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Updated: 41 min 58 sec ago

ObamaCare 2.0: Same Old Headaches for Nation's Classrooms

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 12:00am
The second year of the ObamaCare open enrollment season has begun and Americans are more displeased than ever with the president’s health care law. Schools, in particular, continue to feel the law’s negative effects, from increased costs to diminished services. In Louisiana, administrators are being forced to cut staff hours to keep their schools afloat and their students in the classroom:

Worries about running afoul of the Affordable Care Act — also known as “Obamacare” — have forced officials in Ascension Parish to turn the hunt for substitute teachers to a staffing agency to track hours and avoid federal penalties ... "This is really, really a major concern,” said Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association.

The uproar in education circles, as well as other industries nationwide, stems from a part of the law that requires employers to offer health insurance coverage to part-time workers who are employed 30 hours or more per week, or face federal fines of up to $2,000 per person. Superintendents said such coverage is a huge expense for school districts still reeling from five years of a near freeze in state aid for public schools. “Given the cost of benefits, that would be an unbelievable drain on school systems,” [superintendent, Ascension Parish school system] Pujol said.
– The Advocate, ObamaCare Forces Louisiana Public Schools to Scramble for Substitute Teachers

In New Jersey, school districts are even being forced to outsource their substitute teaching:

A school district in New Jersey is planning to outsource substitute teachers in an effort to counter rising costs of the Affordable Care Act. Roanoke City Public Schools in January will start using the New Jersey-based company Source4Teachers to supply it with substitute teachers, substitute aides and substitute clerical workers … Officials said they began research into the outsourcing option due to the Obamacare mandate that, as of Jan. 1, employees working an average of 30 hours or more a week must be offered health insurance. – Newsmax, Obamacare Costs Push NJ School System to Outsource Sub Teachers

As has been said time and again, the nation’s students and teachers deserve better. That’s why the House passed with bipartisan support the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 2575), legislation to restore the 40-hour work week. Another proposal would simply exempt schools from the employer mandate, providing relief from one of the law’s most onerous mandates.

As the committee continues to fight for commonsense health care solutions and investigate the challenges facing schools as a result of the president’s fatally-flawed law, please share #YourStory by visiting www.edworkforce.house.gov/YourStory or e-mailing us at TellYourStory@mail.house.gov.

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Kline Statement on President’s Immigration Announcement

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after President Obama announced his plans to unilaterally change federal immigration laws:

The president's brazen disregard for the rule of law and the constitutional limits of his office continues to divide our nation. To quote the president, this is not how our democracy functions. He has once again put his own political interests before the best interests of the country. The American people made it clear that they want us to end the gridlock and work together. However, this decision will make it even harder to address the challenges facing our classrooms and workplaces. Unless the president changes course, we will lose an opportunity to advance reforms that would make a difference in the lives of students and working families. The president is determined to let that opportunity slip away.

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Kline Selected to Serve as Education & Workforce Committee Chairman in 114th Congress

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:00am
Rep. John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after being selected by his colleagues to serve as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee in the 114th Congress:
 

I am humbled by the opportunity to continue leading this great committee. Significant challenges face our classrooms and workplaces, challenges that have persisted for far too long. Fixing a broken K-12 education system, promoting certainty and flexibility in our nation’s workplaces, and strengthening higher education are all national priorities that will remain at the forefront of the committee’s agenda. The American people want us to end the gridlock and get to work. If the president is willing to engage and the Senate is willing to act, we can advance reforms that will make a difference in the lives of students and working families. I am eager to help lead that effort and look forward to the work that lies ahead.

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Kline, Miller Praise Senate Passage of Bill to Update Child Care Program

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:00am
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), senior Democrat on the committee, praised the Senate’s passage of a bill to improve and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant today.
 

House and Senate leaders negotiated the bipartisan agreement in September, and the House approved the legislation shortly thereafter. The bill will now head to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

“Today we move one step closer to strengthening child care support for millions of families,” said Kline. “The Child Care and Development Block Grant has helped make it possible for countless moms and dads to provide for their families. This bipartisan legislation includes commonsense reforms that will strengthen health and safety protections and improve quality of care. I want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate for their work on this important issue, and urge the president to sign the bill without delay.”

“This is a victory for America’s children and the millions of American families who rely on the Child Care and Development Block Grant,” said Miller. “CCDBG is an indispensable program that benefits both kids and their working parents, but it has long been in need of critical new commitments to improve quality and safety. With approval of this bipartisan bill by the House and now the Senate, we have taken a major step down the path toward increasing access to safe, high-quality child care. That means that more children nationwide will be in environments that foster their healthy growth and development, which will, in turn, grant parents peace of mind while they work to support their families. This legislation will make our nation’s future brighter by helping children succeed and strengthening working families."

Kline Statement on Latest Pension Report

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:00am
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released its FY 2014 Annual Report, which shows the deficit in the agency's multiemployer insurance program has increased from $8.3 billion to $42.4 billion:
 

The multiemployer pension system is a ticking time bomb that will inflict a lot of pain on workers, employers, taxpayers, and retirees if Congress fails to act. Today’s report is a sober reminder that time is running out and should serve as a wakeup call for those few naysayers who believe this is too hard to get done. For months we have tried to reach consensus on a package of reforms that would give trustees new tools to avoid insolvency and protect retirees. The time to enact responsible reforms is now, before the bomb goes off.

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Kline Statement on Education Department's New Waiver Guidance

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after the Department of Education released new waiver guidance:

Last week, the American people sent a message to Washington: End the gridlock and begin addressing the challenges facing our country. It’s looking more and more like the Obama administration has not gotten the message. Our K-12 education system is broken and we’ve learned over the last several years the president’s controversial waiver scheme is not the answer. Instead of changing course, the administration is delivering more arbitrary rules, more regulatory burdens, and more confusion.
 
What we need is for policymakers and stakeholders to work together in crafting a new law. We have an opportunity to enact bold reforms that will help all students access the quality education they need to succeed. The president must decide whether he is willing to seize that opportunity. The House has demonstrated time and again we are ready to get this done, and I am pleased we finally have partners in the Senate willing to join us. It’s time for the president to join us as well.

 
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VIDEO RELEASE: Kline Outlines Education and Workforce Priorities

Tue, 11/11/2014 - 12:00am
Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today outlined broad priorities to help strengthen the nation’s classrooms and workplaces. Chairman Kline discusses in a new video steps Washington must take to support students and working families, such as fixing a broken K-12 education system, improving higher education, and providing job creators more certainty: 

 

If there is one thing we learned last week, it’s that the American people know we need to do better. They know we need education reform that empowers parents and places more control in the hands of teachers and local decision-makers. They know we need to provide employers certainty and flexibility so they can grow their businesses, create new jobs, and give workers the raise they’ve earned. They know we need to work together to help students pursue the dream of an advanced degree without living a nightmare of debt and unemployment. They know we need to continue investing in our classrooms and workplaces, but demand a better return on our investment. These are the priorities most Americans share ...They must be the priorities of Washington starting now.

To watch the video, click here.

To learn more about House efforts to strengthen America’s classrooms and workplaces, click here

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Left Turn: ObamaCare Still Hurting Working Families

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:00am
WASHINGTON, D.C. Billions of dollars wasted on a flawed website. Numerous unilateral actions and administrative delays. And a lot of happy talk. No matter how hard the Obama administration tries, it can’t shield Americans from the devastating consequences of the president’s unpopular health care law. In fact, a new wave of cancellation notices will alert thousands of Americans that the health care plan they like is no longer available – despite the president’s repeated promises to the contrary. As Fox News reports:


More than a dozen states plan to cancel health care policies not in compliance with ObamaCare in the coming weeks, affecting thousands of people just before the midterm elections.

"It looks like several hundred thousand people across the country will receive notices in the coming days and weeks," said Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The policies are being canceled because states that initially granted a reprieve at the request of President Obama are no longer willing to do so.

In coming weeks, 13 states and the District of Columbia plan to cancel such policies, which generally fall out of compliance with the Affordable Care Act because they don’t offer the level of coverage the law requires ...

Many of those forced out of their current plans and into ObamaCare may not be able to keep their doctors. They also could face higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, making ObamaCare an election issue on the eve of voting.

Obama had originally unequivocally promised that under his health care plan, everyone could keep their doctors and plans.

Remarkably, cancellation notices aren’t the only ObamaCare problem plaguing working families. In recent weeks, press reports have also highlighted:

Reduced Hours for Workers

The clock is ticking for Tommy Cain and thousands of other U.S. employers facing deadlines to make changes to the health insurance they offer their employees under the Affordable Care Act … Business owners are considering trimming their head counts below the 50 full-time-worker cutoff or reducing their workers' hours rather than comply with the requirement, which begins in January for companies with 100 or more employees. – Wall Street Journal, “Bosses face Affordable Care Act deadline

Dropped Coverage for Part-Timers

Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that starting Jan. 1, it will no longer offer health insurance to employees who work less than an average of 30 hours a week. The move affects 30,000 employees … but comes after the company already had scaled back the number of part-time workers who were eligible for health insurance coverage since 2011. The announcement follows similar decisions by Target, Home Depot and others to completely eliminate health insurance benefits for part-time employees. – Associated Press, “Wal-Mart Cut Health Benefits for Some Part-Timers

Fewer Jobs

The economy's weakness itself has been exacerbated by the negative impact of new taxes and regulations under ObamaCare. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the new health-care law will levy more than $500 billion in new taxes over its first 10 years to help pay for insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion… As a result, small and large U.S. health-care technology companies are moving R&D centers and jobs overseas. – Wall Street Journal, “ObamaCare's Anti-Innovation Effect

Ongoing Threats to Privacy

According to the Government Accountability Office report, “weaknesses [remain] in the security and privacy protections applied to HealthCare.gov and its supporting systems ... Collectively, these weaknesses put HealthCare.gov systems and the information they contain at increased and unnecessary risk of unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification or loss. – Fox News, “HealthCare.gov still has security issues

The president’s health care law is hurting working families. Job creators, workers, and families deserve a health care system that works for them, not against them. That is why, as Speaker Boehner has noted, “Republicans remain committed to repealing the law and replacing it with solutions that will lower health care costs and protect American jobs.”

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Kline, Rokita Praise Senate Action on Bill to Strengthen Education Research

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:30am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) today released the following joint statement commending the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee for approving H.R. 4366, the Strengthening Education through Research Act:

Education research is a vital tool for parents, teachers, and school leaders trying to build the best education possible for their students. It also informs policymakers and taxpayers about whether or not federal efforts are helping to raise student achievement. The Education Sciences Reform Act is long overdue for reform and we are pleased the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved a House proposal to update the law. The bill includes fiscally responsible reforms to streamline the research system, promote accountability, protect student privacy, and ensure unbiased education research. We commend Senators Harkin and Alexander for their leadership on this important issue and we hope the Senate approves the bill without delay.

To learn more about H.R. 4366, click here.

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Committee Seeks Information from NLRB General Counsel on Joint-Employer Standard

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:30am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe have asked National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Richard Griffin to provide documents and information concerning his effort to rewrite the joint-employer standard under the National Labor Relations Act.

In a letter to Griffin, they wrote:

Your office recently filed an amicus brief indicating the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should adopt a broader standard to determine joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). A month later, your office authorized complaints against McDonald’s USA, LLC and McDonald’s franchisees as joint-employers … It is our understanding such complaints are unprecedented.

To better understand the reason behind these actions, the committee is requesting the following information by September 30, 2014:

  • A list of all open complaints in which joint-employer status is an issue;
  • Any documents and communications related to closed complaints in which joint-employer status was an issue; and
  • A thorough description of the current joint-employer test the general counsel’s office is applying, particularly its application to franchises.

BACKGROUND: Since 1984, the NLRB has determined joint-employer status by analyzing whether the alleged employers share control over essential terms and conditions of employment, such as hiring, firing, and supervision. In recent months, the NLRB’s general counsel has engaged in an effort to discard this long held standard. At a committee oversight hearing held on September 9, small business owners and labor experts recently testified, this decision threatens to harm family businesses and destroy jobs. News reports highlight the havoc this unprecedented policy will wreak on employers and employees alike:

Business owners, both franchisers and franchisees, told the House Education and the Workforce Committee that the NLRB's move could undermine the franchising model, one of the main ways people get into business for themselves … "Individual entrepreneurs would be deprived of the opportunity to own their own businesses, franchisers would be denied the ability to expand their businesses, and millions of jobs would be lost" [said Catherine Monson, chief executive officer, FASTSIGNS International Inc.]. – Washington Examiner, Business owners: NLRB's McDonald's decision will ruin franchise model 

"I am extremely alarmed by the radical decision of the NLRB's general counsel to attempt to create joint employer status for franchisors” … [Jagruti] Panwala [hotel franchisee] said … This may establish a dangerous precedent that could ultimately eliminate one of the most successful paths of small business ownership in the United States. – Digital Journal, AAHOA Board Member Jagruti Panwala Testifies Before Congress

Catherine Monson, the CEO of signage and banner company FastSigns International Inc. — which operates on a franchise model — said the general counsel's position marks a “drastic change” from how the board's joint employer status has been interpreted since 1984…“It will completely change, and I think, destroy the franchise model.– Law 360, NLRB Joint Employer Stance Risky For Franchises, Reps. Told

A recent effort by the National Labor Relations Board's general counsel to “expand” joint employer liability under federal labor law could change the way franchise businesses operate, witnesses said …“In recent months, it's become clear the Obama National Labor Relations Board is determined to rewrite a franchise model that has served workers, employers, and consumers well for decades,” chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said. – Bloomberg BNA, House Panel Considers Impact on Franchises Of Broadening NLRA Joint Employer Liability

The NLRB is going off the rails again. They have decided to destroy business franchise/franchisee agreements by allowing the corporations that spin out thousands of small businesses using their name, business model and products to be sued over the alleged actions of a few of the small, independent business….This strikes at the heart of the independence of almost 1 million locally owned franchise businesses. – The Hill, Op-Ed, by Rick Manning, NLRB Goes Rogue Against Small Business

To read the members' letter, click here

To learn more about the September 9 oversight hearing, click here.

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Walberg Statement: Hearing on the EEOC Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R. 4959), the Litigation Oversight Act of 2014 (H.R 5422), and the Certainty in Enforcement Act of 2014 (H.R. 5423)

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:00am
Today we will discuss a number of legislative proposals that would bring greater transparency and accountability to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 
   
We are here because every member of the committee recognizes the EEOC is a vitally important agency. It has a responsibility to protect the right of all workers to a fair shot at employment opportunities and a workplace free of discrimination. This is a fundamental human right each and every one of us holds dear. No one should be denied a job, have their wages cut, or be passed over for a promotion because of their race, gender, religion, or disability.
  
We are here because we want the EEOC to do its job, and more importantly, to do its job effectively. That is why in recent months we have made oversight of EEOC a priority, because we know men and women are being discriminated against; we know bad actors would rather put their own hateful prejudice before the talent and experience of each individual worker. It isn’t right and it is EEOC’s mission to help stop it from happening.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the EEOC has shifted its focus away from that vital mission. Instead, it has spent a great deal of time and resources advancing a deeply flawed enforcement and regulatory agenda. Employers have fallen under EEOC’s intense scrutiny without any allegation of employment discrimination. Charges are being filed in federal court with little to no evidence of wrongdoing. Federal judges have harshly and appropriately criticized the agency for its shoddy legal work.

Each day the agency harasses employers without cause and every case tossed out of court for legal malpractice is another lost opportunity to help victims of employment discrimination. It means the veteran, injured and disabled while serving our country, will continue waiting forhis day in court. It means the single mom, who worked long and hard to earn a promotion, will continue waiting for her day in court.

More than 70,000 individual complaints are sitting in front of the commission. The backlog represents thousands of private-sector workers who believe their rights were violated and who are waiting anxiously for the commission to do its job. As the old saying goes, “justice delayed is justice denied.” It’s time to stop denying these men and women the justice they deserve.

Not only is the EEOC dropping the ball with its misguided enforcement priorities, it is also pursuing a regulatory scheme that is making it more difficult for employers to protect employees and consumers. In recent years, states and localities have adopted policies to protect Americans in vulnerable situations who come in contact with workers, such as at home and in the classroom. The EEOC has eviscerated these efforts. Quite simply, the agency’s edict restricting the use of criminal background checks is putting people in harm’s way, including women and children.

It’s time the agency changed course and that’s precisely what the legislation before us is intended to do. Among other provisions, the proposals will help shine more sunlight on EEOC activities, compel the agency to work with employers in good faith to resolve complaints, force the commissioners to do their jobs and oversee the agency’s enforcement actions, and provide a safe harbor to employers complying with federal, state, and local mandates, such as laws requiring criminal background checks during the hiring process.

These are commonsense reforms that should enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting transparency at a vitally important federal agency. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting the ability of states to promote a safe and responsible workforce. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting an effort to get this agency back on track to better protect the rights of America’s workers.

I urge my colleagues to support a more effective, accountable Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by supporting the legislation. I would like to thank my colleague, Representative Hudson, for his leadership on this important issue. Again, we are grateful to our witnesses for joining us and I look forward to our discussion.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Subcommittee to Examine Legislation to Provide Greater EEOC Transparency and Accountability

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 12:00am
On Wednesday, September 17 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), will hold a legislative hearing on the EEOC Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R. 4959), the Litigation Oversight Act of 2014 (H.R 5422), and the Certainty in Enforcement Act of 2014 (H.R. 5423). The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. At a recent oversight hearing, witnesses shared growing concerns with various EEOC regulatory and enforcement actions. For example, “guidance” finalized in 2012 limits employers’ use of criminal background checks during the hiring process. The subcommittee also examined EEOC’s increasing reliance on systemic discrimination cases and the commission’s delegation of its litigation authority to the Office of General Counsel. In response to these concerns, a number of legislative proposals have been introduced:

  • H.R. 4959, introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), would increase EEOC transparency by, among other provisions, requiring the commission to post on its website and in its annual report any case in which the commission was required to pay court sanctioned fees or costs.
              
  • H.R. 5422, introduced by Rep. Walberg, would require EEOC commissioners to approve by majority vote all EEOC-initiated litigation involving multiple plaintiffs or allegations of systemic discrimination.
               
  • H.R. 5423, also introduced by Rep. Walberg, would provide a safe harbor to employers complying with federal or state mandates, such as a law requiring criminal background checks.

Wednesday’s hearing will provide members the opportunity to examine these proposals and ongoing concerns over EEOC’s regulatory and enforcement practices.

To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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WITNESS LIST

Ms. Lynn A. Clements
Director, Regulatory Affairs
Berkshire Associates, Inc.
Columbia, MD

Mr. Eric S. Dreiband
Partner
Jones Day
Washington, D.C.

Mr. Michael L. Foreman
Director, Civil Rights Appellate Clinic
The Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law
State College, PA

Mr. William F. Lloyd
General Counsel
Deloitte LLP
New York, NY

House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Reform Child Care & Development Block Grant Program

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 5:00pm
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) issued the following statements after the House passed as amended S. 1086, a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to reform and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant program:
 
“The Child Care and Development Block Grant program is a vital lifeline for parents trying to build a better future for their families,” said Chairman Kline. “Whether going to work or school, a lot of parents have to decide who will care for their children and worry if they’ve made the right decision. This bipartisan legislation will strengthen this important program to give working moms and dads greater access to quality, affordable child care. I want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate for their work in crafting this legislation, and hope it will be sent to the president’s desk as soon as possible.”
 
“Today, I’m proud to reauthorize the Child Care Development Block Grant program with changes that strengthen parental choice, increase safety standards for providers, rein in an over-zealous federal government, and maintain the program’s essential purpose as work support with state flexibility,” said Rep. Todd Rokita.
 
The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides funds to states to help low-income families pay for child care while a parent works or is in an educational or job training program. The law has not been reauthorized since 1996. The bipartisan, bicameral agreement is based upon legislation introduced in 2013 by Senators Mikulski and Burr that passed the Senate earlier this year and includes reforms to:

• Enhance parental choice by providing information about available care options from all providers, including faith-based and community-based providers, and allowing parents to choose the child care provider that best suits their family’s needs.
   
• Strengthen safety in child care settings by requiring all providers to comply with state health, safety, and fire standards and undergo annual inspections.
   
• Promote high quality child care by reserving funds at the state level to improve the quality of care, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.
 
To learn more about the bill, click here.
 
To read letters of support, click here.

Kline Statement: S.1086 Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:00am

Across the country countless men and women are trying to build a better life for their families. Some are working more for less in order to make ends meet. Others are pursuing a degree at a local university or improving their skills at a nearby community college.

Whether going to work or school, most parents face a difficult question: Who will care for my child? Is there a trusted child care provider who will keep my son or daughter safe? And if there is, can I afford it?

For nearly two decades, the Child Care and Development Block Grant program has helped low-income families answer these tough questions. The program funds state efforts to provide vulnerable families access to child care. Parents receive assistance in the form of a voucher or certificate to pay the child care provider of their choice.

Approximately one and a half million children under the age of 13 are in a child care arrangement funded through the program, including over 25,000 children in my home state of Minnesota. It is a vital safety net for moms and dads trying to lift their families out of poverty.

At a hearing held earlier this year, one witness told the story of a woman named Rita. Speaking of the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, Rita said, “These federal investments were a quite serious lifeline for me…I know where I came from and I do not want to go back.”

Rita’s experience is shared by countless Americans. Yet despite the importance of the program, it has been almost 20 years since Congress reformed the law. As with any federal program left on auto-pilot, problems will emerge and this program is no different.

Poor coordination across related services and a lack of information make it difficult for parents looking for the best provider to know the full range of options. Perhaps most troubling, a patchwork of state licensing, monitoring, and related safety requirements means some children aren’t protected like they should be.

These families deserve better, which is why I am proud to support this important legislation. The bill before us includes a number of commonsense reforms that will strengthen the program and our support of these at-risk families.

For example, the legislation requires all participating child care providers to undergo, at a minimum, an annual inspection to ensure compliance with health, safety, and fire standards. The bill enhances existing training for providers and their workers, so every child is under the care of a well-trained professional. The legislation also reins in the authority of the secretary of Health and Human Services, to prevent this and future administrations from writing onerous rules that would limit access to this important service.

We have a long way to go before every American enjoys the opportunity and prosperity they and their families deserve. By supporting this bipartisan legislation, we have a chance to help these families succeed and set their children on the path to a bright future.

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What They’re Saying: Child Care Stakeholders Support Bipartisan Bill to Help Working Families

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:00am

Child care and community leaders are voicing support for the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill to help low-income families access child care while a parent pursues an education or job-training.

“This bill sets the standard all families expect for their children by requiring providers to undergo comprehensive background checks, annual and pre-licensure inspections, and training... [and] includes significant measures to improve the quality of child care and ensure that all children in child care settings are safe.”– Child Care Aware of America

“Your substitute amendment retains that critical provision and even adds language in various sections that supports the availability of a variety of approaches to childhood development.” – Council for American Private Education

“CCDBG ensure[s] parents continue to have the capacity to choose from a broad diversity of delivery models – including faith-based models – in early education.” – Association of Christian Schools International

"The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Program helps low-income working families and parents transitioning from welfare to work find safe, supportive, caring environments for their children.” – National Education Association

“CCDBG serves as essential support to working families who need to ensure their children are cared for and learning in a safe and high-quality setting during parents’ hours of employment, which often exceed the regular school day.” – Early Care and Education Consortium

“Working families with young children depend on child care so that they can obtain and retain a job … The Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act will combine important safety protections for children in child care with more accountability for the expenditure of public dollars.” – First Children’s Finance

“The quality improvements in the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 will work to ensure that more children of low-income working families have access to a high-quality early care and learning experience that best meets their needs.” – Knowledge Universe

“The CCDBG Reauthorization Act is truly historic.” – Early Learning Policy Group

“We support the proposed CCDBG improvements focused on safety, health, and quality.” – Save The Children

“Child care assistance is an essential work-support for low income parents … [CCDBG] is unique among federal programs in that its two-generational focus has the ability to support both parents’ economic success and children’s healthy development.” – Center for Law and Social Policy

“The bicameral, bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act will combine important safety protections for children in child care with more accountability for the expenditure of public dollars."  - Child Care Aware of Virginia

"Working families with young children need child care, and children need a place to be safe and a setting that promotes their healthy development. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of working families.” – Child Care Resources

"Nemours enthusiastically supports S. 1086, as we believe it will create a solid foundation to increase access to and improve the quality of child care for families and children benefitting from the CCDBG program." – Nemours

"Quality child care is critical for working families. However, parents can't have choices among quality settings unless children are safe and the child care workforce has the training they need to promote quality care. Thank you for supporting working families and for working to strengthen the quality of child care.” – OCCRRA

"Your efforts will have a positive impact on a program critical not only to working parents but to the 6 million infants and toddlers who currently spend some portion of their days in child care." – Zero to Three

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Bipartisan, Bicameral Agreement Reached to Reform Child Care & Development Block Grant Program

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 1:15pm

A bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders today announced a legislative agreement to improve and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. Negotiated by Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC), the agreement will enhance transparency, strengthen health and safety protections, and improve the quality of care.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides funds to states to help low-income families pay for child care while a parent works or is in an educational or job training program. The law has not been reauthorized since 1996. Today’s bipartisan, bicameral agreement is based upon legislation introduced in 2013 by Senators Mikulski and Burr that passed the Senate earlier this year.
 
“The Child Care and Development Block Grant program is a vital lifeline for countless Americans,” said Rep. Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “Working moms and dads have pursued a career, earned a degree, or acquired new skills and training because of the support available through this program. The commonsense ideas included in this bipartisan, bicameral agreement will only strengthen our support of these working families. I want to thank my House and Senate colleagues for working together to forge this bipartisan agreement.”

“For working families in Iowa and around the country, access to safe and affordable child care is essential,” said Senator Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “This bipartisan bill will help to ensure working parents have access to quality, affordable child care and provide rich early-learning opportunities for children, including infants and toddlers and children with disabilities. This bill is a strong example of what Congress can achieve by working together. I am encouraged by the HELP Committee’s growing record of bipartisan accomplishments and look forward to the President signing this critical bill into law.”  

“Every parent, regardless of their income level, deserves to know that their child is well cared-for,” said Rep. Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “This bipartisan, bicameral bill improves child care access, makes critical new investments, and helps to ensure children are safe and are receiving quality care. Reliable care sets children on the path toward success in school and in the rest of their lives. While helping to prepare the next generation, good child care also supports working parents to promote greater workforce stability. These updates to CCDBG are vital for our children, our families, and our nation’s future.”

“This bill helps a working Tennessee mother be able to pay for child care while she earns a degree so she can pay for it herself,” said Sen. Alexander, the senior Republican on the Senate HELP Committee. “Every month, an average of 39,000 Tennessee children get child care through this program while their parents earn an education or build a career. Today’s agreement will continue success stories like the Memphis mother whose infant received care through this program while she earned a business degree and rose to assistant manager at a Walmart, enabling her to pay for the care of her second child at the same childcare center.”

“For families struggling to make ends meet, quality child care is a necessity,” said Rep. Rokita. “This significant agreement strengthens a child care program that has been untouched for nearly two decades. It does so by preserving provider choice, improving transparency, and most importantly, child safety. This bill could truly save lives, and I look forward to its passage.”

“Every working parent with children no matter their income level worries about child care,” said Sen. Mikulski. “What’s affordable? What’s accessible? Will my child be safe? Where can I get the very best care for my kid? It is not enough to simply ensure that kids have someplace to go. We must also ensure that they go someplace that is safe, that nurtures their development, that challenges their mind, and that prepares them for school. I am so pleased that the Senate and House have come together on a bipartisan basis to revitalize, refresh, and reform this vitally important program to support child care providers, give parents peace of mind, and better prepare our children for the future. It’s time to get this done for children, parents, and providers alike!”

“As the son of a single mother, I know how important quality, affordable child care is for working families,” said Rep. Loebsack. “The Child Care Development Block Grant provides a critical lifeline to families and allows them to work or attend school with the peace of mind knowing their children are safe and well cared for. This bipartisan agreement makes long needed updates and improvements to CCDBG that will promote healthy child development and enhance quality and safety. I am pleased that both Republicans and Democrats from both the House and Senate came together to improve the lives of working families.”

“Over three years ago Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and I made a commitment to reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant program so that kids could have safer environments in which to stay while their parents worked and taxpayers did not continue to subsidize providers who created unsafe settings and threatened their well-being. It has been a long time coming, but I’m proud we have reached this point," said Senator Richard Burr. "I am thankful for the work of my colleagues in the Senate and the House who stood together to ensure the passage of this legislation. This legislation will positively impact the lives of millions of children and their parents.”  

The bipartisan, bicameral agreement includes reforms to:

  • Enhance parental choice by providing information about available care options from all providers, including faith-based and community-based providers, and allowing parents to choose the child care provider that best suits their family’s needs.
         
  • Strengthen safety in child care settings by requiring all providers  to comply with state health, safety, and fire standards and undergo annual inspections.
          
  • Promote high quality child care by reserving funds at the state level to improve the quality of care provided to children, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.

The text of the bill is available here.

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Committee Leaders Applaud Passage of Employee Health Care Protection Act

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 12:00am
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) issued the following statements after the House passed H.R. 3522, the Employee Health Care Protection Act:
 
“The president promised time and again if people liked their health care plan they could keep it,” said Rep. Kline. “But the American people are discovering the president failed to keep his word, leaving them with political gimmicks, cancelled policies, and broken promises. Today the House passed legislation to allow hard-working Americans to keep the health plans they like, providing workers and small businesses more affordable health care options. I urge the Senate to support the legislation without delay.”
 
“When President Obama reassured people repeatedly that if they liked their current health care plan they could keep it,” said Rep. Roe, “he was ignoring clear warnings that this promise couldn’t be kept. As a physician, I anticipated that insurance would become increasingly unaffordable and that many Americans would lose access to their existing policies. I am proud to join my colleagues in the House in taking this important step to alleviate some of the chaos the president’s health care law is causing, and I hope the Senate will do the same.”

Rokita Statement: Hearing on "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight"

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:00am

A free and democratic society requires government transparency and accountability. We all want the federal government to serve the best interests of every American – those directly affected by federal programs and those whose tax dollars fund federal programs. To get there, we need to know what’s working and what isn’t. And we need to know the steps an agency should take to turn things around. 

The Department of Education administers roughly 80 programs tied to K-12 schools; 80 programs just at the elementary and secondary education level. It requires a massive bureaucracy to administer so many programs, and the greater the bureaucracy the greater the opportunities for mismanagement. That is why the House has taken action that would begin streamlining these programs, because a more efficient Department of Education can do a better job supporting our nation’s schools.

However, even the leanest federal agency can still be susceptible to waste, fraud, and abuse. We must remain vigilant in our oversight, both in Congress and the offices of our independent partners. The Government Accountability Office and inspectors general are at the forefront of this important effort. Their knowledge and investigative authority are vital tools in the fight against government corruption and mismanagement.        

Chairwoman Foxx noted several reports by GAO affecting higher education policies with recommendations that remain open. Here are just a few examples affecting K-12 education policies:                                                                      

  • “Education Could Do More to Assist Charter Schools with Applying for Discretionary Grants”;
                                                                                                
  • “Students with Disabilities: Better Federal Coordination Could Lessen Challenges in the Transition from High School”;                                                          
  • “Selected States and School Districts Cited Numerous Federal Requirements as Burdensome, While Recognizing Some Benefits”; and
         
  • “Education Research: Further Improvements Needed to Ensure Relevance and Assess Dissemination Efforts.”
 Each report embodies a new opportunity to serve the American people more effectively and spend taxpayer dollars more wisely. President Reagan once noted, “Government is the people’s business, and every man, woman, and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid.” I am fighting for all those people so that they can build better lives for themselves and their families. It is our responsibility to protect their tax dollars and ensure the American people receive the highest level of government service they expect. 

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Foxx Statement: Hearing on "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight"

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:00am
Independent oversight is a central tool to ensure the federal government spends taxpayer dollars wisely and administers programs and policies in the most efficient and effective way. When you consider the challenges facing our schools and workplaces, as well as the tsunami of red ink confronting taxpayers, the need for responsible administration of the federal government has never been more important.

The Government Accountability Office and each agency’s Office of Inspector General play vital roles in the oversight effort. The hard-working staff of these nonpartisan entities are the taxpayers first line of defense against  waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars. They also help identify areas where programs and policies can be improved to ensure the American people receive the best services possible. 

Like all federal agencies, the Department of Education has a responsibility to take the concerns and recommendations offered by these independent investigators seriously. There is certainly no shortage of improvements needed at the department. In recent years, the GAO has issued numerous reports highlighting areas where programs and policies should be strengthened, including reports entitled:                                                                       
  • “Use of New Data Could Help Improve Oversight of Distance Education”;
                                                                                                
  • “Foreign Medical Schools: Education Should Improve Monitoring of Schools That Participate in the Federal Student Loan Program”;                                                          
  • “Better Oversight Could Improve Defaulted Loan Rehabilitation”; and
         
  • “Improved Tax Information Could Help Families Pay for College.”
These reports are in addition to those routinely released by the Inspector General’s office. The examples I just cited are especially noteworthy, because they include recommendations not yet implemented by the department. Agencies may not agree with every recommendation in every report. In fact, this committee may question various recommendations from time to time. 

However, each independent report represents an opportunity for a federal agency to consider changes and improve. Whether it’s the solutions outlined by the GAO and IG offices, or a set of changes proposed internally by an agency, action must be taken. The American people deserve no less.

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