House Takes Up Child Care Funding Bills

WASHINGTON — The House last week took up three bills that would provide help for child care providers or parents returning to work.

The first, HR 7027, was passed on a vote of 249 for and 163 against. It would appropriate $50 billion to help child care providers stay in business during the pandemic so that parents can return to work. The funding would be used to subsidize in-home services as well as licensed child care operations of all sizes, and it could be used to prop up functioning centers or reopen those forced to close because of the pandemic.

Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., opposed the bill. “Child care is essential as parents begin returning to the workplace; however, this bill spends too much taxpayer money and places an undue and unworkable regulatory burden on facilities, federal agencies and, yes, on families,” he said.

Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., said the bill is needed because “nearly half of all child care providers have closed at some point during this pandemic, and those that have reopened are facing increased costs to implement new safety measures.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate. Here’s how area representatives voted:


Voting yes: Terri Sewell, D-7 

Voting no: Bradley Byrne, R-1, Martha Roby, R-2, Mike Rogers, R-3, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Mo Brooks, R-5, Gary Palmer, R-6 

Not voting: None

Defeating GOP Child Care Alternative

The House on a 195-212 vote killed a package of proposed Republican changes to HR 7027 (above) that sought, in part, to qualify unlicensed child care sites run by churches and public camps to receive grants under the bill and require grant recipients to demonstrate competence in recognizing and addressing child abuse.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said the proposed GOP changes would “ensure we are focused on recognizing and addressing child abuse and neglect.”

Johana Hayes, D-Conn., said that because they are licensed, providers eligible for funding under the bill already would be trained in identifying and reporting incidents of child abuse.

A yes vote was to approve the GOP child care plan.


Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer 

Voting no: Sewell

Not voting: Rogers

Expanding Tax Credits for Child Care

The House also on Wednesday voted 250-161 to pass HR 7327, which would make the child and dependent care tax credit fully refundable; create a new tax credit to help child care providers pay rent, mortgage and utility costs; guarantee $10 billion per year over five years in infrastructure grants to help child care centers address health hazards such as mold, lead paint and inadequate ventilation; designate child care personnel as “essential workers” eligible for benefits including pay bumps because they perform a hazardous public service during the pandemic, and reimburse these essential workers for their own childcare costs.

At present, households filing federal tax returns can claim a child and dependent care credit of up to $3,000 per child 12 years or younger or $6,000 for two or more children in the same age range. In addition, they can claim a $3,000 or $6,000 credit to offset the cost of caring for spouses or dependents older than 12 who are mentally or physically incapable of self-care. By making these credits fully refundable, the bill enables low-income working families to receive Treasury checks of $3,000 per qualified individual (or $6,000 for multiple individuals) even if they have no tax liability.

Richard Neal, D-Mass., said to parents: “We have heard you loudly and clearly. This child care crisis is … pushing many of you to the breaking point. …We are all in this together, and we have got your back.”

Adrian Smith, R-Neb., said he was “saddened” by such an “unrealistic” bill, and he complained that “no Republican input was sought” during the legislative process.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.


Voting yes: Sewell

Voting no: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer

Defunding Affordable Care Act Litigation

The House on July 30 voted, 234 for and 181 against, to deny funding of the Department of Justice’s participation in a lawsuit brought by Republican governors and attorneys general to overturn the Affordable Care Act. The suit is pending before the Supreme Court, and the Trump administration has filed a brief there calling for the law to be struck down. The defunding language was added to a bill (HR 7617), later passed, that would appropriate $33.2 billion for the department along with more than $1 trillion to fund the budgets of numerous other cabinet departments and agencies in fiscal 2021.

Alabama’s Rep. Robert Aderholt, a Republican, said: “Unfortunately, Obamacare has been an unlawful failure, but fortunately, this administration remains committed to providing more affordable health care options to all Americans. … It is not appropriate for Congress to tell the executive branch what position it should take in court. Litigation strategy is (the) responsibility and prerogative of the Department of Justice.”

Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., said “over four million Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, a new pre-existing condition. Over 30 million … have lost their jobs, and over five million have lost their health insurance at the worst possible time. And while this health crisis has been unfolding, the Trump administration will not stop until they destroy the Affordable Care Act.”

A yes vote was to block the funding.


Voting yes: Sewell

Voting no: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer


Confirming Trump Budget Official

Voting 71 for and 21 against, the Senate on July 30 confirmed Derek Tai-Ching Kan as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, putting him second in charge of an agency that directs budget and regulatory policies for the White House. Kan joined the administration in 2017 to serve as a Department of Transportation undersecretary, and before that he was an Amtrak board member and executive with the Lyft transportation company.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.


Voting yes: Richard Shelby, R, Doug Jones, D 

Voting no: None


Congress is tentatively scheduled in the week of Aug. 3 to take up a coronavirus relief package that would, in part, renew expanded jobless benefits and a moratorium on evictions that expired July 31.