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House Passes Minibus Funding Bill with Increases for Early Learning & Care Programs

News June 20, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass a “minibus” package, a partial government spending bill that includes substantial funding increases for many of the federal early learning and care programs, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations subcommittee.

Building on historic bipartisan increases secured by Congress in recent years, the FY2020 bill passed by the House includes the following spending levels for key programs:

“Republicans and Democrats agree that access to high-quality early learning is vital for America’s working families,” said Sarah Rittling, executive director of the First Five Years Fund (FFYF). “Over the course of many years, Congress has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the programs that support the care and education of children from birth through age five. Yet even with recent historic increases in funding for these programs, the need still far outweighs the demand. The spending levels agreed to today mark a positive step in the ongoing funding negotiations, and we are hopeful that lawmakers agree to raise budget caps on non-defense discretionary spending as part of those discussions. As the appropriations process moves forward, lawmakers should build on the growing bipartisan momentum they’ve built and ensure these vital early learning programs receive robust funding increases.”

While the vote for final passage was partisan, Republican Congressman Tom Cole, the Ranking Member on the Labor-HHS Subcommittee, praised the bipartisan inclusion of robust support for early learning and care provisions:

“I want to thank, particularly, my working partner, Rosa DeLauro, whom I have had the great opportunity to work with now for the fifth year. There are a lot of good things in this bill, a lot of things to be proud of. Frankly, we have worked together in the past and continued to work together in this bill… I very much support the focus on early childhood education.”

FFYF looks forward to working closely with bipartisan members of the House and Senate to ensure the final FY2020 appropriations legislation includes robust funding increases for early learning and care programs. For these or other increases to be possible, Congress will first have to reach an agreement to increase the current budget caps to avoid across-the-board cuts in funding to critical non-defense discretionary programs.

Research has consistently proven the value of high-quality early learning and care programs for parents, children, and society at large. Additionally, American voters understand the need for increased investments—in FFYF’s 2018 poll, only 15 percent of voters said that most or all local programs available to lower- and middle-income families are high-quality and affordable.

In advance of the appropriations process, 269 members from both political parties in the House of Representatives and the Senate signed onto “Dear Colleague” letters to appropriators that emphasized the need to prioritize early learning and child care programs in FY2020 bills.

The First Five Years Fund is the leading bipartisan federal advocacy organization working to ensure all children from birth through age five have equal access to affordable, comprehensive, high-quality care and education to support their healthy development and help them achieve their full potential in school and life. FFYF seeks to expand federal support for all early learning and care opportunities that are high-quality and focused first on serving those children most-at-risk.


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