Children's Advocates Urge Sen. Specter to Vote 'No' on Conference Agreement

Specter one of a few key senators who could halt passage of budget bill;

The conference agreement, passed by U.S. House this morning,

moves to Senate tonight

Dec 19, 2005, 00:00 ET from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children

    HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Children's advocates in
 Pennsylvania today reached out to their networks to urge supporters to call
 Sen. Arlen Specter's Washington D.C. office and urge him to file a "no" vote
 on the conference report (S. 1932) scheduled to be considered tonight or
 tomorrow morning by the Senate. Specter is one of just two or three key
 senators being targeted by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) and
 other advocacy groups whose vote could halt this bill. The conference report
 was passed by the House this morning.
     House and Senate leaders in Congress completed a budget conference
 agreement over the weekend that contains $40 billion in cuts over five years.
 Particularly harmful to Pennsylvania children and families are cuts to
 Medicaid, child care, child support and TANF.  The agreement now stands or
 falls on the final vote in the Senate.
     "This call is the most important call we have ever asked our supporters to
 make," said Joan L. Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for
 Children.  "Sen. Specter has the power to halt this bill that would be harmful
 to Pennsylvania's children, families, the elderly and the disabled.  Never
 before has it been so important to Pennsylvania's children for one of our
 senators to hear from his constituents."
     The conference report includes a Medicaid provision that would allow
 states to charge co-payments to low-income children and families. The report
 also would eliminate standards which assure that children receive
 comprehensive health care benefits.
     The conference report includes a $1.5 billion cut in federal funding for
 child support enforcement efforts over the next five years and a $4.9 billion
 cut over the next 10 years. This is funding that states use to track down
 absent parents and collect and distribute child support owed to families. It
 is estimated that Pennsylvania would lose more than $90 million over the next
 five years.
     The report includes the reauthorization of TANF and increases the work
 participation requirements. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that
 some states - including Pennsylvania - would have a difficult time meeting the
 new work mandates and would face fiscal penalties as a consequence.
     The conference report includes $1 billion in additional child care funding
 which is $7.4 billion less than what CBO estimates to be the cost to states of
 meeting the new work requirements, and more than $11 billion less than what
 states would need both to meet the new work requirements and to ensure that
 their current child care programs for low-income working families are not
 scaled back.
     This means the conference agreement includes no new funding for states to
 help meet the intensified work requirements; fewer children would receive
 child care in PA five years from now than do today.
     Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is a strong, effective and trusted
 voice for improving the health, education and well-being of the Commonwealth's
 children. More information may be obtained by contacting Kathy Geller Myers at
 717-236-5680 or

SOURCE Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children