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Public Statements

Child Care and Development Block Grant Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. President, I was going to call up amendment No. 2829, but I have chosen not to do that because of the plan of the manager of the bill to table it. So I will talk about what it is and make a few observations.

Four years ago we got the GAO to start a process on duplication, to look at what we are doing in a multitude of areas across the whole Federal Government. That will be finished, and for the first time it will have taken a complete look. We will see it at the end of this month, the first part of the fourth report.

One of their findings was, according to early learning and childcare programs, within 8 different departments there are 45 separate programs--8 different departments within the administration, 45 separate programs, spending $16 billion a year. So the amendment I was going to offer would have forced us to do the metrics to look at what our outcomes are. It would have forced us to consolidate programs, other than major programs such as this one we are debating today, which has been markedly improved and enhanced.

Now, I don't want to put the Senate through a timely vote when I know what the outcome is going to be, so I won't call up that amendment. But I would remind my colleagues that the only way we are really ever going to get control of our budget is to do the hard work of eliminating duplication, so that when we have a program, such as the one the manager of the bill has on the floor today, it is really directed, it is focused, it has metrics, and we know what we are getting for what we are spending.

Most people don't realize we have 45 of these programs in 8 different departments spending $16 billion a year.

So I hope we will consider that this is a great movement on this one particular bill, and I congratulate the people who worked on it--Senator Harkin and his staff, Senators Burr and Alexander and their staff--because I think they have done a good job. But it is not enough because we are still going to have 44 other programs and we are still going to have programs that don't have a metric on them. We are spending money on them, and we don't know if they are accomplishing what we want them to accomplish.

The whole purpose of the amendment was to force us to do that. I understand that is not going to move, and I am fine with that. I will work in every other way behind the scenes to try to accomplish the same purpose.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

To answer the Senator's question, I supported the Enzi amendment. I don't think it went far enough because you are not going to look at some of the programs that are outside the purview of the Senator's committee. We have eight different Federal departments running these programs. They come from eight different sets of authorizations.

So the point is that I am going to work behind the scenes with Senator Burr and with Senator Harkin to try to accomplish this.

AMENDMENT NO. 2830

Now I would like to call up amendment No. 2830 and ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. President, what we are trying to accomplish with this amendment--and I have cleared it on our side, and I think it is being cleared on the other side as well--is to make sure the significant amount of money we spend in this area goes to people who really need it. So all this amendment does is require a self-certification when an individual acquires one of these grants that they don't have real assets greater than $1 million. If they do, maybe they should be spending their money rather than taxpayers' money on their kids' childcare.

That is all this amendment does. All we have done is to put in there, in the application process, a box they have to check that says: I don't have real assets in excess of $1 million. This will ensure that we know that at least the vast majority--and by the way, 16 percent of this money has gone to people who are very wealthy, in terms of these vouchers. I have that data. I don't have it with me. Actually, I may have it with me, and I will pull it up and speak about that in a minute.

But the fact is we want this money to help the people who need help, not to help people who don't need the help. So that is the purpose of this amendment. I have agreed, if it becomes acceptable, to have a voice vote.

With that, I yield the floor.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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