What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : Children : A Senate procedural vote on a Republican petition to end a Democratic filibuster (extended floor debate) and vote on Republican-drafted welfare reform legislation (H.R. 4). (2004 senate Roll Call 65)
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A Senate procedural vote on a Republican petition to end a Democratic filibuster (extended floor debate) and vote on Republican-drafted welfare reform legislation (H.R. 4).
senate Roll Call 65     Apr 01, 2004
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

Progressives helped defeat an effort by Senate conservatives to end floor debate and vote on welfare reform legislation (H.R. 4) whose stated purpose is to reauthorize and improve the program of block grants to states for temporary assistance for needy families and improve access to quality child care. H.R. 4, the House-passed version of the legislation, was subsequently redrafted by the Senate Finance Committee to add the Senate's imprimatur. The cloture petition filed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) garnered 51 votes - nine shy of the 60 votes needed to end a Senate filibuster - extended debate -- and advance the legislation for a vote. The affirmative votes to end debate included all Republicans, with Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia casting the lone Democratic vote. The Bush Administration and the bill's conservative backers have asserted that enacting pending the measure, dubbed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), would "free up" $2 billion for states to use for child care. Progressives in turn argued that the bills passed by the House and approved by the Senate Finance Committee would permit unobligated funds carried over from previous years to be used for any allowable TANF expenditure -- but that it would not result in $2 billion becoming newly available for child care as the bill's conservative supporters claim. The change in law will make the process of using the funds simpler, but does not change the amount of resources available to states, progressives argued, while adding that would make it easier for states to exhaust their reserves is no substitute for increasing federal child care funding. Without additional federal child care funds, children will lose their child care subsidies and families will be less able to obtain and maintain employment, progressives said. They also noted that, for many states, unspent TANF balances are being held in reserve to meet future contingencies or will be needed to sustain current service levels and that in most states, reserves are likely to be depleted within a few years unless states make significant cuts in current levels of services. Progressives' success in delaying a vote on the underlying measure afforded Democrats more leverage and negotiating time to try and shape the welfare bill in manner more beneficial to welfare recipients.

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