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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
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