Government Affairs and Advocacy

Jan. 30 Federal Update: New Leadership of the 118th Congress

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January 30, 2023

With the commencement of the 118th Congress this month, it is time to identify the leadership of both chambers of Congress, as well as the chairs and ranking members of key committees.

In the Senate, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will retain their positions as majority leader and minority leader, respectively. Their whips will continue to be Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and John Thune (R-S.D.). Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) will step into the powerful leadership roles of chair and vice chair of the Appropriations Committee, which controls the annual process for passing the federal budget. The Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which authorizes funding and decides policy on important social and education programs, will be chaired by Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who will be joined by ranking member Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-Ark.) will remain the leaders of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, which has jurisdiction over nutrition policy.

Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has the speaker’s gavel in the House after Republicans won a majority of congressional seats in the November midterms. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) is the minority leader, replacing Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as leader of the Democrats. On the Appropriations Committee, Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) will switch positions, the former becoming the chairwoman and the latter the ranking member. The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee on Appropriations will be chaired by Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), with Rosa DeLauro serving as ranking member. Finally, Glenn Thompson (R-Penn.) will become chair, and David Scott (D-Ga.) will become the ranking member of the Committee on Agriculture.

Enhanced Nutrition Assistance Ends, Summer Meal Program Made Permanent

In the omnibus appropriations package passed last month, Congress made several changes to the child nutrition policy. Significantly, the package included $40 million to continue the Summer Electronic Benefit program, which provides low-income families with $40 per month per child for meals during the summer months. The summer program was started during the pandemic as a temporary program but will now become permanent. Unfortunately, the funding to make this program permanent was created by ending the enhanced Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, which were implemented during the pandemic to ensure families could put food on the table during the economic crisis. February will be the last month that the enhanced emergency allotments will be available to states.

Anti-Transgender Bills Also Hurt the Social Sector Workforce

Social Current has been following a story out of Texas, where, last year, Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote an order to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, requiring social workers to investigate parents of transgender children. The state argued that certain types of care for transgender children constituted child abuse. Numerous lawsuits have been brought against the department, putting the order on hold. Moreover, it is reported that 2,300 workers in the state child welfare agency workforce quit in protest. These types of orders present a danger, not just to transgender children, but also to the social sector workforce, which is already facing serious retention challenges coming out of the pandemic. Last year, a raft of anti-transgender bills was introduced and passed in state legislatures across the country. Social Current will continue to monitor these bills and others that threaten transgender children and the social sector workforce.

New Report from The Children’s Bureau on Title IV-B Funding Allocations

The Children’s Bureau in the Office of the Administration for Children and Families released a new report that outlines the planned and actual state expenditures on title IV-B programs. The two programs called the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program and the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF), give funds to states to provide protective, family reunifications and preservation, foster care, and adoption services, as well as to cover administrative and workforce development costs.

Since actual expenditures for FY 2022 have not been identified, the report outlines the planned expenditures for FY 2022.
The report showed that states planned to spend over 45% of the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program funding on protective services, compared to around 12% each on family reunification and preservations services. For PSSF, the Department of Health and Human Services strongly encourages states to spend about 20% of their funding allocation on each of the four service areas. In FY 2022, the states planned to divide their funding along these lines. The only actual expenditures covered in the report are for PSSF in FY 2019, which showed that states spent between 21% and 26% on the four main service areas: family preservation, family support, family reunification, and adoption promotion and support services. The report shows that these proportions remained consistent for F.Y. 2015 through F.Y. 2019.

Social Current, APHSA Partner to Co-Create New Framework for Community-Based and Public Sector Human Services Leaders

The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) and Social Current have a long history of collaboration. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the two organizations will continue partnering to develop a new leadership framework for health and human services leaders to work together across system boundaries.

Read more in this article by APHSA President and CEO Tracy Wareing Evans and Social Current President and CEO Jody Levison-Johnson from the latest edition of Policy & Practice.

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