Maurice Hinchey on Families & Children
Dem./Ind./Lib./Working-Fam. Representative (NY-22)
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:
Rep. STEVE LYNCH (D, MA-9): This bill takes an important step toward improving the Federal Government's ability to recruit and retain a highly qualified workforce by providing paid parental leave to Federal and Congressional employees for the birth, adoption or placement of a child for foster care, which is a benefit that is extended to many in the private sector in other industrialized countries.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. DARRELL ISSA (R, CA-49): This bill sends the wrong message at the wrong time to working American taxpayers and families that are struggling in difficult times. Our economy is in crisis, and deficits are already soaring. This bill does not have one provision to say if you make $170,000 a year, why do we have to give you this benefit, because you have to choose between feeding your children and being with your children? Certainly not. There are no protections against, in fact, those who do not need this special benefit getting it. There are no safeguards at all. As a matter of fact, this bill envisions the $1 billion over 5 years, swelling to $4 billion over 10 years or more because, in fact, they believe it should be 8 weeks of special leave. Federal employees enjoy one of the highest levels of job security, without a doubt, anywhere in the United States. I would venture to say many of them the highest. More importantly, in good times and bad, they keep their jobs.
The Christian Coalition was founded in 1989 by Dr. Pat Robertson to give Christians a voice in government. We represent millions of people of faith and enable them to have a strong, unified voice in the conversation we call democracy.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to classify certain children's products containing lead to be banned hazardous substances.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: The unfortunate reality for many children--particularly in low-income and minority households--is the continued presence of high blood lead levels. Lead is a highly toxic substance that can produce a range of health problems in young children, including IQ deficiencies, hyperactivity, and damage to the kidneys, brain and bone marrow.
We know that lead poisoning is completely preventable. As the Nation has increased efforts to reduce environmental lead exposure, the number of children with high blood levels has steadily dropped. Restricting lead in gasoline and paint represent two major accomplishments in this regard. But much work remains to be done.
Disturbingly, lead is present in a number of toys and other frequently used objects by young children. About half of tested lunch boxes have unsafe levels of lead. In 2004, there were 3 recalls of nearly 150 million pieces of toy jewelry because of toxic levels of lead. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission has dragged its feet in aggressively addressing the problem of lead in toys.
It's a national disgrace that toys that could pose a serious and significant danger to children are readily available in our department stores and markets. The Lead Free Toys Act of 2005 will help us keep our children safe and healthy, and contribute to national efforts to reduce lead exposure.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; never came to a vote.
Authorizes grants to states for sex education programs, including education on abstinence and contraception, to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Expresses the sense of Congress that states are encouraged, although not required, to provide matching funds to receive such grants.
Requires the Secretary to provide for a national evaluation of a representative sample of such programs for effectiveness in delaying the initiation of sexual intercourse and other high-risk behaviors, preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, and increasing contraceptive knowledge and behavior. Requires states receiving such grants to provide for an individual evaluation of the state's program by an external, independent entity.
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to increase the number of children eligible for free school meals, with a phased-in transition period. Expands eligibility for free meals under the school lunch and breakfast programs to children whose family income falls at or below 185% of the federal poverty guidelines.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS:
Sen. FRANKEN: In a country as wealthy as ours, it is shameful to let any child go hungry. That is why today, Senator Murkowski and I are introducing the Expand School Meals Act. By eliminating the reduced price meals category and replacing it with the free meal program, this legislation will ensure that low-income children are not denied nutritious food during the school day if their family can't afford to pay for it.
It is important to remember that this will improve student readiness for school. Parents have long known, and recent studies confirm, that children cannot learn on empty stomachs. Hungry children perform worse on achievement tests, have trouble concentrating, and are more likely to act out in school.
There are 3.1 million low-income children across the Nation eligible for reduced-price school meals. Currently, these families must pay 40 cents for each lunch and 30 cents for each breakfast their children eat at school. While this may not sound like a lot of money to members of Congress, to a family that is barely scraping by, especially in today's economy, the cost can be prohibitive.
I would like to conclude by commending my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their leadership in advocating for the extension of free school meals to children of the working poor. These efforts began with Senator Elizabeth Dole, who in 2003 introduced a bill that would have also phased out the reduced price meals category.
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