Despite sharp spending cuts to domestic programs like education and environmental protection, President Donald Trump's 2020 budget proposal, which he sent to Congress on March 11, calls for a sizable sum to be spent improving the availability and affordability of child care.
Trump's record $4.75 trillion budget request, the largest in federal history, contains increased military spending, an additional $8.6 billion for construction of a border wall with Mexico, as well as $1 billion devoted to expanding childcare access.
The focus on childcare appears to be driven by his daughter and White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump, who held a West Wing listening session at the end of last month where she shared some details of the child care proposal outlined in this budget, according to NPR.
By including the measure, the White House is signaling that it wants in on political debates currently happening around an issue that costs families in 28 states more than a year of college tuition, according to Child Care Aware.
The linchpin of the budget's childcare proposal, as described within the document, is "a one-time, mandatory investment of $1 billion for a competitive fund aimed at supporting underserved populations and stimulating employer investments in child care for working families."
Under this plan, states apply for a share of that $1 billion pot and use the money to encourage employers to invest in child care, to support child care providers that operate during non-traditional hours, or provide child care support for parents enrolled in school.
To be successful, states would have to "establish targets for reducing unnecessary regulatory or other requirements that limit the supply or increase the cost of child care," according to NPR. This requirement isn't meant to alter things like child-to-caregiver ratios, but instead relax things such as zoning requirements that prevent child care centers in residential districts.
The project would be handled through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, which Trump allotted $5.3 billion to for fiscal year 2020, or the same amount that Congress set aside in 2019. The $1 billion one-time fund be in additional to this sum.
Trump's budget also pledged to provide paid parental leave to working parents, which would be another way the government could help parents offset some of the financial burden of childcare.
Listed as part of Trump's plans for the Department of Labor, the funding of which he wants cut by $1.2 billion, or 9.7 percent, for 2020, is a proposal to give new mothers, fathers and adoptive parents paid family leave so that they can bond with their new child and recover from childbirth.
Despite the President's backing of the idea, the federal government won't play a role in shaping the details of such a policy, instead the budget says it will be up to the states to "establish paid parental leave programs in a way that is most appropriate for their workforce and economy."
There is no mention of a set sum devoted to such goal or a fund, like with the childcare proposal, that states could apply for in order to create such programs.
Of course, while several Congress members share a desire for paid parental leave and more affordable child care, Trump's "Budget for a Better America" is unlikely to pass the legislative body in its current form. Most presidential budgets are seen as policy statements and frequently ignored by Congress. Even when Republicans controlled both chambers, Trump's failed to gain traction.
Already Democrat leaders in both the House and Senate have called Trump's budget a "nonstarter," thanks to its provision for border wall funding, increased military spending, cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and drastically reduced budgets for the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, Transportation Department and Department of the Interior.
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