In previous updates on the goings-on in Washington and sequestration cuts, we’ve casually mentioned, “and the continuing resolution that’s currently funding federal programs is set to expire March 27…” With that deadline now looming, Congress has turned its attention to extending the continuing resolution, or CR, through the remainder of the current fiscal year (that’s FY2013), which runs through September. With the Senate set to take up their version of the spending bill this week, there is a small window of opportunity to encourage them to increase funding for early learning programs.

While a CR traditionally flat-funds programs at their prior-year level, there are exceptions, or “anomalies.” The Senate bill includes small increases for Head Start (a $33 million increase) and child care (a $50 million increase) as anomalies. These are very modest increases, but every little bit helps—and, in this environment, signals a laudable commitment to supporting early learning. It gets better: Senator Harkin will offer an amendment that would bump up the proposed increases to $39 million for Head Start and $107 million for child care.

Please call or email your Senators and urge them to support the Harkin amendment. Time is short; the amendment could come up for a vote as early as tonight. It’s important that we all rally to remind the Senate that early learning has a big and vocal base of supporters, that we’re grateful for this potential increase, and that we appreciate the leadership and commitment symbolized in highlighting early learning as a priority.

Will this counteract the sequestration cuts, you ask? Not quite: these proposed increases would not be enough to fully offset the effects of sequestration, but they could lessen the impact of the cuts. And is this the same hullaballoo as all the chatter of Rep. Ryan and Sen. Murray’s budget proposals that’s in the news this week? Nope—that’s a separate process that kicks off the negotiations and discussions about FY2014 funding. Stay tuned for more information on that later this week!