Just as the Senate was prepared to put the finishing touches on a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize the federal low-income child care program, the measure was stalled by a Republican senator who placed a hold on the bill.
Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) put a hold on the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization bill (S 1086), preventing the Senate from passing the measure before Congress recessed for the November elections.
The new legislation is the first time the rules governing CCDBG have been reauthorized since 1996. This updating would cover the next six years. CCDBG discretionary child care spending has grown from $2.1 billion in FY 2010 to $2.36 billion in FY 2014. Only one in six eligible children gets subsidized child care. The new legislation would authorize $2.4 billion in FY 2015 in discretionary funding, rising by FY 2020 to $2.7 billion.
An earlier version of the bill passed the Senate in March, and on Sept. 15 the House passed a compromise version that won bipartisan support from both chambers of Congress. Toomey offered to release his hold on the child care bill in exchange for a floor vote on a bill of his own, which would require teachers in elementary and secondary schools to undergo background checks. Leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee said Toomey’s bill should go through the normal committee review and approval process before getting a vote on the Senate floor.
Outlook: Advocates were hopeful the reauthorization of the CCDBG would make it to the president’s desk quickly. Toomey’s action has left the timing of Senate passage uncertain.