Update from Capitol Hill—September 2016

As September draws to a close, Congress is searching for compromises on policy riders to a short-term extension of current federal funding through December 9. In general, the so-called Continuing Resolution will continue funding for all federal programs at their current levels. Upon their post-election return in November, the lame duck congress will work to complete all 12 spending bills for federal fiscal year (FFY) 2017. The Labor, Health and Human Services bill will likely be one of the last measures considered, with funding for most programs to be frozen at FFY 2016 levels.

Child support programs have emerged unscathed during a very contentious political year. While the House decided not to consider the NCSEA-supported bipartisan bill (HR 2990) to provide private and public subsidized employment programs to individuals, including non-custodial parents related to families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the underlying TANF program is in line for yet another one-year extension without any changes. And, with Congress scrutinizing numerous human services programs, child support remains a program enjoying bipartisan support. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s poverty agenda, which may serve as a blueprint for starting policy debates next year, highlighted child support as a program deserving closer connections to workforce development programs. His plan also includes a bipartisan proposal supported by NCSEA and the Obama administration to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults.  The U.S. Treasury estimates the proposal would benefit about 1.5 million non-custodial parents.

On the administrative front, with less than five months remaining for the Obama administration, the regulatory window is slowly closing for publication of a final rule to implement the administration’s proposals to make changes to the child support program. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was issued on November 17, 2014, and NCSEA submitted comments in January 2015.

And, in late August, the President ratified the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (Hague Child Support Convention). NCSEA members were deeply involved in the drafting of the treaty and the federal legislation in 2014 to implement it in states. As the first global child support treaty ratified by the United States, the treaty contains groundbreaking provisions establishing uniform, inexpensive, and effective procedures for the processing of international child support cases.

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