senator alexander as they have brought this bill through the committee and onto the floor here. this legislation, i believe, walks that line between asking the states, our tribes and providers to plan out ways to improve childcare quality without actually dictating who and how and the what aspects of -- every aspects of childcare. what it really does is strengthen the ways in which providers can combine ccdbg, head start, title 1 and idea funds to serve more kids, and if we can serve more kids, that's all good. it asks them to take an updated look at how they serve children with disabilities and how they will address nutrition and fitness and health and safety issues, but it will continue to let them figure out the best
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ways to achieve the goals, and that really does make sense. in addition, as a result of the bipartisan nature of how this bill has come together, alaskan voices were heard on this. alaska concerns about several provisions in the original draft of the bill were addressed. for example, states which will be required to perform health safety and fire inspections may delegate to qualified agencies those inspections that require specialized expertise. that helps us in alaska. the community report clarified that state's disaster preparedness standards includes specific mention of children with disabilities and family reunification. i was pleased to work with my colleague from hawaii, senator hirono, to make sure that the bill managers included the technical amendments that she had requested that ensured that native hawaiian children were not inadvertently left out. so thank you again to senators
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mikulski, burr, alexander and harkin for accepting those amendments that have made this bill that much better. mr. president, ensuring that families and children are well served by the childcare that they pay for, in part with ccdbg assistance, this is an important task before the congress, because this is not just about daycare or early learning, as important as those topics are. the fact is that access to high-quality, safe and affordable childcare is really the key component. and we're talking about those things that build strong economies and strong american communities. it allows parents to get the education or the training that they need to qualify for a good job. it allows them to accept and keep a good job that will help pay those bills. it helps employers hire qualified employees who are then able to work, and it helps the children get the foundation that they need, both academically and
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socially to be prepared to succeed in school and life. getting ccdbg child funded up to speed for the 21st century is a key element in addressing income inequality and the deep recession that is still present for so many low-income american families, and this is especially true for american indian and alaskan native families. american indians and alaskan natives experience exceptionally high unemployment levels compared to the rest of the nation. i think you know this, mr. president, from your state. in many regions of alaska, unemployment among our native people is more than double the statewide rate. in the lower 48, unemployment on our indian reservations was at approximately 50% in 2012. we also know that early -- that high quality early education can have an important positive effect on unfortunately the very
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difficult academic and social outcomes that we -- that we can see with our american indians and our alaska native children if they don't have some of these foundational opportunities before them. so increasing these families' access to quality early education can have an important positive effect on these kids by improving the academic outcomes and their economic opportunities and really bringing hope to the community. so i thank senators on the floor for supporting the amendment that we just had in front of us. senator franken and i had offered the tribal setaside. this change which moves from a ceiling to a floor will provide tribes with an opportunity to work with h.h.s. to receive additional support for the childcare opportunities that are so needed in indian country. so, mr. president, i'm proud of the work that we are doing here in the senate this week. we could have hotlined this bill and passed it by unanimous consent, but i think the path that we have taken is the right
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one by bringing the bill to the floor, giving each member the opportunity to be heard on ways to improve the bill and holding votes on amendments in the regular order is the right thing to do. so i applaud madam chairman, those who have worked so hard on this, and i look forward to this bill as we seek its conclusion. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. ms. collins: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i'm pleased to join my colleagues this afternoon in expressing support for the reauthorization of the childcare and development block grant program, and i, too, want to commend senator mikulski, senator burr, senator harkin, senator alexander who are crafting this bipartisan bill and bringing it to the senate floor for debate and amendment. mr. president, childcare for
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working parents is essential to families throughout the nation, and maine is no exception. for years, the ccdbg program has assisted low-income parents in affording childcare. the support provided by this important program enables parents to obtain needed care for their children so that they may work or improve their own skills and education. 2,600 children from 1,800 maine families receive federal childcare subsidies through this program, particularly during these difficult economic times. this program goes a long ways in helping families in maine and across the country.
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mr. president, i have seen firsthand the impact of high-quality early learning on a child's ability to succeed and grow. educare in central maine, located in waterville, which i visited a few years ago, is a state-of-the-art early learning center that serves more than 200 mostly low-income children from birth to age 5. almost half of these children come from families that are eligible for assistance, and many rely on the ccdbg voucher to help cover the cost of their attending educare. educare is a great example of quality childcare in my state and of the real impact of this
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program's funding at work in our communities. mr. president, as i saw at educare in waterville, the vouchers provided under this program allow parents to choose the best childcare setting for their children. that is the critical aspect of this program. vouchers give parents the flexibility that they want and need to make the best choice for their children about the kind of care that best serves their needs, whether it is at a childcare center, at a family care home or with a relative or friend. the voucher program helps to keep the decisions in the hands of parents. i'm also pleased that this reauthorization requires
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coordination among the early learning advisory councils and head start and the idea programs that serve children with special needs. aligning these programs will help to improve the quality of all services offered for infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children. mr. president, high-quality early learning experiences help ensure that children are well prepared for school. this bill improves the current program by making sure that those providers receiving funding are equalified to receive training and are regularly inspected and monitored. i also want to express my gratitude to the members of the health, education and labor
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pensions committee for including in this legislation provisions from the childcare infant mortality prevention act. that's a bill that i introduced with the senator from california, dianne feinstein. according to the centers for disease control and prevention as well as the american academy of pediatrics, half of the approximately 4,500 sudden infant death syndrome cases in the united states are entirely preventable with effective training and implementation of correct sleep practices. i am very pleased that this reauthorization includes sudden infant death syndrome prevention and safe sleeping practices among the new health and safety training topics for providers.
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mr. president, childcare is not only important to the developmental health of our children but also to the well-being of their parents. when parents know they have a place to go that where they will be safe, where they will learn, then parents have the peace of mind to earn a living to support their families. balancing the need to work with the need for childcare can be very difficult. at times, a parent's salary would be almost completely offset by the cost of childcare in a low-income family. this bill will help more parents get the support that they need while reinforcing the requirement for high-quality care and healthy


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