The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal grant program that provides child care assistance to families, and funds quality initiatives for child care. Last March, the Senate approved the reauthorization of CCDBG which has not been reauthorized for 18 years with a vote of 96 ayes, 2 nays (Senator Coburn was one of the nays), and 2 didn’t vote (Senator Inhofe wasn’t present to vote). Then on Monday, September 15, the House approved the bill. The next step was that the Senate hotlined the CCDBG bill passed by the House. That means a recording is received in each office and it generally says something like… “the Majority Leader has the following unanimous consent request- to take up and pass the CCDBG bill just received from the House. Any Senator having an objection call the cloakroom.”
Senator Coburn from Oklahoma and Senator Toomey from Pennsylvania had objections. Senator Coburn objected because he had some concerns with the bill. One is his continued concerns about the role of the federal government in regulating and subsidizing child care. Another is the need for increased funding for CCDBG under the changes required of states by the bill. The third is a concern about duplication of various federal child care programs, including the tax expenditures. Senator Toomey objected – not because of the content of CCDBG — but because he has a bill he wants a vote on that has not moved in the Senate. The Toomey bill is a background check bill for K-12 teachers that the House passed last year. Negotiations between Senators went back and forth. In the end, the Senators could not reach agreement.
Since the measure could not be passed by unanimous consent, Senate Majority Leader Reid came to the floor, asked to proceed to the bill, filed cloture, and several amendments. This means he filled the amendment tree so no amendments can be in order. Filing cloture means that both debate time on CCDBG will be limited, and anyone who tries to offer an amendment to CCDBG would have to try to offer an amendment that is relevant. Bottom line, The Senate has adjourned until November 12. When Senators return, there will be 2 votes on nominations at 5:30pm. After that, CCDBG will be the pending business. There could be a roll call vote or there could be a voice vote. The type of vote is unclear. What is likely is that there will be a roll call vote sometime the week of November 12. Keep tuned for follow up on this very important bill for families and child care programs throughout the country.