What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : America's Poor : Reauthorizing the Head Start program (H.R. 1439)/Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) amendment to allow Head Start grantees, due to inadequate funding, to negotiate to reduce the number of children enrolled in the program if it is necessary to maintain the quality of services (2007 house Roll Call 282)
 Who: All Members : New York, District 2 : King, Pete
[POW!]
 
Reauthorizing the Head Start program (H.R. 1439)/Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) amendment to allow Head Start grantees, due to inadequate funding, to negotiate to reduce the number of children enrolled in the program if it is necessary to maintain the quality of services
house Roll Call 282     May 02, 2007
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This vote was on an amendment to legislation to reauthorize the Head Start program through fiscal 2012. Proposed by Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), the amendment would allow recipients of federal grants for early-childhood services to low-income children to negotiate with the Health and Human Services Department to reduce the number of children enrolled in the programs if the funding they receive is less than the previous year's appropriation and cuts are necessary to maintain the quality of services.

The bill to which Carnahan was seeking to amend would authorize $7.4 billion in funding for fiscal 2008 and such sums as may be necessary through fiscal 2012 for the early-childhood program. This legislation would only approve the spending, and the actual money would come from a separate appropriations bill.

"My amendment would allow for Head Start grantees to negotiate a funded enrollment level with the HHS Secretary if funding for the program does not keep pace with inflation," Carnahan said, adding that over the past three years, the Head Start program has experienced an 8 percent real decline in federal funding adjusted for inflation.

"This decline in funding has required already efficient Head Start agencies across the country to tighten their belts even more. Sadly, local agencies are now forced to pass these cuts on to quality staff," Carnahan continued.

Republicans opposed Carnahan's amendment because they said it would essentially allow programs that receive Head Start funding to blackmail the federal government for more money.

"In effect, this amendment allows grantees to cut services for children and kick children out of the Head Start program if Congress does not appropriate ever-higher funding amounts for Head Start," said Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.). "I think all of us want to service as many children as we can, and we want to have as high an appropriation level as we can, but if we fail to appropriate higher numbers, I don't think we should take it out on the children."

Democrats countered that the cuts were already hurting children, and that diluting an already stretched program would benefit no one.

Democrats were near unanimous in their support for Carnahan's proposal, with only one voting against. They were joined by 26 Republicans. Thus, by a vote of 253 to 171, the House voted to allow Head Start programs to negotiate with the federal government to curtail enrollment if budget cuts otherwise would cause the quality of the programs to suffer, and a bill to reauthorize the early-childhood development program proceeded with the provision.

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