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Irony and Uncertainty in Washington

by Eric Karolak
September/October 2012
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/irony-and-uncertainty-in-washington/5020718/

This past summer has been a strange one, so much so that I wonder if the heat didn’t just get to all of us.

State budgets tightened, families were squeezed, and providers felt the pinch; and yet Washington marched on. After the ‘brinksmanship’ of last summer (remember the budget stand-off that led to our nation’s credit rating being down-graded?), the 112th Congress appeared to have come together. And, to boot, there’s interest in the Senate to overhaul child care legislation. All this while states are eroding help for working families, and policymakers everywhere need to be reminded of the realities of an early childhood or afterschool program.

I Thought I Saw an Agreement!

The federal appropriations process " how Congress sets funding levels for programs like Head Start and child care " has been anything but normal in recent years. Readers of this column know that repeatedly the Congress, divided into the majority Republican House and Democratic Senate, has failed to pass the government’s 12 annual appropriation bills, often gone through multiple ‘continuing resolutions’ extending an existing spending plan temporarily until a high-stakes showdown.

This year, there was agreement. First, in June, the Senate Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, which sets funding levels ...

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