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Child Care Concerns

One of the last things the Senate did before breaking for recess 10 days ago was to pass a bill by unanimous consent giving the Senate Employee Child Care Center a little extra support. [IMGCAP(1)]

The measure, introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and co-sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), grants the Secretary of the Senate the ability to transfer proceeds from the sale of the Senate Gift Shop’s holiday ornaments to the child care center to fund “necessary activities and expenses … including scholarships, educational supplies and equipment.”

Past Secretaries have used proceeds from the ornaments to help fund the child care center for years. Last year, ornament sales generated about 4 percent of the center’s total revenue (90 percent of revenue came from tuition).

But in 2006, the Government Accountability Office advised more transparency was needed in the process. That prompted lawmakers to add language to the original Iraq supplemental bill granting the Secretary the transfer ability.

After President Bush vetoed the measure, a bipartisan group of 16 Senators, led by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), wrote to Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and ranking member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) asking it be included in the second supplemental measure.

The language was included in the initial draft of the bill but cut during negotiations with the White House to trim down the size of the bill, prompting the separate measure.

— Elizabeth Brotherton

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