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Robert S.
Democrat VA 3

About Rep. Robert
  • Child Care

    by Representative Robert C. "Bobby" Scott

    Posted on 2016-01-07

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    SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mrs. Watson Coleman for her leadership on all of these issues, particularly education.

    There is a growing bipartisan understanding that in order for our Nation's children, especially those in low-income communities, to fulfill their potential and succeed in college and career, that we must expand access to affordable, high-quality, early learning opportunities.

    Decades of research shows that properly nurturing children in early years of life supports enhanced brain development, cognitive functioning, and emotional and physical health. Research has also shown that one investment that leads to better educational outcomes, stronger job earnings, and lower crime rates is quality early learning programs. These programs help prevent and reduce achievement gaps for low-income students and create long-term benefits for our Nation, such as lower crime rates, lower teen pregnancy rates, and higher high school graduation rates.

    {time} 1930 Yesterday I attended a screening of the documentary ``The Raising of America,'' which explained the challenges working families have in raising children and helping them succeed. Even though there is nearly universal understanding of the importance of high-quality, early- learning opportunities, many families are not able to afford or access these opportunities. As the documentary clearly explained, working families are more productive than ever, but our Nation lacks the Federal policies that these families need in order to better balance their work and family responsibilities.

    For example, unpredictable, unstable schedules place an undue burden on working families, impacting their ability to maintain child care. We are among the richest nations in the world. The United States is the only such nation that does not provide paid leave to families to invest time in early development of their children. The United States doesn't even provide universal access to quality, affordable child care. This is simply unacceptable.

    The Democrats on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce have been working with our colleagues in the Democratic Caucus on a working families agenda. This agenda supports families by giving them the tools that they need to better balance work and family.

    The working families agenda calls for commonsense policies, such as paid sick leave, paid family leave, and access to universal, high- quality child care to help balance work and family responsibilities. In addition, it supports increased wages by calling for an increased minimum wage and legislation to reduce discrimination in the workforce.

    But access to high-quality child care is an integral part of the working family's agenda. In the recently passed spending bill, we increased funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grants by $326 million. This increase is a strong, positive step in the right direction, but we must build on this effort.

    That is because over 20 States cannot serve all of the eligible families, and some States aren't even accepting eligible participants to sign up on their wait list. Now, we are not talking about whether the child is eligible or not or whether they receive it, but whether a child can even be placed on a wait list to hope for funding.

    If we want parents to work and we want children to be able to determine their futures, if we want strong and stable families, we must provide these families with access to high-quality child care and other early-learning opportunities. These efforts are a national priority, and all children deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential.

    Again, I want to thank you for your leadership for bringing this issue to a Special Order.

    Mrs. WATSON COLEMAN. Congressman, thank you for taking your time and sharing with us.

    We are all familiar with the phrase, ``putting your money where your mouth is.'' Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago we voted for a bill to fund government programs and extend tax cuts. While that bill was an important step forward compromise, it was far from perfect. It put our environment at risk by selling petroleum overseas and made countless tax breaks for multinational corporations and special interests permanent. Although it did extend programs like the child tax credit, it didn't do nearly enough to protect working families or ensure a bright future for our Nation. We are in a new year, and we have got a chance for a fresh start, so let's make affordable child care part of that new start.

    Mr. Speaker, I want to switch gears now and discuss an equally important topic that those in control of this House have tried to ignore, a topic that the President took action on this week.

    Gun violence is one of the greatest challenges this Nation faces. Over the past 10 years, we have lost more than 100,000 people to guns. Millions more have been victims of assaults, of robberies, and of other crimes where a gun was involved, and many of the individuals in possession of these weapons shouldn't have had them in the first place.

    Three years since Newtown, just over a month since San Bernardino and Colorado Springs, and with the dark memories of shootings of every scale in every city hovering over us constantly, it is time for change. Gun violence in the United States runs the gamut of motivations--from mental illness, to religious extremism, to political extremism, to disastrous accidents--but they all involve a firearm.

    [[Page H167]] Many of these incidents are suicide, but they are all linked by the simple fact that they involve a firearm because in the United States of America a group of ideologues have hidden behind misguided readings of the Constitution and make guns available to everyone imaginable, even folks on the terrorist watch list.

    The reality is that gun violence is an epidemic, and the NRA, along with those who blindly follow it, are deeply out of touch. When another tragedy strikes, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle reliably call for moments of silence right here on the floor. While I support remembering victims, I cannot support silence where action is needed. Silence, Mr. Speaker, is what keeps weapons on our streets. Silence is the reason we have lost friends, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. Silence is why we are the only developed nation in the world with this problem.

    The President has put forward a set of executive actions that make sense at the most basic level, from strengthening background checks and bolstering enforcement to improving mental health services and research on gun safety. The simple, commonsense measures President Obama announced this week will save countless lives.

    It is now up to us here in Congress to take the baton. Mr. Speaker, it is common sense that someone who is not allowed to fly because they are a suspected terrorist shouldn't be able to get a gun. It is common sense to ensure a standard uniform background check before someone can purchase a weapon. It is common sense that you should have to present identification to buy bullets, and it is time for our colleagues to stand up for common sense.

    As the President said, we need to do it with the fierce urgency of now.

    Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.


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