Will U.S. Budget Have Child Care After New $3.5 Trillion Proposition?

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Aug. 10 2021, Published 10:27 a.m. ET

With the ink still wet on President Biden's much-adjusted infrastructure bill, Senate Democrats are making moves on a new budgetary concern. This time, it's a budget framework worth $3.5 trillion, and it includes items relating to child care, immigration, climate change, and more.

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The new budget proposition probably won't fly through the gates unaffected, but it does hold potential in some shape. Will the U.S. budget evolve to include child care soon, and what else could come of it?

Budget reconciliation could include major child care provisions

Led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the $3.5 trillion budget proposition includes major shifts in how the U.S. views child care.

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The reconciliation suggests that the government reserves $726 billion for the Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions Committee, which would be required to use some of that for universal pre-K for kids ages 3–4, as well as child care for families with working parents.

Child care has been a pain point for families during the COVID-19 pandemic. As people returned to work in person, parents and especially women were often left out of the equation because they had to take care of their children, who were doing school at home. Universal child care could be the leap that the workforce needs to get back out there.

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What else comes with the child care budget reconciliation?

The budget framework is more than just a basic child care proposal. The $726 billion category would also include two free years of community college and additional funding for historically Black colleges and universities.

The budget also includes $107 billion to push the Judiciary Committee to give qualified immigrants a lawful permanent status in the U.S.

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There are green energy and climate provisions, like funding to address the growing threat of wildfires and droughts, as well as expansion of renewable energy and carbon emission reduction. Given the fact that the U.N. put the global climate on code red in a nearly 4,000-page climate change report released on Aug. 9, this funding comes at an urgent time—literally.

Public housing and affordability also have a place in the proposed child care budget reconciliation.

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Republicans aren't biting, but it might not matter.

Republicans aren't about additional spending, especially if it requires adjusting the debt ceiling. However, that might not matter to Democrats, who currently hold a thin majority in the Senate.

Democrats could technically push some version of the $3.5 trillion child care budget reconciliation through without Republican support, but it would mean burning some bridges along the way. Nothing in politics comes free.

What the U.S. child care budget reconciliation would mean for the national debt

Unless the country could get corporations and super-wealthy individuals to contribute more in taxes, the U.S. would have to increase the national debt ceiling in order to pursue this reconciliation. This would be the only way for the government to avoid falling into the depths of default, a travesty that the country might not ever be able to recover from. Will the wronged Republicans help lift that ceiling? Maybe. It depends on what the child care budget reconciliation can give in order to take what it needs.

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