Other Policy Priorities
Other Policy Priorities in View
The National Assembly is following the impending release of a notice of proposed rulemaking from the Department of Homeland Security to change the rules for immigrants who use certain public benefits. Under the current rules, an individual who is “likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence” is determined a public charge. This happens during the application process for a change in their immigration status. Once an individual becomes a public charge, admission to the United States or adjustment of status is not granted. For now, receipt of only two public benefit currently count toward that determination—cash assistance, and long-term care at the government’s expense. Conversely, the forthcoming proposed rule would greatly expand the types of benefits that can be considered by the government in a public charge determination and would extend to public benefits received by dependents of immigrant applicant, even if those dependents are U.S. citizen children.
In March, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 to fund the government through the end of September. One notable aspect of the agreement is what was left out—the bill includes no language to repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment. While the human service sector should be proud of this victory, Tim Delaney, CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits advises supporters of the Johnson Amendment “to remain vigilant,” noting that in the past year there have been efforts to undermine the Johnson Amendment “through an executive order and five separate bills.” The National Assembly will continue to monitor this issue and help ensure the sector can continue to focus resources on its mission and not partisan politics.
The omnibus spending bill enriches early childhood education by allocating more funding to programs that help kids reach their full-potential. Combined, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services received a $14 billion increase in funding over Fiscal Year 2017. The Child Care and Development Block Grant received the largest-ever single-year increase in funding from $2.8 billion to $5.2 billion. This investment will deliver access to child care for an additional 151,000 children throughout the country. Head Start saw a $610 million increase and the allocation for 21st Century Community Learning Centers received a $20 million boost to $1.2 billion. The bill notably provides $300 million in new grants to local education agencies and schools with a high percentage of students who come from low-income families. These grants may be used for afterschool programs and summer learning supports.
Congress also used the omnibus package to strengthen the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program which has recently been under the threat of elimination. The bill preserves the current programs and creates a new $350 million fund for student loan borrowers who have made payments under plans that would generally not qualify for loan forgiveness under the current system. The bill further promotes access to higher education by maintaining support for a year-round Pell Grant program and raised the maximum annual award to $6,095, a $175 increase for the upcoming academic year.
A guidance report was attached to the spending package which clarified that the Dickey Amendment does not prohibit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) from conducting research on gun violence, but only bars it from explicitly advocating for gun control. This shift may create opportunities for new avenues of research into gun violence. Experts, however, caution that this may be a red herring because no new funding was allocated to the CDC for this research.
Unfortunately, the spending bill did not include any policy solution for temporary or permanent immigration relief for Dreamers. But, the legislation did earmark $1.6 billion for new “border security” measures.
For a summary of other funding increases in the omnibus package, read a synopsis by the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.
FEATURED ARTICLESProposed Public Charge Rule Open for Comment
This morning, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officially published the proposed rule to broaden the definition of “public charge.” DHS will accept public comments on the proposed rule via regulations.gov through December 10. As we wrote recently, the proposed rule would, among other things, expand the number of federal programs the use of which […]
FEATURED ARTICLESWhat the Hill–SE1:EP2 “Julie Sweetland”
Marie Camino and Brandon Toth are joined by Julie Sweetland, Vice President for Strategy and Innovation at the FrameWorks Institute to discuss how human service public policy advocates can apply FrameWorks’ research to issues related to immigration, the 2020 Census, and more.
FEATURED ARTICLESProposed Public Charge Regulation Would Compromise the Well-Being of Immigrants
By Marie Camino On Saturday night, the Department of Homeland Security released a draft regulation that would change the threshold for becoming what the government defines as a “public charge” – a person who is “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.” Currently, a non-citizen determined likely to use cash assistance or government-funded long-term institutional […]